Let’s face it our QWERTY keyboards make no sense. The design is over 150 years old and was primarily based on slowing typists down to prevent the machines from jamming. Yet today we rarely see anyone using alternative keyboard layouts or input device. Fortunately, several new innovative devices have been appearing on the market as one handed input devices primarily for smartphones and tablets, but thanks to Bluetooth they can work just as well with laptops, raspberry pi’s and custom embedded devices. Finding ways to connect ourselves to the machine world in more discrete and natural ways is what it is all about. We will focus on the TAP “keyboard / mouse” in this post. Finally we can type just by tapping our fingers on the side of our leg.
TAP is a wearable keyboard / mouse that fits over all the fingers and thumb as if it were five connected rings. It is designed as an alternative keyboard input device that works particularly well with smart phones and tablets. The makers of TAP came up with a futuristic design and has produced a fantastic training app (TapGenius on iOS) which makes the finger combinations easy to use. The downside to this device is that it is a little pricey at $179 and the keyboard input will take several hours to become familiar with it’s none QWERTY finger patterns to character mapping.
The specs on the TAP Strap make for the lightest combination of keyboard mouse available to date:
sensors: 5 3-axis accelerometers
battery life: 8 hours
case built-in battery life: 64 hours
The apps are what separate this device from other one handed alternative keyboards (yes, there are others).
TapManager – Initially provides a firmware update, sets up bluetooth pairing, provides video examples and custom key mapping. It is a nice intro.
TapGenius – This is app is so well designed you would think Apple had developed this in house. The tutorials, music, instructions and speed keep you learning the tap to character combinations at your maximum ability. An adept tapper will reach to 50 – 100 WPM.
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There is an alternative theory on how QWERTY came to be and it has little to do with slowing typists down. Rather it was designed to make Morse code translators more efficient.