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5 Futuristic Keyboards Could Power Your Next Device

Daniel Bean
Assistant Editor
Yahoo Tech

Getting a grip on all the newfangled ways you can type on a mobile device is no easy task. Gesture, swipe, hunt-and-peck — who knows what will be next?

If you’re looking to sound smart or to keep your head above water on the topic of crazy keyboard concepts, then you’ve come to the right article. Here are several slightly askew ideas and products that may one day become the new way you type on your device.   

1. TrewGrip

TrewGrip is a handheld keyboard that places your keys on the back of your gadget. You have two options: You can either strap your smartphone to the front of this thing (front and back of the TrewGrip pictured below) or you can use the keyboard remotely to control devices on a desktop, connecting via Bluetooth. A light-up QWERTY indicator pad that shows which key is being pressed sits on the front of the TrewGrip to make using the underside keyboard even easier.

The ergonomically crafted keyboard also has a gyroscope motion sensor, which can be used to control a mouse pointer. Couple that with the front-side control and navigation buttons, and the TrewGrip keyboard becomes a full-on controller.

The TrewGrip team expects to begin shipping the keyboard to consumers in the second half of 2014 for a price of $250. Check out a video of a typing challenge contestant kicking butt with the TrewGrip below.

2. Minuum

The Minuum software keyboard forgoes the screen-stealing QWERTY layout for a single-line of characters. But don’t worry about accuracy: Sort of like the old T9 texting system used on numeric flip-phone keypads, you can mash away in the ballpark of what you’re trying to type, and the keyboard will smartly translate your gibberish to lucid text.

So far, Minuum is available only as an Android beta app in the Play Store ($1.99), but the company’s ambitions for the future are sky-high, with wearable tech like smartwatches in its crosshairs. Below is a video showing what the creators of Minuum have in mind, featuring a smartwatch keyboard, as well as a couple of forms of wearable gesture typing.

3. Gauntlet

How about typing without any keys at all? This is the idea behind Gauntlet, the wireless keyboard glove. With this gadget, “typing” is done via one-handed finger gestures (nothing too rude, don’t worry).

(Image: gizmag.com)

The Gauntlet campaign began more than two years ago. The latest version of the glove features letter keys on different segments of each finger, triggered by thumb touches. A built-in accelerometer makes it so that ninja-like swiping gestures can be programmed to perform functions — to erase text, for example.

The glove connects to devices via Bluetooth in the same way a standard keyboard does. So anything from a desktop computer to a smartphone would be compatible.

Though things have recently been quiet out of this college-project-turned-startup, there’s no way this won’t become a thing, right? A ninja-chopping keyboard — why not?

4. Grippity

Along the same lines as TrewGrip, Grippity puts your keyboard on the back of a device. The difference with the Grippity tablet (a current Kickstarter campaign) is that it’s a dual-sided touchscreen that you’ll be mashing.

Grippity’s makers have engineered the tablet with 10-finger typing in mind, hinging on the ability to touch the front and rear of the screen simultaneously. What’s more, the transparent display allows users to view both their fingers tapping from the reverse side and the complete screen from the front. So it can come in handy for activities like pinch-to-zoom — in other words, more than just typing.

The state of the project is unknown at this point, as the Grippity missed its funding goal by tens of thousands of dollars. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Grippity won’t be coming to a store near you at some point. You can sign up for more information about the Grippity here.

5. Tactus

Like something out of science fiction, the Tactus keyboard creates touchscreen buttons you can actually feel. They “morph” right out of your display when you need them and then disappear when you don’t. Yeah, wild.(Image: Business Insider)

First showcased at last year’s Consumer Electronics Show, this setup requires more than just a clip-on case or attachment, as you may have guessed. Instead, a couple of Tactus elements that sit above the device display will need to be specially installed. The company also has plans to partner with manufacturers to deliver Tactus built in on some devices.

The buttons are raised and depressed by the filling of micro-fluid channels embedded in the Tactus panel. In addition to the unique (black magic) hardware, Tactus is developer-friendly, so all types of onscreen keyboards, as well as controls for games, should be able to make use of the Tactus buttons.

Tactus said we can expect to see the first consumer version of its keyboard hardware sometime this year. We hope it’s sooner rather than later, because this feels like a winner to us.

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