49 uses for an illuminated keyboard

The full and unexpurgated list - plus our competition winners

Calling all nematodes...

Well, the results of our illuminated keyboard competition are in - proof, were it needed, of our readers' fertile minds.

So great was the response, that we can't possibly list all of the inventive uses you thought up. We have, nevertheless, distilled the best into the following list. For your reading convienience, we've also grouped suggestions under broad headings. Enjoy.

The professional world

It's clear that the following people would benefit from an illuminated keyboard:

Anyone working in California (UPS required) Various readers

Firefly catchers Rod Gordon

Those doing Powerpoint demonstrations Jonathan Schwartz

Nightclub DJs James Woodcock

Theatre lighting and special effects technicians Bosah Vandenburg

Video editors John Campbell

Mushroom farmers Andy Miller

Astronomers James T morgan

Cavers and potholers Sam C

Astronauts (on the dark side of the moon) Sam C

Special forces (to chat on irc without destroying their night vision) Mark Ralph Dobie

FBI/CIA/MI5/MI6 while in surveillance van Tim Pilkington

Darkroom technicians (red safelight version)

Journalists covering solar eclipses David Carabott

Now, what about the illuminated keyboard as a practical device to solve those everyday problems?:

Nuts and bolts

The keyboard would be ideal for those people who wish to lock themselves away in a cupboard until after an election Lee Meadows

You can use it as a night light if you're afraid of the dark after playing creepy games Cindy Buchoon

To illuminate the fridge next to my PC desk so I can grab a beer rather than something healthy Carl Scheffler

To see what you're typing while looking cool in sunglasses in the office Colin Dickens

For those who have glasses containing screens on them, and need to see the keyboard past the display Justin Masters

If the keyboard also emits UV light it could be handy to maintain that all-over tan in winter Scott Watson

It's good for the college student who doesn't want to upset his/her psycho (gun magazine collecting) roomate when up late writing a term paper the night before it's due Ryan Gwaltney

To find toe nail clippings, screws, etc., etc. under the desk Various

To appreciate the luminescent glow produced from all the bacteria living on the remains of pepperoni pizza and hamburgers lying around the PC Peter Reeves-Hall

It's a good indicator of the rate at which your hair is falling out as it gets caught in the crevices of your keyboard John Bell

It would be good for beginners: 'Where's the damn 'c' key?' [BLINK BLINK] '...oh, there it is.' With appropriate software Magnus Eriksson

As a full-time geek and nerd I am never away from a computer. recently, using my portable in the shower has had its drawbacks as the keys get steamed up too quickly. I solved the problem of the screen becoming fogged by keeping it under the shower head but it was hard redirecting the water stream onto the keyboard as well. An illuminated keyboard would solve this problem admirably Adrian Edmonds

So I can tell my wife there's a buffer leak and she'd better not touch the computer while I'm away Charles Farlee

I want one that flashes along with the klaxons that go off when someone looks at porn on the house computer Simon Fuller

Line up a set of them to guide you to the bathroom Mike Lupiani

The illuminated keyboard will be necessary to locate and execute the correct key combination which switches off the illumination feature Joel Cutrara

Very good. So, what about the contribution the illuminated keyboard can make to a user's success with his or her peers?:

Life and love

I suppose it's too obvious to suggest that one might want such a keyboard if one were to partake in a little - ahem - 'left-handed browsing,' if you see what I mean, with the lights out to avoid detection Scott Earle

For those with webcams, the keyboard would make a good source of light from below, removing any unpleasant shadows, and thus making the person even more attractive to the mid-50s Daily Mail journalist masquerading as a schoolgirl Philip Smith

Open the window, hold the cord, and let the keyboard make a short free-fall drop outside. Maybe you'll finally manage to get the attention you wanted so badly from the lady/guy in the building opposite Nikos Moumouris

Stick it onto the back of your car instead of those tacky neon numberplate holders to show that you are a true techno-nerd Chris O'Shea

I want one because the guy next to me at the LAN party won't have one and it'll make him jealous. Isn't that the reason we do all that case modding in the first place? Scott Borlick

Yes, probably. Let's not forget the real difference that this device could make to...

