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A Touchpad Embedded Keyboard (mokibo.com)
205 points by sahin-boydas 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 113 comments

BlackBerry has been doing this with the keyboards on their phones for some time now


Was going to mention similar - that video is of the Passport, which uses their OS, but I use a KEYone, an Android-powered BlackBerry with one of these keyboards. Soooo much nicer than software keyboards, it was the single thing that made me choose it over all the others available.

And it works brilliantly, easily my favorite feature on this phone (key2). Thinking about it this phone is my favorite since the iPhone 3g

Came here to say the same thing. I used the KeyOne and now the Key2 and I can't imagine going back to software keyboards.

Did you notice any improvement on this in the Key2?

I have the KeyOne and while I love the feature and it works somewhere between OK and excellent, I have trouble correctly using the typing-oriented gestures (auto complete, delete word). I end up avoiding them because I just can't make them work with near 100% accuracy (accuracy being one of the main points of a physical keyboard to me).

Built a keyboard like this 10 years ago. Always wondered when it would be launched as a product. :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltNSCOzxbvY

In case the soon-to-be-product Tactual keyboard[1] doesn't work out, I wonder...

Imagine you already have optical tracking available for XY finger position. So all you want from the keyboard is sensitive "is the finger near xy really touching?" bits. Without compromising the expert typing experience (eg FlickBoard). Any thoughts on nice ways to approach this?

Spray every keycap with 4 conductive pads, and run 400+ wires... :/

[1] https://vimeo.com/258421095

What touch pads use and also we did is capacitive sensors, but they don't really measure if something touches normally, they just give a high response if you are very close. Touchpads are covered by a insulating film. But, if you already know the x,y position then one option could potentially be to make the keys of a conductive plastic and measure the change in capacitance when they get touched. You just need "one" wire that goes to every key. Treat all keys as one sensor.

With optical tracking, one can, for example, have all fingers resting on home row, with one finger tapping. But it's hard to distinguish actually touching from merely being near the surface, so one exaggerates the taps to rise above tracking noise. Which is sort of ok for taps, but is a pretty bad user experience for say finger-stroking scrolling.

So the objective is to have per-finger high-quality is-it-touching-or-not-quite touch determination, on a good keyboard. Perhaps made easier by having high-quality XY position available from the optical tracking.

A keyboard where every keycap was a multitouch touchpad would work... but seems problematic.

Monotouch pads are more feasible, but imagine home row fingers now shifted half a key to the left, so finger tips touch multiple keys, and keys are touched by multiple fingers. Now detect tapping, when the tapped key remains continuously touched, and the tapping finger may be in contact with other adjacent fingers.

One could wire together all keys, if say you have finger-tip electrodes. And wired fingers have the bonus of providing good touch determination for finger-finger contact, instead of just finger-key. But the pragmatics of electrodes on skin are messy, and gloves badly sacrifice typing experience.

Ah well. Thanks. Perhaps the Tactual PRISM keyboard will work out.

Looks this would be perfect as a "sofa keyboard" for controlling a home media center or similar. I guess that the main difficulty would be not pressing the keys while using it as a touchpad, but I imagine it would be possible to get used to that.

This makes a lot of sense for a use-case.

Their proposed use-case of e.g. phones and tablets (see: already touch-enabled devices) makes me wonder... why use an inferior touchpad on a keyboard when you could just reach up and touch the screen to begin with? Especially with the things they're demoing: moving your cursor to click on something (just tap it) or scrolling (just... scroll normally?). I use a laptop with a "real" touchpad and still prefer just reaching out and touching the screen for most of these tasks already; if I'm not going to use a real touchpad for these kinds of things, why would I use a worse version built into a keyboard (which also probably prevents the keyboard from being as good of a keyboard)?

Using this for a non-touch device or from longer distances (like from your couch) makes so much more sense... especially when you consider how awful mice (and separate touchpads) are on e.g. couches.

A lot of people don't want to take the time and/or lose the flow due to shifting the hands away from the keyboard and in particular orientation with the home row.

The laptop approach of the touchpad close to and rigidly coupled to the keyboard is a big improvement as you can move thumbs from the spacebar and back without looking. This is why I use the internal keyboard even when an external keyboard would be otherwise convenient.

