Developed by IBM the PS/2 interface was often used for connecting keyboard, mouse or trackball to the computer, during the 1990s. Nowadays USB plugs or adaptors replaced this interface almost unexceptional.
The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an established connector for external devices, transmitting data files serially. There are many different types of USB devices, which can be used for storing data, power supply or just to connect devices. The data transmission rate ranges from 12 Mbit/s (USB 1.0) to almost 20 Gbit/s (USB 3.2).
Recommended Standard 232, developed in the 1960s is a connector which was used in main frame and text terminal applications. Transmitting data files sequencially this interface is hardly used nowadays without converting it to USB.
Radio technology enables the transmission of information by modulated electromagnetic waves. Cables are not necessary for the connection of external devices and the computer. Influences such as high electrical current can interfere with the connection.
Bluetooth connections only work over a short distance. Data files are transmitted by Point-to-Point or Point-to-Multipoint (WPAN) short-distance radio technology. Interferences are more unlikely because of the short distance. The main purpose of Bluetooth is to connect devices without a cable.
The USB nano dongle is a small receiver which connects external devices (keyboard, mouse) to the computer by radio technology. Almost unlimited mobility of the external devices is granted as only one USB-port is needed. The dongle transmitts data files with 2.4 GHz radio technology.
Transmitted information are spread on several frequencies within short intervals. Amongst others this technology is used with Bluetooth and WLAN.
Keyboards with chip card reader
The SCM PC-Card GmbH is a leading manufacturer for chip card readers and OEM. Over the years, chip sets of SCM developed to a quality feature.
PC/SC is a standard interface for chip card readers. Supported by the common operating systems it is used all over the world. Not supporting memory chip cards is a disadvantage of this interface.
CCID is a protocol that enables the connection of a chip card to the computer over a USB chip card reader, without inventing an individual protocol. Therefore chip cards can be used as security tokens.
Due to the health insurance card the Card Terminal Application Programming Interface (CT/API) was an attempt to create a standard interface. It consists of a Dynamic Link Library (DLL) and a standardized interface mostly provided by the manufacturers. Impossible to market globally, this interface only exists in Germany.
SCR is the abbreviation for Smart Card Reader.
ISO 7816 is a multi-part standard which covers the essential physical, software and electrical features of chip cards.
- ISO 7816 Part 1
Defines the physical features of a chip card.
- ISO 7816 Part2
Defines the order of the magnetic stripes and the chip contact surface of a card.
- ISO 7816 Part3
Defines electrical signals, transmission protocols as well as the card reader terminal.
- ISO 7816 Part 4
Defines the application level, file structure, file organisation and mechanisms for industrial applications.
Gemalto NV is a leading manufacturer for chip card readers and OEM. These chip sets developed to a quality feature over the past years.
Magnetic Card Keyboards
Magnetic card readouts always start with 6 Byte Header. This Header shows the functions as well as all readable files to the magnetic card reader. Header bytes do not include files.
The Terminator indicates the readout finish. The bytes sent from the Terminator do not include files.
Magnetic cards have 3 file tracks. Depending on the application one, two or three tracks are driven. Consequently the 3 track magnetic card reader by Active Key is designed for universal usage in different applications.
Two v-shaped (sometimes prismatic), closely together and crossed contacts are characteristic for the Gold Cross Point Contact System. This configuration grants quicker contacting, reduced abrasion and bouncing and a constantly low contact resistance. This contact system was first patented by Western Electric in 1930.
The Cherry MX switch is a mechanical switch based on the Gold Cross Point Contact technology. Its average life expectancy is about 50 million actuations. Initially presented in 1983 the MX switch was only available in the version „linear“. Other versions were added by and by.
In contrast to common keyboards, Scissor Balancing Key Technology is inserted to reduce the noise emmission while operating. Every single key sits on a cross switch. Due to the reduced switch force keyboards with scissor balancing key technology are the best choice in open plan offices.
The pressure point results as soon as an electrical signal is transmitted to the computer. The pressure point makes it perceptible when the computer recognizes key actuation.
Key stroke is the displacement distance between the key and the actuation. It is essential to know how far the key needs to be pressed to reach the point of pressure.
Standard or Desktop sized keyboards have the normal QWERTY block, a separate Cursor block and also a separated Num Pad.
Compact keyboards do not have a separate Cursor or Num pad. Both is integrated in the main key field. The keyboard gets more space-saving and could be set up in drawers or mobile applications e.g. a trolley in hospital.
Mini keyboards completely do without the Num pad. The Cursor keys are also integrated in the main key field. These keyboards are set up in drawers or mobile applications e.g. trolleys as well as vehicles.
