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back to article Guitar-playing keys enable extremely thin keyboards

A San Francisco company wants to help laptop, tablet, and smartphone manufacturers in their seemingly insatiable desire to create thinner and thinner devices. Its solution is to replace keyboards and other physical user-interface elements with electro mechanical polymer (EMP) keys that provide localized and individualized haptic …

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Bronze badge
Childcatcher

What's the buzz?

I don't know why they want thinner, but I'm saying 'I have a solution for you'!

So basically this is a solution in search of a problem? As he said, haptics is an immature field. It will be interesting to see what pans out and what goes nowhere. The biggest problem I can see with implementing it in mobile devices is power consumption will go up dramatically as it is essentially re-introducing moving parts which burn a lot more juice than do solid state components.

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Silver badge

Re: What's the buzz?

It actually looks almost like a bimetallic strip but with a very quick response time and since it works based on electrostriction it responds to changing electric fields so it shouldn't use much more power than an equivalent capacitor. It would also be interesting to know if it also works in reverse so you could tell if it was being bent at the same time. Besides, most every real keyboard has moving parts even if it's just the rubber flexures that hold the contacts apart. Anyway, there's a video on this page for your viewing pleasure.

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JDX
Gold badge

Re: What's the buzz?

>>So basically this is a solution in search of a problem?

Not at all. He's not trying to convince people whey should want thinner units, he's providing a solution to that existing desire but doesn't really understand why it's desired. Big difference.

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Bronze badge
Childcatcher

Re: What's the buzz?

Nice video, especially the demonstration of the different things the technology can do. As for the moving parts comment, yes, this would seem to pull power from the device whereas most keyboards don't.

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Alert

Re: What's the buzz?

"Drive voltage less than 150 volts" !!!

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Silver badge

I don't know

If I dropped 500 green ones on a phone and discovered it really did have a washing machine in it, I'd be thinking 'How cool is that?' - closely followed by 'Where do the socks go in?'

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Megaphone

Wrong choice of music in demo video.

Beatles? Huh? Given the bloke's name I'd have expected the obvious choice to be Ramstein :)

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Coffee/keyboard

I'm sorry...

but the phrase 'haptic feedback' always sounds like some sort of STD to me? Also - any fule know EMP stands for Electro Magnetic Pulse!

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I don't want my phone to be thinner 8.5mm is fine for me.

I thought Microsoft have a Surface keyboard with feedback?

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Gold badge

They do, but its thicker and more expensive.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't give a shit about how thin something is. Give me some battery life and storage please.

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Silver badge

Okay Dougal, one more time:

For two devices of the same external dimensions, the one with the thinner keyboard can have a bigger battery- or room for a microSD slot.

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JDX
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Just leave him with his £289 DELL laptop, he's happy with it.

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Silver badge

He might be on to something

I love my Model M because I can feel it. When I can't feel the keys, I seem to ram my fingertips into it and my wrists and hands kill me after a day.

I tried one of those projected-on-a-surface laser keyboards... oy vey. My fingertips pretty much called a strike after 20 minutes, no matter how much I consciously tried to tap softly.

Hope he gets traction selling these things.

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Silver badge

Re: He might be on to something

>I tried one of those projected-on-a-surface laser keyboards... oy vey. My fingertips pretty much called a strike >after 20 minutes,

Superglue some marshmallows to your fingertips, problem solved. Next!

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Megaphone

Best haptic feedback there is on a "glass keyboard"

It's on the Nokia N9. If they used the regular vibration actuator, either it's a non standard part or they are able to drive it in a very different way. Somehow, I'm inclined to believe they use a special actuator for the haptics. But since it's a dead phone, nobody investigated it or knows about it enough to shame everybody else into copying the N9s haptics. For the betterment of mankind.

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JDX
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Re: Best haptic feedback there is on a "glass keyboard"

I was impressed how effective it is even on my cheap-ass Nokia Lumia 610 (WP7.5). The tiny buzz really is quite effective.

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Pint

"It somewhat ironic that the drive to extreme thinness would take guts, hmm?"

I salute you sir.

Cheers!

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Why 'thin'?

It stuff gets too thin it's harder and more uncomfortable to hold. I'd like a bit more chunky but a lot less weight in a laptop or tablet. I have a Samsung S7S (Windows 7, btw) which is a bit too thin and quite heavy. And didn't Apple come up with something like this a few years ago for the touch-screen - I seem to recall the Reg showing a patent for it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why 'thin'?

I dunno, but Brass Eye: Paedogeddon featured the dangers of haptic monitors.

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Gold badge
Coat

Who else is thinking...

"Electro Mechanical Polymers. The cutting edge of modern marital aids."

Which BTW is a multi $Bn industry.

Just saying.

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Hooraay for haptics

Now let the pron industry at it, haptic feedback invisible fingers for all!

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Anonymous Coward

Any old bollox to sell

"To Ramstein, though, even mere vibration is a vast improvement over, say, the Microsoft Surface keyboard, which just lies there pretty but inert. "Lovely, but I don't feel anything," he said of Redmond's inability to thrill his fingertips."

WOW I can smell that from here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Any old bollox to sell

Have you ever tried making a positive comment about anything? It's a new year, give it a go.

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