This device could be a way to reduce even that friction. Though I think we're better off encouraging people to make sure their apps can be completely controlled from the keyboard (unless of course the app really is appropriate for a pointing device, such as some photo editing).

> A lot of people don't want to take the time and/or lose the flow due to shifting the hands away from the keyboard and in particular orientation with the home row.

TrackPoint. You want a TrackPoint.

I liked the idea but it never exhibited the dynamic performance (accelleration-to-distance/decelleration-to-precision) of a trackpad which is why I think it faded away, even at IBM.

>which is why I think it faded away You do realise trackpoints still exist on all new thinkpads and some Dell and HP laptops? the reason they never became popular is that they are ont easy to master as soon as you first use them. the muscle patterns take a fair bit of getting used to before you get out of the awkward stage. However once you do they are as precise (if not more so) than touchpads with out having to move you hands into an entirely new position (much like this touchpad keyboard) however I think for this new keyboard to be effective, the activation force on the keys is going to need to be too high to resist accidental keypresses while using as a touchpad. I think I'll stick with the trackpoint thanks.

This keyboard reminds me a lot pf my Tex Yoda II. Check ot out if you like TrackPoints.

I'm dreaming of a keyboard where the touchpad would be placed in the middle between the two halves for left and right hand. Because arms aren't growing in front of people's bodies (as e.g. Kinesis well know). Still waiting for which manufacturer has this idea first.

But the thing in the post might be a better solution if both the keyboard and the touchpad work well. A great illustration of the classic principle: good design compromises in a contradiction, clever design eliminates the contradiction.

There's split keyboards that have a trackball in the middle, like the Ultimate Hacker Keyboard[0]. There's also the KeyMouse[1], which is two wireless mice with split mechanical keyboards built into them

[0]https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/ [1]https://ultimatehackingkeyboard.com/

One problem with using the screen of a tablet (when you are using it with a physical keyboard) is you have nothing to stabilize your hand on. I tend to miss things when using my Chromebook touch screen because my hand is a tad shaky when holding it in the air to touch the screen. On the trackpad (or keyboard), my hands or wrists tend to rest on the table surface.

Not sure how it’s any better than the Logitech K400 or the Microsoft All in One keyboard, especially since those don’t need any special software support so can work with your Android TV, Apple TV, HTPC and essentially any other device that supports USB HID, and those cost only like $20-30 I don’t see this thing being sold for less than $150-200.

I have only owned the Logitech K400 before and its touchpad is rubbish. I threw it out because it was so frustrating to use. Lots of accidental taps when just trying to move the mouse pointer and issues like that.

Is the Microsoft All In One any better?

"Is the Microsoft All In One any better?"

Its even worst in my experience... both are trash. I reverted to a regular wireless keyboard & trackball for sofa use.

I'm using the Logitech K830. I don't have many issues with the trackpad on that model. It's not great, like your average Windows laptop's trackpad, but I nowhere near throwing it out cause it's so bad.

> Not sure how it’s any better...

this looks like it's half the size of those two... so that's at least somewhat better.

Not really since there is little chance for this to work well without additional software which likely would limit its functionality, also it doesn’t seem to matter that much for a couch keyboard and if you want smaller there are smaller keyboards.

Why? If it's done in any sensible way, it should simply show up as a HID device and work pretty much everywhere.

Because these types of trackpads need special drivers these days e.g. windows precision drivers.

Even basic things like palm rejection is done in software and for this one to switch between keyboard and trackpad in the fly you’ll need very good software that can predict just what you were intending to do.

Most "windows precision" touchpads are handled in Linux with just one module. Even Apple's Magic Trackpad can show up in system as a regular mouse (although with limited functionality).

Palm rejection is a thing that kinda makes sense to handle in software. For this thing, I'd expect firmware to be actually a bit beefer than usual.

Partly because you don't have to move your hands from typing position. And partly because it is smaller.

> Not sure how it’s any better...

Because better is subjective.

Not having tactile feedback seems annoying given that most home media center controlling happens with the lights turned off.