The medical products law defines the requirements of the european legal guidelines (90/385/EWG) relating to active, medical devices and products for clinical applications and usage. The Medical Products Law superseded the Medical Devices Regulation in 2002.
Since the 01 January 2001 the Infection Protection Law controls the combat and prevention of human medical infectious diseases. Early detection and prevention of communicable diseases and infections is the main purpose of this law. The type and path of infection is disregarded. Humans, animals and plants are considered separately.
The VAH-List is a list of disinfectant liquids of the German Verbund für Angewandte Hygiene (VAH). The disinfectants and the active ingredients were examined by independent test laboratories and classified as appropriate with regard to chemical disinfection. Above all end users can find all VAH certified products together with the corresponding information and instructions for use.
EN 60601-1 is a European norm that defines the requirements for electrical systems for the purpose of treatment, diagnosis and monitoring. Also belonging to this norm further standards (collateral standard; particulate standard) must be respected.
The German „Deutsche Gesellschaft für Hygiene und Mikrobiologie“ (DGHM) is a scientific expert association, which promotes exchanges among German scientists in hygienic and microbiological divisions.
The Robert-Koch-Institut is a federal institute focussed on the populations‘ health. It operates a number of researches in healthcare, diseases and hygiene. Scientists from different departments perform therese researches. Promoting global networking, the scientists also cooperate transnational. Furthermore the RKI dedicates to local and global problems such as Ebola fever. Standing for transparency the RKI publishes its results inter alia in journals and also the internet.
The commission for hygiene in hospitals and infection prevention creates recommendations with regard to hygiene in hospitals and infection prevention. The disinfection and sanitization of medical devices is one major task. Their results are published by the RKI. Came into force in 2001 the Infection Protection Law defines all the tasks, competences but also the limits of the KRINKO.
Cross-contamination is the direct or indirect, unintentional transfer of germs or infections. Careless cleaning of dishes or clothes as well as washing hands contributes to cross-contamination. If they are not reprocessed properly, PC keyboards are also a good breeding ground. Especially hospitals are highly endangered as many different germs and pathogens come toghether within a small area. Comprehensive and proper disinfection measures are of very high priority.
That is an infection that occurs during a stay in hospital or a care facility. Hardly to prove, nosocomial infectious agents are likely passed on to patients by nursing staff or visitors. Unfortunately an increasing number of multi-resistant germs developed during the last years. Those germs cause more serious infections as they are resistant against common disinfection or treatment methods.
Types of disinfection
The cleaning agent is sprayed on the surface. Therefore parts of the surface are wetted which are not reachable just by surface disinfection. As this method is very quick it is also a useful supplement to normal wipe disinfection. Harming to health, cleaning agents can be inhaled while sprayed. Moreover the surface needs to be wiped after spraying to grant a proper disinfection.
Being considered as a subcategory of the surface disinfection, the cleaning agent is dispersed by wiping on the keyboard or mouse surface. Precise dosage and exposure time are very important (see exposure time VAH-List). The VAH-List is accessible for every user.
For the surface disinfection it is necessary to spread the cleaning agent extensively on the keyboard or mouse. Afterwards the remainings need to be washed down. It is essential to respect the particular exposure time as it contributes to a proper disinfection.
The keyboard or mouse is flushed with the cleaning agent and cleaned up mechanically. Coarse dirt gets washed off by the flowing cleaning agent. With the help of a soft cloth or a smooth brush the remaining residues can be removed easily. If the keyboard is completely waterproof this type of reprocession is recommended otherwise it takes damage.
Keyboards or mouse are immersed into cleaning agents. Depending to the exposure time the remaining residues are washed down afterwards. Compared with the normal surface disinfection, this method is much more effective but also more time-consuming and expensive.
There are several ways to sterilize the keyboard but basically it effects by using hot steam with up to 125°C. Depending on the method the steam flows around the keyboard with over or negative pressure or as a steam-air mixture. Most germs can be eradicated with this method.
While autoclaved the keyboards are disinfected under overpressure in a gas tight container. This process removes deep-rooted dirt compared with a normal disinfection but is more time-consuming.
The protection class indicates the protection of an electrical devices against external influences such as the ingress of liquid, foreign objects or even touches. Also the user protection while operating the device is taken into account.
Protection categories for electrical devices are defined to avoid outgoing electrial shocks. Depending on the classification the devices are separated in four categories. Products of the protection category 0 has no symbol and therefore is not approved within the EU.
