Keyboards, an aspect of the computer that has relatively not seen much advancement, may undergo a drastic upgrade. A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California Riverside, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences developed a keyboard that improves cyber security and generates energy. This new keyboard is also known as the IKB, or intelligent keyboard.

The ACS Nano journal published an article explaining the details and mechanics behind the keyboards functions. “The computer keyboard is one of the most common, reliable, accessible, and effective tools used for human–machine interfacing and information exchange. Although keyboards have been used for hundreds of years for advancing human civilization, studying human behavior by keystroke dynamics using smart keyboards remains a great challenge,” states the article.

Hackers and malicious programs often steal passwords from users. The IKB prevents this by not only recognizing the keys being pressed, but the pattern of key strokes. IKB has ability to measure contact electrification between the force of the user’s fingers and the keys. This data can be used to record and analyze the unique typing style of the user which can be used as a security measure. According to Professor Zhong Lin Wang, a developer of the keyboard, the keystroke pattern of an individual is difficult to replicate because of the unique patterns and stresses the user exerts on keys.

Further, the keyboard utilizes the contact electrification to generate energy. The IKB is made of sheets of plastic with electrodes that generate voltage when in contact with the keys. When not in use, the keyboard does not consume energy, but will turn on instantly when pressed. Professor Wang reports that the keyboard is made of inexpensive material that is currently used in much of the computer industry. The keyboard will function in spite of dust and liquids because of the materials used to construct it. IKB is still in its prototype stage, but has the potential to be used in an array of industries such as ATMs and other security sensitive technologies.