CINCINNATI - At first, the idea of a typing contest may strike you as a throwback. But, in the digital age millions of us spend more time at keyboards than we might have predicted.
So, it could actually be an opportune moment for the Cincy Typing Challenge, which kicks off Saturday with the qualifying round.
According to the event's website, it is "a skill-based texting and typing competition." Participants compete by texting or typing "predefined sentences provided by the Sponsor."
For the qualification round, participants can use a traditional typewriter, a computer keyboard, or both.
Here's how that round will proceed:
Enter the TREWGrip
The finals are where things might get really interesting. The Cincy Typing Challenge rules dictate that each finalist must use the TREWGrip , a new-fangled keyboard which makes its debut in conjunction with the challenge finals on July 25. TREWGrip is also the contest's lead sponsor.
The TREWGrip website features a picture of the device, a clock that counts down to its debut, and not much else. The website of its developer, Cincinnati's Outlier Technologies, is more revealing--describing the TREWGrip as:
"...a handheld 'rear-type' device that has tactile keyboard keys for typing, but on the back-side. The standard QWERTY key layout is split and rotated so the hands gripping TREWGrip can also do multi-finger text entry."
(In case you are wondering, QWERTY represents the first six keys on the top left letter row of the keyboard, read from left to right).
Mark Parker, TREWGrip president and inventor, said each of the eight Cincy Typing Challenge finalists will get to practice on a TREWGrip between the qualifying round and the finals. Parker said tests so far show it takes the average person eight to 10 hours to adjust to the using device instead of a standard keyboard.
"As soon as someone stops thinking about their hands, they begin to adapt," Parker said. "What better way to show how people can adapt than give them the device."
Parker said he hopes the TREWGrip will go into production in January 2014. A model costing $249 will be designed for people who work on the go and will use the keyboard with their mobile device--like inspectors and medical workers. A $349 will be available for desktop use, an device Parker said was sort of an accident.
"We didn't intend it," he said. "But the TREWGrip is very ergonomic, the way your wrists are positioned, it's a lot easier to use for someone sitting at their desk.
The prize money
It turns out typing at the speed of light can really pay. The Cincy Typing Challenge prizes break down as follows:
The stakes are not as high for the texting competition, a one-day challenge on July 20. The top prize for this competition is $500.
Get your type or text on