At long last, the exciting announcement!
Josh Lifton, Plover's first programmer way back when we started this project together in 2010, has begun the process to manufacture a new kind of steno machine. In his post on the Plover Google Group, Josh says:
I'm excited to announce the Stenosaurus, a new stenotype machine I'm in the process of manufacturing. You can think of Stenosaurus as the hardware version of Plover - imagine having Plover with you no matter what computer you were using, without ever once needing to install any software. Stenosaurus is a drop-in replacement for a USB keyboard on any computer. As far as the computer is concerned, Stenosaurus appears just like any other USB keyboard. Under the hood, though, Stenosaurus is performing the same lookup and dictionary manipulation as Plover normally would.
You can catch a glimpse of the first prototype and sign up on a mailing list at http://www.stenosaurus.com.
Here are the features I'm shooting for:
* open source software and hardware
* availability late this year at a price point between $200 and $500
* bamboo case with natural zero-VOC wood finish
* removable brushed and anodized aluminum keys, available in different colors
* MX Cherry Black key switches
* 16x2 character LCD screen for displaying outlines and just-in-time
* power and communication via a removable USB cable
* dictionary stored on removable mini SD card
* no requirement to install software, so compatible with any
* desktop software tools for converting dictionaries and applying
* lightweight, small form factor (approximately 9" x 7" x 1")
* usable on a table, lap, or tripod
* protective carrying case for stowing in a backpack
* sustainably manufactured
* appropriate for professional stenographers, hackers, and curiosity seekers
Don't hesitate to suggest other features!
I'm Plover's original programmer, so of course Plover had a considerable influence on Stenosaurus. At the same time, I'm building
Stenosaurus from scratch. To keep costs down, the brain of Stenosaurus is necessarily too small to embed Plover directly, so even the firmware is being coded from the ground up. From the very first day Mirabai and I sat down together to work on what would become Plover, I've wanted to build a new stenotype. After several years and many diversions, Stenosaurus is it.
It's great to see how Plover has matured and taken on a life of its own. If you're at all interested in following this offshoot of Plover, please sign up on the mailing list at stenosaurus.com and joining the Stenosaurus Google Group."
Isn't it completely freaking gorgeous? I can't wait 'til I can get one. He's bringing a physical prototype (keys and case assembled, but no electronics yet) to meet me here in NYC next week. We'll hammer out any additional design details (wide keys, vowel key height, et cetera), then he'll go back to the West Coast to work on the firmware for the functional prototype, and as soon as we've got one operational Stenosaurus built, he'll put a crowdfunding campaign in place to get it made. I can see so many uses for this thing. It'll have mechanical keys, not lever-mounted ones, so I don't think it'll totally supplant the feather-light touch of my Infinity Ergonomic in most of my daily CART work, but it'll be light and slim enough that I can carry it in my bag every day as a backup, in case my Infinity breaks. I'll be able to use it at home as a keyboard replacement for my desktop machine -- no more slow and clumsy qwerty -- without having to wrassle my big Infinity out of the bag, unfold its arms, and set up my tripod every time I want to steno at my desk. Eventually I'm hoping we'll be able to get a special edition of the Stenosaurus with Bluetooth, which I can use with Glass or my Android tablet to enter text on the subway or in the park. It'll be an invaluable bang-up machine for traveling, or for taking to places where I'm worried my Infinity might get stolen or damaged. And I think it'll be a wonderful solution for steno students or enthusiasts who've outgrown the keytopped Sidewinder but aren't in a position to pay thousands of dollars for a professional machine.
As Josh mentioned, the Stenosaurus isn't officially a branch of The Plover Project, even though it was originally inspired by Plover and will be made by Plover's first developer. Hesky will continue to work on the main branch of Plover, and all the people who are working on tutorial material (interactive drills, games, and the like) will keep their attention primarily directed towards Plover users. But I think there's gonna be huge amount of overlap between Plover users and Stenosaurus owners, which is fantastic. Josh thinks he'll be able to incorporate a "steno machine mode" into the Stenosaurus, switching off the on-board translation to English and outputting serial steno code instead, so that it can work with both Plover and proprietary steno software.
But seriously. Just look at this thing. Bamboo and anodized aluminum. Tiny and lightweight. Plug-and-Go steno to English. What a beauty. There's been a huge demand for a low-cost, purpose-built steno machine for years and years and years now. I can't wait until it's finally under my fingers.