I don't get it. The "keep your fingers on the keyboard and use the mouse" thing has been solved ages ago with the trackpoint [1]. It's the number one reason for me not to buy a MacBook.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pointing_stick

Figuring out how to disable that damn thing was my top priority when I had a thinkpad. Maybe I should have stuck with it, but it was just an annoying thing that was impossible to control and easily knocked to where I didn't want it to be (a problem when input focus is mouse based rather than foreground app based).

So this looks interesting to me... but possibly suffers from the same problem of inadvertent activation.

there's definitely a steeper muscle learning curve with a trackpoint but once you get past it they are fantastic to use. I find accuracy higher and less of a jarring transition from typing to mousing. if you get one again, I suggest persevering (it took trying to play populous 3 on my dad's laptop Back in the day to convince me that a trackpoint was the way forward. I pushed through the mental barrier and found that P3 was an order of magnitude easier to play on a trackpoint than a touchpad) since then i've been a convert and actively stipulated that my last laptop HAVE a trackpoint. So I bought a thinkpad after having/hating a macbook for a while.

It is the other way around for me, I always disable the track pad, as I else will randomly move the cursor while typing, which is really annoying.

Yeah, I have tweaked the settings on them before; they generally have a sort of palm detection that prevents them from misfiring which works pretty well for me - only in one case have I ever had to adjust a laptop for that.

It's nice to see a differing point of view. For me, Trackpoints are the number one reason I don't buy Thinkpads. I cannot stand those things. Trackpads, especially those on Mac products, have a lot more functionality.

I don't like them either, but they absolutely don't get in a way of normal keyboard use.

Couldn’t you just remove it?

Not OP, but I've felt that Thinkpads all have terrible (and even sometimes nonexistent) trackpads which force the user to use the nub. I'm wayyy more efficient with a decent (usually Mac, but I've occasionally had good experiences on other laptops too) trackpad than a bad trackpad, nub, or even mouse sometimes (it takes time to move my hand between the mouse and keyboard, which is negligible on a laptop with trackpad).

If you remove the rubber nub, you still have a little plastic joystick poking out of the center of your keyboard. Also, the trackpads on Thinkpads are pretty worthless when compared to offerings by other manufacturers.

They certainly used to be pretty worthless, but some two years ago Lenovo seems to have realised that. Being firmly on team trackpoint, I don’t use it personally, but my X1 Carbon (2017) has a nice feeling large trackpad that I’ve heard many good things about.

i think it was actually microsoft that started pushing OEMs towards better touchpads with it's surface touchpad certification program. any laptop with those is pretty comparable to a mac touchpad...

I got a mechanical keyboard without a trackpoint after requiring one for many years. I was worried about using a trackpad or mouse, but I tried out mousekeys and am very happy with the result.

Just got started using mousekeys thanks to your comment, and I like 'em thus far. I can't do as precise of movements as I can with a mouse yet, but it is nice to not have to switch to the mouse, and it doesn't hurt my wrist as much to use.

The trackpoint on my x220 was very convenient, but it really hurt my fingers.

You need to edit the sensitivity, on Linux this is done with synclient. The defaults can be ridiculous and absurdly bad. They quite arguably aren't right for anyone on the planet... Don't know why it ships like that (baseline usability shouldn't necessitate customization).

Also there's different concavity nibbles and people have very religious-like preferences for one style over another so I won't disclose my persuasion ... There's really really cheap variety packs to find out yours (like < $3 shipped)

> need to edit the sensitivity, on Linux this is done with synclient

Default TrackPoint handling is now libinput (as of 2017?)

And regrettably, this regressed acceleration profile editing on older TrackPoint hardware. Apparently it was diverse and buggy, and libinput developer resources are limited, so older ThinkPads may need to update their firmware, or are simply wontfix.

When your TrackPoint has a good acceleration profile, it can be magical. When not, it feels like you're fighting the stick, and stressing your finger. I have one of each, so going back on forth, I get both "oh, wow, this is awesome!" and "yipes, this awful".

TrackPoint seems an odd case. Laptop hardware not working on linux is a familiar thing. But unless you know what you're missing, you may not recognize a severely-suboptimally configured TrackPoint. And without customization, your default TrackPoint experience can be really bad.

