Whether periphery keyboards and smartphones have a future together is a question that remains to be answered in the nearest decade. Currently, there are plenty of innovative software and hardware powered solutions that can make typing on a mobile device as smooth as on a laptop. We wonder what would be the future of user interface in smartphones? Will it be voice, gesture or maybe a thought-controlled interface?
Until the future is here, we shall review some of the novelties in the smartphone-keyboards department.
This one is a handheld keyboard, which curiously places the keys at the back of your smartphone. It looks better than it sounds, though. You can place your smartphone in the rear part of this peripheral, see the picture below. Alternatively, you can use this keyboard remotely as you connect it via Bluetooth. TrewGrip showcases a light-up indicator pad that shows which key is being pressed; this provides extra convenience in usage. Its ergonomic design also features a gyroscope motion sensor, which serves as a mouse pointer controller. In addition, the keyboard features a front-side navigation and control buttons, so it seems to be quite a powerful controller after all.
TrewGrip is expected to begin shipping in the second half of 2014. Now, the catch is the price tag – $250 for a smartphone keyboard sounds a little edgy. That is the price of Moto G and a number of cheaper Samsung smartphones. Unless the TrewGrip guys go down on the price, we anticipate this futuristic keyboard will pass by unnoticed. What do you think?
Minuum keyboard is software-driven, and it dumps the screen-consuming QWERTY layout in favor of a single-line of characters. This one is a smart piece of software because one of its main advantages is in text recognition. It reminds a bit the good old T9 system in the way it guesses and recognizes the gibberish you are trying to type and renders it into a coherent text.
It is available for Android smartphones only so far, and you can download it from Google Play for $1.99. The developers are ambitious, though, with wearables and gesture-controlled gadgets in stock to hit the market sometime soon. Take a look at the video below for a little insight on how Minuum developers view the future of smartwatch keyboards and several wearable-powered gesture typing methods.
Gauntlet is not a keyboard at all; its idea is to type without a keyboard, so the guys behind Gauntlet came up with the idea of wireless keyboard glove. Where other keyboards and smart peripherals rely on the old keyboard principle that you have to press a key to input a letter, Gauntlet typing relies on one-handed figure gestures.
Gauntlet launched more than two years ago, with the latest edition featuring letter keys on different areas of each finger of the glove. The keys are gesture-triggered by thumb touches. So, all you have to do is touch a letter with your thumb. It is possible to program the glove to perform common functions, such as backspace, or delete, in soft swiping gestures.
The Gauntlet glove connects to your device via Bluetooth, so it is compatible with a large variety of devices from smartphones to laptops and computers.
Gauntlet is a college project that made it to become quite a successful start-up, so we hope to see the keyboard glove evolve.
Grippity is somewhat similar to TrewGrip in a way that it puts the keyboard at the back of the device. However, it is not a peripheral, rather a fully fledged tablet with a dual-sided touch screen and ten finger typing capability. You will be typing both on the front and back of the screen at the same time. In addition, the display is transparent, which allows users to see their fingers that are using the reverse side of the tablet to type.
Overall, Grippity seems like a very capable kick starter in need of some good funding to get going. We hope Israeli start-up will be able to come up with enough funding to launch their product this year at an affordable price. If you are interested in getting updates on the project, you can sign up to receive project updates here.
Tactus is definitely a winner on the list because it feels as if it came from the future. This keyboard requires more than just download or a case; it features some unique hardware that needs to be installed on the device. Tactus panel sits atop the device; the panel is filled with micro-fluid channels that morph literally out of your display when you type, and then morph back into the display when you stop typing. It feels incredibly weird and surrealistically cool. The company showcased Tactus keyboard at CES 2014 and apparently made some partnerships to power some high-end devices with its keyboard.
Besides the unique hardware you would expect to see no earlier than in Star Trek era, Tactus is developer-friendly so we can expect to see different design of keyboards and game controllers powered with Tactus technology.
According to the company, we will see the first Tactus powered keyboards available to general consumers this year. We still do not know the price, but we anticipate it won’t come cheap.