For those who need to type on the go, but don’t like creating large text documents using just their tablet or smartphone, a British firm has just the thing.
CSR, which is based in Cambridge, showcased a keyboard just half a millimetre thick at the IFA electronics fair in Berlin.
At this stage, the product is just a prototype, but it is hoped it could be on the market in 12 months’ time.
Developers are now hoping to be able to work with tablet makers, and creators of cases and other gizmos, to fine tune the use of the keyboard. It could be used as an add on for tablet users, or even incorporated into a gadget case.
Or, it could simply be used to create a touch zone on a table or flat surface. Users could roll it up, place it in their bag and bring it out whenever, and wherever, they need to use a keyboard.
Paul Williamson, who is director of low power wireless products at CSR said: “This is a working prototype and a glimpse forward rather than something people will be buying this year.
“We might see lots of shapes and sizes,” he added, “some as small as iPad Mini or a larger, more rigid form for a desktop PC, which could be curved, in any colour way, transparent or fitted with a leather folio.”
At the moment, the keyboard feels just like typing on a piece of paper, although the plastic texture gives it a natural, responsive feel.
The incredibly thin device connects to a tablet, or smartphone through a low-power version of Bluetooth. This means the keyboard can pair with a device without having to carry a large battery, meaning it can take such an ultra-thin form.
Because it is made in such a way that it is basically printed off, manufacture should be relatively cheap. Battery life is expected to be around eight hours after a charge – which could be a sticking point for potential purchasers. If businesspeople wish to use it to work on the daily commute in the morning, and again on the way home, they’ll find they don’t have enough charge. But, perhaps that will be improved during the course of the year.
Also, because the keyboard has touchscreen capabilities, users are able to swipe, pinch and zoom – gestures all unavailable with normal keyboards. This should make it more appealing to large-scale manufacturers.
We’ll just have to wait and see which, if any of the big names, like Apple, Samsung or other manufacturers choose to use this new technology in their products. But, if they do, this time next year, we could be seeing an Apple iPad case with an integrated, super-thin, keyboard.
CSR says it is currently in discussions with many original equipment manufacturers who are interested in the innovative technology – so, we could see products which incorporate such a thin touch surface as early as the 2014 holiday season.