The protection level is indicated by the IP number. First and second digit comply with the indices. X means that there is no need for an Index. Higher IP constellations from IPX7 do not include the lower automatically.
|DIN EN 60529||Protection against foreign objects||Protection against contact|
|0||No Protection||No Protection|
|1||Protection against foreign objects with radius >25mm||No damage when touched with the back of the hand|
|2||Protection against foreign objects with radius >6.25mm||No damage when touched with a finger|
|3||Protection against foreign objects with radius >1.25mm||No damage when touched with tools|
|4||Protection against foreign objects with radius >0.5mm||No damage when touched with wire|
|5||Protection against dust in a larger amount||No damage when touched in any way|
|6||Dust-tight – No ingress of dust possible||No damage when touched in any way|
|DIN EN 60529||Protection against ingress of water|
|1||No ingress of dripping water|
|2||No ingress of falling dripping water at a slope up to 15°|
|3||No ingress of falling spray water at a slope up to 60°|
|4||No ingress of splash water on all sides|
|5||No ingress of hose water on any angle|
|6||No ingress of hose water with high pressure|
|7||No ingress of water when immersed over limited time|
|8||No ingress of water when immersed over unlimited time|
|9||Protection against water / high-pressure sterilization in agriculture|
Products with the key figures IP65 are protected against any kind of external touch and the ingress of dust. Moreover it is protected against the ingress of hose water from any angle.
Products with the key figures IP68 are protected against any kind of external touch and the ingress of dust. Moreover it is well protectd against the ingress of water even immersed over an unlimited period of time. Needless to say it is also dust and water proof.
POS (Point of Sale) Keyboards are mainly used together with cash register systems. Normally they are programmable and therefore have an internal memory. Many of them are also equipped with an additional magnetic card or chip card reader.
Highly secured with a lock, key switches are simple electrical switches. Key switches with a normal keyhole can often be unlocked in several positions. It is also possible to take out the key in different positions.
A touchpad is a pointing device for the computer which replaces the common mouse. Making it possible to operate just with the keyboard, the touchpad is integrated into the keyboard. The operation is made by moving the finger over the capacitive area of the touchpad.
The trackball is a pointing device for the computer which is mounted with ball bearings on 3 positions. If the trackball is moved optical sensors on the bottom transfer the movements to the screen.
The point density indicates the precision with different visual images. The precision of a computer mouse is specified in DPI (Dots per Inch). This means in effect how many dots per inch can be scanned. The higher the DPI, the more sensitive is the mouse. Some mice have adjustable DPI figures. The user is able to configurate individual settings in sensitiveness and precision.
Optical Mice use a light source that illuminates the surface underneath the mouse. The reflecting light is absorbed by a sensor processing it as images. By calculating the difference between the single pictures the direction and speed of the mouse can be identyfied and put out on the screen. Equipped with more efficient processors modern optical mice are operatable on almost every surface.
Laser mice are improved optical mice, as they use laser diodes instead of LEDs. They are based on infrared technology to achieve higher contrasts. Therefore movements of the device can be captured more efficient even on smooth surfaces. Transparent surfaces e.g. glass still cause scan problems though.
Nano-Silver the most successful product within Nano-Technology is antimicrobial. Reducing odours it is inserted in several cleaning and washing agents. Basic components for hygienic or cosmetic products are fortiefied with nano silver particles due to its germ-reducing effects. It has been proven that Nano-Particles harm the environment and humans. Due to their size, Nano-Particles pass through human cell structures and accumulate within the body. The particles kill negative germs as well as the essential. The use of Nano-Silver is controversial. In order to protect the user and the environment, Active Key completely does without Nano-Silver coatings.
Silicone is a multifarious and universal plastic material, which combines chemical resistance (against a great variety of chemicals with a high temperature resistance) and flexibility (even at low temperatures). As covers for keyboards and mice silicone membranes are used as they are heat resistant and stay elastic. Silicones can be coloured by adding pigments. Its chemical features and degrees of hardness can be adjusted depending on the application.
Polyurethane is one of the most important components for the plastic industry. According to the manufacturing PU can be hard and brittle or even elastic and soft. The features of this material vary significantly. Therefore it is adjustable depending on the application.
PU as an elastomer, can be used for manufacturing keyboard covers or membranes.
Illuminating the key from behind, many tiny LEDs are used for LED background lighting. This way the illumination level is more homogeneous compared with common backlight methods. As the LEDs are dimmable the user is able to adjust the brightness if necessary.
For install a screen on the wall or ceiling a VESA mount is necessary. Originally came from the computer grafics sector, VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association) is one of the major standardization organisations. Even several keyboards are equipped with VESA standard threads to mount them if necessary.
The free software tool Matrix Maker makes it possible to set individual strings or shortcuts on the keys. The Matrix Maker creates a virtual keyboard. The user just chooses the keys and assigns different functions.
The OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) manufactures products or parts but does not bring them into retail.