It looks like a clip from the film Minority Report, you know the scene? Where Tom Cruise is doing all those hand gestures in mid-air and icons and text appear in front of him?
Seems that scenario wasn’t too far off from the future of wearable tech, as a new keyboard that you wear on your hand is launching at the end of this year.
The Tap Strap is an ingenious device you wear on your fingers and works by tapping your fingers on any surface, instead of you using a conventional keyboard.
How the Tap Strap works
It works via Bluetooth by converting the movements you make with your fingers into key presses. Inside the device there are embedded sensors that monitor information sent back from the hand and fingers.
This is then processed by an MCU which decodes this data into letters and words via a Bluetooth radio. It can be used to send text messages, tweet, email or update social media.
The Tap Strap can be used on any hand or even both for speedier typing. You slide it over your hand like a glove and basically any surface is now a keyboard.
Unlike the Minority Report film however, there are no icons to touch or any visual clues, you have to get used to the unique code to which the Tap Strap is programmed.
The company behind Tap Strap say that there are 31 identifiable finger taps. You’ll be happy to know that the device has incorporated a predictive text element, which will probably prove to be most popular.
There’s an accuracy level of “99 percent,” says Ran Poliakine, creator of the Tap Strap.
“We’ve invented a new smart textile that when you place it on your hand you can turn any surface into a keyboard,” Poliakine said in an interview.
“It’s important because when you have a smartwatch, or iPad or any other device that you need to activate or interact with on the go, right now you need to sit down and have a keyboard, or to touch on a screen.”
So what’s the point of the Tap Strap?
The company say that there is a privacy issue at state and state that their gesture-based system is an alternative to voice-based systems. They predict that using hand gestures eliminates the prospect of data being stolen or phished in scamming attempts. Their strap also eliminates the need to carry around a keyboard.
The Tap Strap would also be useful for typing when using devices such as a smartwatch, where the screen is small and difficult to pinpoint with accuracy.
What happens when you use the Tap Strap?
When you put on the Tap Strap and start tapping you will immediately see a letter or number appear on the screen of your device. Use different hand gestures will produce different letters and numbers. For instance, one tap from each of your fingers translates into a vowel, whilst combinations of tapping and gestures produce consonants.
Future use of Tap Strap
Tap Systems founder Poliakine is not stopping at the device producing letters and numbers. He hopes that in the future it will be used to play music and even games by incorporating into mixed reality hardware.
There’s also talk of offering the device to the blind or visually impaired, which would be a cool move for Poliakine as he gets his device tested and opens the door to a billion-dollar industry in doing so.
“This is a transformative technology, where they can be as facile with mobile as a sighted person,” Schick said.
According to Transparency Market Research, there is a market for devices to assist the disabled and elderly that could reach $19.6 billion by 2019.
In the meantime, we wait to see whether this is the next greatest thing, or the next big failure.
It goes on sale later this year.