Tap is the wearable keyboard nobody asked for
It works as a mouse, too
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A couple years ago, I got to test out the (potential) future of text input. It was called the “Tap Strap,” and it was a weird foam prototype that slid up over my fingers and allowed me to painstakingly input text through taps and combo taps.
Well, now it’s shipping. It’s just called Tap now, and it looks a bit more comfortable: a series of loosely connected rings, instead of a foam block. It’s $149.99, it connects to your phone or computer over Bluetooth, it has eight hours of battery life, and it also works as a mouse now.
But what the hell is it?
Tap has sensors for each of your five fingers. When you tap them on a relatively solid surface (I used a table, but in the launch video people are typing on the chest of a significant other, laps under a table, and a business-suited arm), Tap can tell which fingers are tapping and it turns those motions into text input. A single finger tap is a vowel, and combinations of fingers create the other letters.
It’s supposed to take about an hour to learn the basics of tapping, and Tap comes with games to help the learning process.
Because of all these sensors, Tap can also judge your hand’s movement in space and therefore work as a sort of mouse or VR controller.
This might be a terrible idea. It’s too soon for me to tell. Here are a few of the negatives:
- Maybe it looks dumb.
- You lose some of the utility of your tapping hand, because now your fingers are all hooked together.
- None of your considerable effort in learning to touch type will help you with this new set of motions.
- No matter how good you get at tapping, it’s unlikely you’ll ever type as fast as ten fingers on a honest-to-goodness physical keyboard.
Here is the upside, in my estimation:
- Maybe it looks kind of cyberpunk.
- You don’t need both hands, a desk, or a laptop to type.
- If you have a wearable computer, this might be useful.
- QWERTY keyboards are an old idea, isn’t it time for a change?
My main interest in Tap is that it could fulfill my lifelong dream of operating a wearable computer with some functional level of text input. Tap might not be the right answer, ultimately, but at least it’s a fun attempt at building the future.