By David Novak, The GadgetGUY
TouchFire is the latest in new gadgets, an iPad attachment that will make typing on the iPad feel like a true physical QWERTY keyboard. It fits over the top of the landscape keyboard on either the iPad or the iPad 2, and allows your typing to fly with speeds you’d only get from a traditional keyboard.
The TouchFire is made of a flexible silicone that has a number of micro-structures inserted. What these do is allow you to rest your fingers on the screen without the worry of accidentally pushing a key. When you push a key intentionally, you get the feeling that you are typing on a real keyboard.
TouchFire’s co-founders, Steve Isaac and Brad Melon, have been passionate about computing for years. Steve has been in the mobile computing industry since the early 90s. He started his Silicon Valley career in the early days of Sun Microsystems, where he made Sun’s NFS an industry standard. He then became one of the first employees at GO Corp, which built one of the world’s first tablet computers and a mobile operating system called PenPoint. Unfortunately, GO didn’t survive. Steve then went to Microsoft, where he did a number of 1.0 products – Windows CE, Internet Explorer, MSN.com, Active Server Pages and ASP.NET.
But over the years Steve felt that he had unfinished business in the tablet space. When the iPad first came out, he was amazed at how spectacular it was in every way. Well, almost every way. Typing on the iPad was certainly much better than anything that had come before, but it still wasn’t great.
Steve had visions that the act of typing on a tablet could be easier than it is now. So Steve started thinking about a way to add the missing tactile features needed to have a true high performance typing experience on the iPad. He developed a viability prototype that demonstrated the concept.
Steve then asked Brad to join the team. Brad is a brilliant product designer and mechanical engineer. Brad needed to provide the right sort of force resistance for typing to feel really good, and at the same time make the device be thin, lightweight and flexible enough to basically disappear in the cover when not in use. After working on this for a year, Brad had a design breakthrough that met all of these requirements, and TouchFire is the result. TouchFire is the first product in an entirely new category of tablet accessories – Screen-Top Keyboards.
“TouchFire was one of the most challenging design problems Brad has ever tackled. On one hand, TouchFire had to be thin, light and flexible enough to live in the iPad’s cover. On the other hand, TouchFire’s keys had to provide the proper force resistance to allow people to rest their fingers and type naturally. Brad figured out how to do this by inserting a series of micro-structures inside each key. You can’t feel these micro-structures, but they contain carefully designed walls that provide the proper force resistance no matter how your finger strikes a key.”
The team behind TouchFire are looking to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter to get the project up and running. You can see the full pricing details and a video over on the Kickstarter site.
David Novak is an internationally syndicated columnist. His column, the GadgetGUY, appears in over 120 newspapers around the world each week, enjoying over 3 million in readership. He's also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, PC Magazine, Popular Science, Newsweek, GQ, and more. The GadgetGUY has his pulse on everything related to new gadgets, computers, camcorders, car tech, cameras, gaming, TVs, computers, wireless devices, media devices, cell phones, home appliances, wearable technology, sports science, power tools and gadget news.