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Summary:

Keyboards are good for demonstrating how thin a touch-enabled device can go, but the real potential for this technology lies in wearables and other flexible applications.

CSR thin keyboard

British Bluetooth pioneer Cambridge Silicon Radio – or CSR as it is known these days – has unveiled an extremely thin flexible device that could touch-enable any surface.

The device, which is less than 0.5mm thick, is mostly intended as a demonstration of CSR’s tiny CSR1010 Bluetooth Smart chip, which will be able to connect peripherals with the latest iOS 7 and Windows 8 mobile gadgets, and other devices using the new wireless standard. Here it is, in the form of the “world’s thinnest” wireless keyboard:

And you thought Microsoft’s Touch Cover was thin.

The touch silicon here comes from Atmel, and the Conductive Inkjet Technology (CIT) provided, well, what you would expect a company with that name to provide. According to CSR, latency is under 12ms, which is good but not quite gaming-keyboard fast.

Of course, the whole point with a demonstration such as this one is to hint at future use cases – these are deep tech firms, not gadget makers. There’s the keyboard idea, and CSR suggested that the thin device could even be placed behind the pages of a paper notebook in order to pick up sketches and handwriting (with a special pen). But potential applications go far beyond that.

The greatest hope for printed electronics lies in wearable technology, and that use case probably won’t involve keyboards. If we’re talking touch-enabled surfaces overlaid on fabric, for example, chances are we will need entirely new user interfaces that make more sense in that context.

These future user experiences will be a recurring theme at our RoadMap conference, which is taking place in San Francisco on November 5th and 6th.

  1. This would be a great platform for ASETNIOP – it’s a keyboard replacement that allows for touch-typing (at speeds exceeding 100 wpm) using just ten input points. You could add the CSR sheet to the front part of a tablet cover and turn any tablet into a fully functional laptop.

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