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virtual keyboard

(1) An on-screen keyboard that is used with a mouse. An accessibility option for people with impairments, the keys are pressed by pointing to the key on screen and clicking the mouse.

(2) A keyboard displayed on a touchscreen. Also called a "soft keyboard," tapping the "virtual keys" with a stylus or finger is the same as pressing a real key on a keyboard. Contrast with physical keyboard. See soft key.




The iPhone's Virtual Keyboard
Until you remove your finger on the iPhone keyboard, there is no input. If you press the wrong letter, which you can tell immediately from the enlarged letter feedback, you can slide your finger to the correct letter and then let go.




(3) A full keyboard displayed from a pocket-sized projector. When a person types, the key depressions are picked up by an optical or electronic beam.




Lightweight and Full Size
This small Brookstone unit (red arrow) projects a virtual keyboard onto a flat surface, allowing a full-size keyboard to be used anywhere.






soft key

(1) A simulated button or keyboard key that is displayed on a touchscreen. Also called a "soft button," "virtual button" or "virtual key," touchscreen soft keys enable smartphones, tablets and remote controls to display any style of user interface. However, they have not entirely made real keys obsolete. A few physical buttons can greatly enhance a touch user interface. See touchscreen and virtual keyboard.

(2) A physical button that serves multiple functions on cellphones and other devices. The button is located next to the screen, which displays the key's purpose at that moment. See virtual keyboard.




A Soft Key
In this example, the same physical key on this earlier cellphone is used to make and terminate a call. After the call is connected, the soft key changes from Call to End.






Soft Keys at the Gas Pump
A common use is at the gas pump when a response is required. The screen asks the user if a receipt should be printed and displays Yes or No next to the appropriate soft keys (arrows).






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virtual hypertextvirtual LAN
virtual I/Ovirtual library
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virtual instrumentVirtual Machine Manager
virtual IPvirtual machine monitor
virtual IP addressvirtual machine snapshot
virtual ISPvirtual market
virtual jobvirtual marketplace

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