The arts

To portray the console of an alien spacecraft in some crappy low budget sci-fi film. So much easier to enter viruses that will cripple the alien mothership David Bolton

If you are making a terrible 'cyberpunk neo-futurist' film. Or Breathe ad. Diggory Laycock

As a sound-to-light system for your WinAmp music Max Smolev

A fairground attraction for fleas - each key is a little illuminated trampoline... Sploo

I can imagine that typing in darkness, only illuminated by the bluish glow of the keyboard, grants a certain fertile atmosphere which will serve to increase creativity and a poetic apprehension in the face of rather overwhelming technicality a computer usually represents:

Oh keyboard mine
In darkness shine
By your blue light
Type through night
Till daylight come
And yellow sun
Replaces blue
Your light so true.

Bjorn Loesing

We think that you've just presented the strongest case against the illuminated keyboard there, Bjorn. Don't call us - we'll call you.

Our final category represents perhaps the most critical potential uses for an illuminated keyboard - in which the technology might save your life. Or fix your car. Whatever.

Clear and present danger

You might be shipwrecked on an island with your laptop and your sensitive TFT display is broken, so all you have to signal an airplane is your lit keyboard Kannan

If you are worried about snipers, and don't want to leave the lights on 'cos they'll be able to see you, and might take pot-shots at you, it's great. You can leave the lights off and not worry about being spotted through the window. Doesn't work if the assassin has night sights Adam Wynne

I found out by accident that a keyboard is almost exactly the right shape to hold a Mini engine forward of the exhaust manifold while trying to extract it using a block and tackle. If it was illuminated then I could see down the back of the engine to disconnect the speedo cable Ro

For those suffering from taphephobia (fear of being buried alive) auch a keyboard nailed to the inside of the coffin lid would be a godsend, allowing them to accurately type a 'get me out of here' email to their loved ones Tad Piesakowski

Enough, we say, enough. Now on to our winners. We originally said that we'd award three exclusive Reg lapel pins. In the event, we couldn't decide between these five. Pins to the lot of 'em:

I'd use an illuminated keyboard so I didn't have to switch my lights on, thereby avoiding indicating to the FBI that I was in. I would of course not actually have any mains electricity there anyway, as this would naturally be used by the Feds to snoop on me, picking up sound, vision and even thoughts from everyone within six feet of a power outlet. So I'd be running my system off my own hydro-electric turbine out back, up in the hills, proudly protected from outside interference by myself and my 20-stron highly-armed militia (Ched, Zeb, Chuck et al - brothers in arms in more ways than one).

The cool blue glow of the keyboard isn't ideal - I'd prefer red, as I want to keep my night vision intact, ready for the inevitable federal assault, but this would clearly be un-American, Communist and possibly even Republican. So I guess I'll stick with the patriotic blue, being as it is the background to the glorious representation od all our states on our proud Star-Spangled Banner.

And finally, when the stormtroopers DO come crashing through the windows, I could throw it at them, blinding them temporarily, giving me precious seconds to make it to the root-cellar and light eh blue touch paper, striking a blow for all free, proud Americans by blowing the compound, myself, and half the FBI to high heaven Skip Bruce

Ever seen a hamster in a remote controlled aeroplane landing at night? No, but that's only because they've never had landing lights before. Remove all the keys and put them in a row and viola, instant lit landing strip David McMinn

If it's waterproof too, it would be invaluable to divers in search of phosphorescent nematodes who would be drawn by the unnatural glow in the dark. This would render the tagging of aforementioned worms significantly easier. If you've ever tried tagging a nematode, you'll truly understand what a boon this would be. If it's not waterproof, it would be single use only Nick Condie

We have an employee who generally has his head up his ass. Maybe he could take the keyboard with him and get some work done for a change Jerry L. Rogers

Everyone should have one, so I can see where all your gear is Bob the Burglar

Marvellous stuff indeed. Thanks to all those who entered, and congratulations to our winners. ®

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