I have a ThinkPad bluetooth keyboard[0] for this reason. I don't use a mouse anymore - the trackpoint is super convenient when programming.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/ThinkPad-Compact-Bluetooth-Keyboard-T...


A while ago when I was doing a lot of VR I wanted something like this so I could see where my hands were touching the keyboard while wearing a VR headset. Hand trackers aren't precise enough for that, and video passthrough also isn't great for various reasons. Add a Vive tracker to this and you could potentially use it fairly naturally in VR.

Sounds like touch typing is for you. It's even called “blind typing” in some languages.

I am a touch typist. But not for every key on the keyboard. But more importantly, touch typing doesn't help you position your hands when moving them from something else to the keyboard.

> touch typing doesn't help you position your hands when moving them from something else to the keyboard.

I thought that's what the bumps on the f and j keys were for.

They are rather small and take a bit of work to find when you are blind.

I have this problem on ‘j’ but not on ‘f’―the comparison lead me to the thought that I really should glue a grain of plastic on the ‘j’. We here are supposed to be hackers and to do-it-ourselves, after all.

The same can be done to other keys, I think―if you have the unfortunate configuration of an unsplit F-row, for example.

They are not sure whether there are 80 or 90 sensors in the keyboard. The video says 90, the descriptive text says 80 :')

Other than that, it looks like a nice keyboard. I wonder if mouse activity and keyboard activity conflict with each other, that your mouse starts moving while you only wanted to type or something...

I want one for my HTPC, if it turns out to be a good one. :-)

I have two mice on my workstation. At least in Windows it just accumulates the movement. E.g. move left left, right right about the same amount and you'll have the cursor just moving around a little bit but staying mostly in place.

Sounds a lot like fingerworks who had a similar product on the market I think about 14years ago or so. As I remember it they got snatched up by Apple and ditched the product. I always wished they’d release a slightly better touchpad tech version of it, at a more reasonable price point.

I believe apple got them just for the multitouch: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/FingerWorks

What's the point with using this thing?

Does anybody here use keynav?

I have been a ThinkPad user all my life but the trackpoint hurt my fingers (like another commented here)

Mouse and trackpad need a switch.

I like keynav but its slow and I'm wondering if with prqctise I will actually get somewhere or will forever remain slow?

I love the TrackPoint, but finally I too am noticing a strain in my index finger.

I am hoping to take things to the next level.

Currently am looking at wiring a game controller-style thumb joystick to a Contra keyboard.

Configuring your acceleration profile can be the difference between awful and wonderful. On linux, the default experience can be poor. And some older TrackPoint hardware is now less well supported than it once was.

I used to have a keyboard back in 2005 that was made by a company called FingerWorks. The keyboard came in two halves and used virtual keys and gestures. You could get it with either Qwerty or Dvorak layouts printed on the smooth surface. They also made a replacement keyboard that you could install in MacBook Pros. Apple acquired the company in 2005 and used the technology in its products.

I really liked my FingerWorks keyboard, but it kind of died out for me once FingerWorks stopped producing firmware updates for it. I don't know how well this keyboard works, but I'd be happy with it if it worked at least as well as my FingerWorks keyboard did.

Flat keycaps means it's not really suitable for any prolonged used. The newish mac keyboards solve the key homing problem with large gaps between keys, but it's still not great experience.

Anyone else notice the copyright on the web site is 2012? Presumably just a bad copy-and-paste, but weird nonetheless.

> copyright on the web site is 2012?

Given the many abandoned companies in HID space, I checked... Wayback Machine has the web site as new in 2019.

I saw that too and wondered the same thing. Still a real company?

Didn't TouchStream buy up all this IP in multiple ways then get bought by Apple?

I still have a functional touchstream and it's a fantastic device. The drivers even still sort work on Linux.

I thought FingerWorks did their own R&D.

I thought they did their own patents ;)

For proximity and 3D, there's also the not-yet-released Tactual PRISM keyboard[1] with depth sensing.

And optical tracking.[2] Though that last millimeter of "is it actually touching or not quite" is hard to do without hardware support from the keyboard.

