“In a properly automated and educated world, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence. It may be that machines will do the work that makes life possible and that human beings will do all the other things that make life pleasant and worthwhile.” 

American writer and professor Isaac Asimov’s quote from his book Robot Visions’, first published three decades ago, could very well have been an apt prediction for the technologically advanced world we live in today.

There’s no escaping the fact that machines and automation have become an indispensable part of human lives today.  All forms of technology usually require an interface to establish a sync between humans and machines and input-output devices help achieve precisely this, bridging that gap. 

Input devices – the common link that transforms an instruction from an end-user to an output processed by a machine sent back to the user – are omnipresent and form an integral part of our daily lives. Input devices are used in many industries – from consumer electronics to industrial equipment and from medical and healthcare to defence and aviation. 

Here’s a rundown of the different applications of the most commonly used input devices.

 

1. Membrane switch solutions and Flexible membrane switches

Input Output Devices Flexible Membrane Switches

Membrane switches, a user interface device that is used to turn devices on or off, are used in several applications such as :

        • Keypads
        • Control panels in aircrafts
        • Touch screen phones
        • Kidney dialysis machines
        • Microwave / Oven panels
        • Air Conditioner control panels
        • Television remote controls
        • Keyboards and other electrical products

 

2. PCB-based hybrid switches

PCB-based-Hybrid-Switches

PCB-based hybrid switches, or PCBs, are used in several electronic components and most of us use them daily even without realizing that we are doing so. Below are some of the various industries that PCBs are applied in:

 

Healthcare & Medical Industry 
        • Medical imaging systems such as CT scanners, CAT scanners and Ultrasonic scanners 
        • Monitors: Medical devices that monitor heart rate, blood pressure and blood glucose
        • Infusion pumps – Insulin and Analgesia pumps
        • Pacemakers and other internal devices 
LEDs
        • Residential lighting –  smart bulbs
        • Storefront lighting – Signage 
        • Automotive displays- Dashboard indicators, Headlights and Brake lights
        • Computer displays on laptop and Desktop computers
        • Medical lightings such as those related to surgery and emergency medicine
Consumer Electronics
        • Communications devices – Smartphones, Tablets, Smartwatches and Radios
        • Personal Computers 
        • Entertainment systems – Televisions, Stereos and Video game consoles
        • Home Appliances – Refrigerators, Microwaves and Coffee Makers
Industrial Equipment
        • Manufacturing Equipment – Power electric drills, Presses
        • Power Equipment – DC-to-AC Power inverters and Solar power cogeneration equipment
        • Measuring Equipment that measures and controls pressure, temperature and other factors
Automotive Components
        • Entertainment systems such as stereos and Navigation systems
        • Control systems, including Engine management systems and Fuel regulators
        • Sensors that monitor blind spots for drivers in cars
        • Aerospace Components
        • PCBs are used in a variety of aircraft, Control towers, Satellite and other systems
        • Monitoring Equipment, including Accelerometers and Pressure sensors
        • Communication Equipment
Maritime Applications
        • Different marine vessels and systems use PCBs, including small vessels, large cargo ships, submarines, communications systems and navigation equipment.
Safety and Security Equipment
        • Security cameras
        • Smoke detectors
        • Electronic door locks
        • Motion sensors and Security alarms
Telecommunications Equipment
        • Telecom towers
        • Office communications equipment
        • LED Displays and Indicators
Military and Defense Applications
        • Communications equipment
        • Control systems
        • Instrumentation

 

2. Capacitive keyboards

Capacitative-Keyboards manufacturers

Capacitive keyboards, a type of touch-controlled electrical switch that operates by measuring change in capacitance, have wide applications in the following areas:

        • Aerospace and Military equipment
        • Medical instruments
        • Intelligence control
        • Commercial appliances
        • Security products
        • Consumer electronics
        • Household appliances
        • Car security system
        • LED application
        • Solar photovoltaic applications
        • Mobile terminal tablets

 

3. Integrated keyboards

Integrated Keyboards_1

Integrated keyboards combine various features into a single product which then can serve multiple functions across different product categories. As a result, integrated keyboards can be used in all the industries/ categories mentioned above.

 

4. Illuminated keyboards

Illuminated keypad

Backlit keyboards, one that contains a light underneath the keys, are often used by gamers for gaming laptops and video editing professionals for video editing software. With the rise in online and virtual gaming and multimedia tools for editing for amateurs and professionals, illuminated keyboards have become more common in recent times.

 

5. Vandal-resistant keyboards

Prosteel vandal resistant keyboards

Vandal-resistant keyboards, ones that are designed to survive in harsh environments, have applications in the below categories:

        • Automated Internet terminals
        • Information kiosks in public areas
        • Self-service terminals (Banking sector)
        • Ticket vending machines
        • Gas stations
        • Cash machines (ATMs)
        • Industrial consoles

 

6. Silicone rubber keypads

Silicone Rubber Keypads

Silicone rubber keypads, which are more cost-efficient and design-versatile, are used in the following products: 

        • Medical devices
        • Equipment and Machinery controls
        • Computers and Peripherals
        • Consumer electronics
        • Electronic test instrumentation
        • Security monitoring equipment
        • Smartphones
        • Communications equipment
        • Handheld terminals
        • Office and Business equipment

They can also be used in a variety of industries, such as Banking, Food packaging, Military, Industrial, Aerospace, Transport, Defense, Construction, Retail, Schools and Government.

 

7. Programmable keyboards

Programmable Keyboards

Programmable keyboards, ones that use macros to execute specific actions with the help of advanced scripting, can be customised for use in just about any industry or product vertical. Some of the more common applications include:

        • Video/Photo editing
        • Audio recording/Editing
        • Computer-Aided Design (CAD)
        • Animation
        • Software development
        • Call Centers / Customer Service
        • Transcription
        • Web design
        • Gaming panels
        • Assistive learning
        • Industrial applications
        • Point-of-Sale counters
        • Healthcare applications

Input devices play an integral role in interfacing humans with technology and as we can see from the applications listed above, they are omnipresent in our lives.
As seen, its applications span a host of industries and product categories.

Protolab is one of the leading manufacturers in India of Input devices catering to this ever-expanding range of applications and use cases across industries. You can check here for more information on Protolab’s Input devices.