Mike Elgan has an interesting post about the coming age of virtual keyboards. Elgan predicts that virtual keyboards will, in the near future, replace the traditional mechanical keyboard. My iPhone has a virtual keyboard, of course, and it's hard to imagine being able to use one efficiently. To be sure, the iPhone keyboard is too small for touch typing, but even with a full size keyboard I can't visualize myself using an iPhone-like virtual keyboard. The problem is the lack of tactile feedback and keeping fingers resting on the home row from registering a key hit.
Elgan says that these problems will be solved with haptics: the user will “feel” the keys and will receive tactile feedback when a key is “pressed.” I like the idea of getting rid of one more mechanical component but I'm a bit skeptical about ease of use issues. What do you think?