Personal computing devices have grown progressively smaller in size every few generations. As screens shrink, typing with on-screen keyboards becomes more challenging. We have predictive typing to thank for making texting on phones remotely bearable. With smartwatches, though, input technology has been forced to up its game – even to the extent of considering ways to make virtual keyboards out of our forearms. A new wearable attempts to take it a step further by taking the ‘board’ out of keyboard typing, making it possible to type into any Bluetooth-enabled device by tapping your fingers on anything.
The Tap Strap is a flexible plastic wearable meant to be worn on the hand just above the knuckles. Tapping your thumb three times on any flat surface turns the device ON. Once activated, it can be used, by tapping literally any surface, to type into any application on any device that has Bluetooth connectivity. There isn’t a holographic virtual keyboard or anything fancy like that. An MCU (microcontroller) in the strap connects to sensors which detect taps made anywhere and converts them into commands or characters for inputs into phones, tablets, and TVs.
The device is portable and it’s versatile, but here’s the rub: there’s an actual learning curve involved in becoming proficient at typing with the Tap Strap – essentially, the user has to wrap their head around the various combinations of finger taps that correspond to each letter, number and special character. To help users get familiar with the typing method, Tap Strap’s makers have created an iOS app called Tap Genius, which uses music and mnemonics to teach various gestures. This may all sound like a lot of work, but the team claims it takes only an hour with the app to learn to type fluently using Tap Strap.
Tap Strap can be charged using a regular micro-USB cable; it takes about 3 hours for a full charge. Once topped up, the battery lasts four hours of continuous use or 72 hours in standby mode.
Tap Strap is a whole new form of input that takes a while-ish to learn, but it offers a much-needed alternative to standard QWERTY keyboards. Typing in smartwatches and hands-free devices like Google Glass will become a lot simpler with a device like this.
There also are a number of less obvious use cases. Creator Ran Poliakine tells Bloomberg that he hopes to see Tap Strap being adopted by OEMs for use with virtual reality systems such as HoloLens and OculusRift. He also sees the the possibility of it being used to play virtual musical instruments, and as a way for the visually challenged to interact with electronic devices.
The Tap Strap is currently in a private Beta; it is expected to be available to a wider audience before the end of 2016.
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Too bad they’re only on a niche OS like iOS. They’ll really take off when they get around to developing a version for the world’s most popular smartphone OS.
Shuhei Yoshida says
I’d rather just have Alex-Jacobson-pants from the original Deus Ex. Just a keyboard on my pants that I can use.
While it may be clunky for use as a keyboard, making it midi capable could be a very cool way to play VSTi drums, piano, or use as a midi trigger setup to control lights, samples, or anything. As a mobile keyboard tho, I can’t imagine needing to send a text and stopping to strap this on. Voice to text is simply quicker.
That was the article I came here to read!
Tobar the magnificent says
Oddly the video stress use with portables where stopping to pull out and affix a ‘strap’ for a short message is unlikely to be convenient or faster.
In a workstation environment it would make more sense, though it could be a hard sell when you add in ‘voice to text’ availability.
It’s crap and you know it. Same as that Ring thing.
total and utter crap.
crap crap! the crapper!
Jammie Williams says
I am starting to really like reading about these gadgets that are setup for those that want something a little different. Even though the group of consumers that might buy this is small, it will fit a need for THEM and that is all that matters.
First of all, companies want to make as much money as possible. They would not spend all the time, money, and effort on this device if they did not believe a sufficient number of people would purchase it to pay off the companies investment in the product and make it a lot of money. Second of all, you make it sound like a bad thing if a company makes a product for a small set of customers. Why is this a bad thing? Does it inconvenience you in any way?
You absolutely, 100% misinterpreted every aspect of his comment. Re-read it again. He shares the same point as you.
How does one fail this fantastically at reading comprehension?
Diane Harper says
Very neat instrument that will be helpful in some instances for sure. Maybe travel? Most people do not like to tap on a screen if they can help it and this would help that right?