High-speed text entry specialist StenoKeyboards has designed a low-cost stenography keyboard "for beginners," though claiming it's still capable of 200+ words per minute in skilled hands — despite being based on capacitive switches and thus as tactile as a block of wood.
"The Asterisk keyboard is a keyboard that types faster. If you want to type fast and efficiently, learn stenography using the Asterisk," company founder Peter Park says of StenoKeyboards latest design. "You have 10 fingers. Why not use all of it—at the same time? The Asterisk makes use of all your fingers, with less movement and physical effort."
Using the Asterisk, StenoKeyboards claims, it's possible to write at up to and beyond 200 words per minute — using stenography, familiar to most as the method used to record court transcripts. Designed for use with the open-source Plover stenography software, the Asterisk requires you to press multiple keys at once in order to type words in chunks rather than letter-by-letter — dramatically speeding text entry, once you've picked up the knack.
As the company's name implies, this isn't the first time StenoKeyboards has designed a solution for stenography at home. Back in November 2022 the company unveiled the Polyglot, a compact mechanical keyboard powered by a Raspberry Pi RP2040 and designed to pull double duty as a steno or standard keyboard.
The Asterisk, though, is designed to be more affordable for beginners — and that begins with ditching moving parts. Instead of mechanical switches or the rubber domes of standard keyboards, the Asterisk is a flat PCB with 26 touch-sensitive keys which react at the touch of a fingertip. It's a clever way of keeping the cost down, but removes all tactile feedback — providing even less tactility than the infamous membrane keyboards of the Timex/Sinclair ZX80 and Z81 microcomputers of the 1980s.
For the stenographer on a budget, though, the Asterisk may just be the perfect entry to the art — and replaceable in the future with one of the company's more tactile offerings. For those interested, the Asterisk is currently funding on Kickstarter with physical rewards starting at $50 for a single Asterisk board and USB cable; all hardware is expected to ship in June this year.