While it’s possible to navigate modern PC operating systems using nothing but a keyboard, there are a lot of things that are easier to do if you have a mouse or touchpad. But those can take up valuable space and require moving your hand away from the keyboard.
Lenovo offers another approach by putting its TrackPoint nub in the center of the keyboard. But that solution has a rather steep learning curve.
Innopresso’s Mokibo keyboard offers a different option. It’s a Bluetooth keyboard with a giant touchpad built in.
Just move your fingers across the top of the keys to scroll, click, rotate, pinch to zoom, or perform other actions. There are two small buttons below the keys which you can also use for right-click and left-click actions.
The Mokibo has 80 touch sensors integrated into the keyboard, and an island-style layout with flat key caps separated by small spaces, making it relatively easy to slide your finger from key to key. A demo video also shows that you can perform some precise actions by just moving your finger along a single key. But multi-finger actions such as two-finger scrolling or pinch-to-zoom will require touching a few keys at once.
The keyboard is said to support Windows 7 or later, MacOS 9 or later, iOS 8 or later, and Android 4.3 or later. It supports Bluetooth 4.2 and NFC, has a micro USB charger, and features a rechargeable battery.
This isn’t the first touchpad-embedded-in-a-keyboard we’ve seen. BlackBerry, for example, has been using a similar solution for smartphones including the BlackBerry Passport, Priv and Key2. But this strategy is a lot less common in laptop/desktop keyboards.
Lenovo, on the other hand, took a kind of opposite approach with its Yoga Book line of laptops. Instead of a keyboard with an integrated touchscreen, the Lenovo Yoga Book and Yoga Book C930 feature two touchscreen displays, including one which can display a virtual keyboard that you can use to type — but that solution means you don’t really feel the keys move as you press them, which can make typing difficult to get the hang of.
There’s no word on how much the Mokibo keyboard will cost or when it will be available. But you can sign up to be notified when the device becomes available.
via Hacker News
it is now on indiegogo. https://igg.me/at/mokibo
GPD should definitely look into using this type of tech for all their UMPC product lines. It’ll be especially appreciated in the Win line as then we won’t have to repeatedly switch between gamepad mode and mouse mode.
If it works well can we please have devices in the style of the Psion devices or Viao P this could actually be really cool for something like that.
I see this idea being most useful on handheld devices like the Blackberry examples mentioned that already have it. It’d be nice if the F(x)tec Android QWERTY slider had this as well. Maybe even the GPD MicroPC could benefit from it.
For devices that are large already, I feel a touchpad isn’t much more extra space.
Also, how’s the user’s intent managed? Is it a button/switch or some fancy SW algorithm?
Neat concept, but I have my reservations about this keyboard. I very much dislike keyboards with flat (no contour or sculpture) chiclet keys. I also very much dislike keys with small gaps between the keys. Any effort to increase the key size (and lessen the gap) makes a keyboard less usable.
I touch-type, and I make lots of typing errors when I use flat chiclet keys.
I’m also concerned about accidentally making mouse-movements when I type. I often rest my fingertips on the surface of the keys between typing bursts. It helps me orient myself and increase typing accuracy. I’m not going to give that up.
I wouldn’t consider using this keyboard anyways. I only use mechanical keyboards. My employer forces me to use a Macbook, and I bring a mechanical keyboard to work because the Macbook keyboard is absolute shit.
This is one of those things that sound great as an idea and you wonder why nobody made it before. Then you realise that you rest your fingers on the keys when not typing. I wonder if it has some great algorithm to detect when to move the mouse pointer or maybe you could limit the touch area to the lower half of the keyboard where you don’t rest your fingers. Ultimately the IBM solution with the Ultranav is a better approach in my opinion, but then again I’ve been using IBM keyboards for a very long time and got used to the nub whereas I’ve never used this thing before.
Yeah, the Trackpoint is a hard habit to break. I’m typing this on an external Thinkpad keyboard, old seven row layout (the best), heavily worn keys (somehow I gouge grooves into the keytops with my fingernails!) and it’s literally held together with a bull clip to keep frayed wires and a loose connection together.
Fortunately a good friend of mine gave me two even older external Thinkpad keyboards (pre-Windows key!) in immaculate condition, one with a number pad. They’re both in immaculate condition and work with Windows 10, so I should be set for life!
“has a micro USB charger”
How are we ever going to move over to USB-C when brand new products still come out with micro?
I build my own custom mechanical keyboards, and design the PCBs for them, and I started using USB-C on my keyboards a while ago.
I like the idea, but I know that my fingers slide around lots while I type. I wonder how they detect which mode to be in.
Depends. On my BB Passport, I never had any issues with it during typing, but I can’t say the same for my BB KEY2. So it very much depends on how Mokibo has implemented it.
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