Wearables, smartwatches, smartphones, and even tablets have come a long way over the years. I’m sure many of you can remember a time when virtual keyboards – even of the QWERTY variety – were much less capable. Many of us at the time still preferred to use physical keyboards over virtual ones.
While that still may be the case today, as physical will always have an edge, there’s no denying that virtual keyboard experiences have improved considerably. It is now more than just possible to type a lengthy piece on a mobile device, it’s viable and happens more than you’d expect.
But when it comes to those smaller, more portable devices such as wearables and smartwatches, the keyboard experience is still lacking. You would never want to reply to a lengthy email or type out a blog post on, say, a smartwatch sitting on your wrist. Even if the keyboard experience could be perfected in some way, why would anyone in their right mind ever want to plug away at a super tiny keyboard on a less than 2-inch screen? Okay, being honest, I’ve done it in the past as I’m sure many of us have. But it’s not an ideal scenario and that’s the whole point.
Queue a piece of technology rightfully dubbed Tap. It’s a fabric based glove which resembles brass knuckles, designed to control a virtual keyboard wirelessly via Bluetooth. Wait, what?
The Tap Keyboard Rings Slide Onto Your Hand
The idea or core concept of Tap is to turn your hand – yes your actual hand – into a wireless keyboard. In this way, you can use just about any surface around you – like a table, wall, or even your body – to type text.
It’s a unique wearable that includes an interwoven series of rings – one for each finger – that slides up your fingers fairly close to your knuckles. The thumb ring or loop, is equipped with haptic feedback and a movement sensor. It operates as a makeshift mouse, also providing the necessary interactions to keep users informed as to what’s being passed to the device.
It’s not a conventional experience per se, as you’re not working with any kind of virtual layout you know – such as QWERTY. Instead, each finger takes the place of vowels in the alphabet. You also use a combination of gestures and strokes to type out other letters and phrases.
It’s a pretty amazing idea, and the implications are vast. Of course, it begs the question, what platforms can and will it be used for?
Platforms That Need Tap Keyboard
It’s no secret that trying to reply via text on a device like the Apple Watch is no fun. Sure, modern voice commands and dictation features – thanks to something like Siri – make it much easier. But you’re not always in an environment or scenario where you can call out your messages for everyone around you. Worse yet, if you have to send a sensitive reply, it’s just not a bright idea to dictate it for everyone else.
The Tap keyboard would be ideal for those experiences, particularly when responding while you’re in the middle of another activity. Because of the way the glove rests by your knuckles, you have plenty of room to carry out other activities – provided, obviously, the glove isn’t always recording your movements and can be disabled temporarily.
But it’s not just wearables and smartwatches that would benefit from something like this. Virtual and augmented reality platforms leave something to be desired when it comes to interacting with digital content. Gamepad controllers and touch-based tools only work well for simple actions. If you’re trying to, for instance, type on a VR-based keyboard it would be nicer to have something more tactile. That’s exactly why the Tap glove is so promising.
Bluetooth functionality means it can be used with anything from computers and mobile devices, to smart TVs and vehicle systems.
Where Can I Get the Tap Keyboard?
It’s not available just yet, sadly, but you can pre-order through the official site for $129.99. It comes with a nifty case, and shipments should be going out starting in late December and into early 2018.