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Input Devices Apple

An iPad Keyboard You Can Type On and Swipe Through 93

Posted by timothy
from the better-mousetrap-of-silicone dept.
TechCrunch features an article (the first of three, actually) outlining the development of a clever hardware keyboard for the iPad. It's hard to write about Kickstarter projects, because there are so many cool ideas that seem to deserve funding it's simply overwhelming. The TouchFire keyboard is one of those cool ideas, too, but it's far surpassed the founders' original funding goals and is nearing production. The TouchFire isn't wired, but it isn't wireless, either, in the conventional sense, because it provides no signal of its own: it's a transparent overlay that provides a tactile interface to the iPad's on-screen keyboard, and — the tricky part — is thin enough to actually swipe through when you're not using it for text-entry. The keyboard takes advantage of the iPad 2's built-in magnets for stability, though it works with the original iPad, too. (Hopefully an Android version will come soon, but the variety of screen resolutions and on-screen keyboard shapes makes that harder.) I talked with co-creator Steve Isaac (it's his account at TechCrunch, too) a few weeks back, and he said that the hardest part of the development work has been producing the complex mold shapes that form each collapsible key. The resulting tablet-with-keyboard reminds me superficially, and pleasantly, of the TRS-80 Model 100. (The Tandy actually had much better battery life than an iPad, but could do far less. It also weighed 3.1 pounds and cost more than a thousand dollars in 1983, which means nearly $2400 today; such is progress.) Prototypes are tight (and I don't have an iPad), but I hope to give an in-person report on the TouchFire soon.
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An iPad Keyboard You Can Type On and Swipe Through

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  • This looks to be... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gweilo8888 (921799) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:08PM (#38280682)
    ...an inelegant solution to a problem that doesn't exist. I can already type very fast on my on-screen keyboard without the need for silly tactile gadgets, and haptic feedback exists for the folks who aren't able to do so.

    I just don't see the need for a device that covers half the screen, making it hard to see or read what's beneath; I might as well leave the on-screen keyboard up all the time and lose half of my screen real-estate. Also I don't care what the article says, I do not believe that swipe entry will be as usable through this layer. Nor will it work if I rotate my screen.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:16PM (#38280786) Homepage Journal

    and in between those uses its easy to move away. If it makes typing on my iPad easier then its worth it. The problem I faced was having a BT keyboard to make using the device for input easier.

    Considering the size this is far better solution if it truly does mitigate the issue some have with typing. Yes, I am a "backer". I have bought a few items from the Kickstarter groups, more aimed towards whimsical than this.

    Still haven't figured out if all those that do get funding actually pay themselves a decent rate for their hours. For some projects it really seems that they skip over that part.

  • I miss the Tandy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:34PM (#38281018)

    The 100 was a portable writing tool that has yet to be equaled. It was the mechanics of the thing. Typing on one was a joy. Add to that the perfect instant-on and the ruggedness and it's no wonder that many writers held onto them long, long after they were obsolete. Some people still use and love them. I have one and only the lack of easy data transfer to other devices or the network prevents me from using it as my primary writing hardware.

    I would happily pay the price of an iPad for a new 100 that ran just enough linux for me to get into vi. I'd happily accept the 8-line monochrome lcd. The only required bit of modernity would be a couple of current ports. For a huge upgrade, give it the Enable software suite, a wonderful office suite that did 99% of everything that most users need, all accessed via an arrow-to-do-everything interface that was fast, fast, fast. (Oh, wait, Enable was bought and killed off by..who was it?)

    If this screen overlay thingie is anywhere close to producing a modern version of the 100, I'll buy one and predict surprisingly brisk sales. Somehow, I doubt that's how things will work out.

  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Tuesday December 06, 2011 @12:48PM (#38281260)

    It's hard to write about Kickstarter projects, because there are so many cool ideas that seem to deserve funding it's simply overwhelming. The TouchFire keyboard is one of those cool ideas, too, but it's far surpassed the founders' original funding goals and is nearing production.

    I've been very interested in a kickstarter project for the last six months, one I didn't know about until the deadline passed.. It reached almost 300% of it's funding level, started production, and...nothing.

    They have an official website, and it never seemed to change. It was always "Sign up for the mailing list; we'll let you know when we've completed the kickstarter orders and can take orders from the public!" I had no idea when and if they were ever actually going to put out a product I could buy; I've already bought a conventional model in that time.

    I finally noticed today that they were updating their kickstarter page; they've been posting their progress in detail and expect to take public orders next month. I just wasn't looking there because I didn't get in on the kickstart and did I mention they have an official website?

    Sometimes kickstarter is awesome; sometimes it's an intolerable pain in the ass to be someone's guinea pig in the transition from garage engineer to functional company.

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