The trusty QWERTY keyboard has been around for almost 150 years. We’re used to the layout and we’re used to our keyboards being physical, so we’re naturally sceptical if someone claims they’re going to change both. However, an upcoming wearable called Tap has us intrigued.
Tap is a one-handed device that lets you type anywhere. You can fire out a text message on your table, your lap, or even the handlebar of your bike. Why? The creators feel that Tap is a keyboard killer because we’re moving into a world with more devices that cannot use physical keyboards for data entry such as wearables and virtual reality headsets. It uses Bluetooth so will work with your phone, computer, smart TV, or PS4.
So how does it work? Tap is a flexible strap you push your fingers through like a glove. When you tap any object, the strap sends a character to the device it’s paired with. When we first saw Tap we thought it relied on a touch-typing principle and still used a QWERTY keyboard. It seemed like a horrible idea and we could just imagine the nonsensical strings of typos that would result. Actually, it’s something new. The downside is that you need to learn to type all over again but it does sound quite fun.
Each finger represents a vowel. Tapping your thumb would send an “a” to the paired device. The consonants are created by combinations of taps. There’s an app to help you learn how to type but we don’t think it will be too difficult. It takes little time to learn sign language alphabets or hiragana so it shouldn’t take long to become confident with Tap’s combinations. Here’s Tap in action:
Use cases from their video include typing in secret at work or in silence to avoid waking up a partner. What the video doesn’t make so clear is how great this could be for the visually impaired. We love tech that improves accessibility and we’re interested to see how Tap could help since it’s an entirely tactile input method. With a little modification Tap could also be used to play music or control videogames.
We can’t see Tap becoming mainstream for getting work done at your computer. If people are going to switch from the QWERTY keyboard, it’s going to take something revolutionary. However, Tap could improve data input for wearables and virtual reality headsets where there is no physical keyboard or your vision is obstructed. Of all the alternatives we’ve seen, Tap looks the most interesting and we do want to learn all those tap combinations.
Tap just launched as a small beta in San Francisco but should launch commercially by the end of the year.
Main image: Tap Systems, Inc.