[1] https://vimeo.com/258421095 http://www.tactuallabs.com/ [2] https://frl.nyu.edu/multi-touch-with-realsense-camera/

That would drive me absolutely and completely insane.

I didn't see a price anywhere. Did I miss it? How much do they plan to sell these for?

why is signup for preorder so detailed about the user? it even requires phone number. Most of the questions were so sketchy I gave up and didnt sign up. Would not be surprised if all that data ends up in wrong hands and will be used for phishing.

Because it's a Korean company.

It's far less common to use email to contact a customer in Korea. As you can see email is not even a required field in the sign-up page. The customers prefer to receive notifications via SMS (or Kakaotalk nowadays) then email. Actually email is almost meaningless in Korea for contacting method to consumers.

If the company send official release news to sing-up customers on email only, they might complain that the company contact them on email for such an important announcement.

Email is the least serious communication channel in Korea. Even in Business-to-Business situations email is usually used for sending files, not for communications.

Thanks for this interesting insight into Korean culture & customs.

No problem :) Because of these cultures Koreans often have worst email habits for the western standards. Most of them don't know what CC and BCC are.

The noticeable one is they often have worst email names such as cute_girl90@company.com and they use it in business. So don't suprise if you get a wired email name from Koreans.

I think it would bother me having the click buttons separate from the 'touchpad', but a cool concept none the less.

Can anyone see how you switch between keyboard and touchpad mode? Or does it guess based on gestures? I tried to find it in the user manual, but it appears to only be in Korean.

As a side note, I am perplexed by the:

> Mokibo saves 60% of mode chnage between keyboard and touchpad which are 50-100 hours in a year.

Does really that (or keyboard/mouse change) amount to 50-100 hours in a year?

The challenge here is that what makes a great touchpad (unbroken surface) is the opposite of the keyboards I like (gaps between keys). I’m interested to try this to see if they’ve cracked that nut.

I would probably try this if the price point is reasonable.

Years ago I had a machine aluminum frame that held a wireless mac desktop keyboard and associated mouse together as a single unit and allowed typing and touchpading on the desktop just like a laptop. I found this to be much better than a touchpad to either side of the keyboard and especially much better than a touchpad to the right of a 104-key sized keyboard. Would love to have that again.

I was half expecting them send me a DNA sample collection kit with those intrusive questions, they ask for all but your astrological sign and favorite color....

If all that’s being sensed is touched(A) or touched(SPACEBAR) with no x,y reporting, I can’t imagine the experience would be good enough to please a MacBook trackpad user. I can see the low-rez touch sensing being ok for gestures, but a poor substitute for real multitouch experience.

For example, the pinch-to-zoom demo looks janky compared to two-finger pinch on an actual MacBook trackpad.

Look at the video at the bottom of the page (say, at 27 seconds in) -- it is very clear that it has higher resolution than just which key you are touching.

It says there are 80 touch sensors, but presumably each sensor is like a mini track pad, not just an "on or off".

The pinch-to-zoom demo looks that way due to them using it in chrome, which is janky by design as it zooms in discrete steps. Later in the video they show some more granular controls such as rotation of objects and it looks quite responsive to me.

We probably have to wait for some more hands-on videos, but the product itself looks promising.

Agreed. Seems like it would either be awfully complex (and expensive), or a jarring experience compared to most trackpads.

If you're a trackpoint user, Lenovo's usb/bluetooth thinkpad keyboard offers the same kb+mouse combo in a similar form factor.

This reminds me of the Noahpad, one of the sillier ideas to come out of the Great Netbook Craze of the late 2000s. That thing looked like an ergonomic nightmare and RSI waiting to happen.


I'm not sure what to make of this. On the surface, it does sounds like a great idea! But I'm not sure if the touch bits would work in a satisfactory manner. The touch surface discontinuity bothers me. Regardless, I hope they produce a great product as I can see myself using it to control my home setup.

I can see this working for me. And it would be highly efficient and ergonomic. Would definitely like to try it.

For touch typists, this is definitely not ergonomic.

If only it were multitouch, then it'd be ideal for the 10gui concept: http://10gui.com/

But... I hate laptop-style keyboards and can't see myself moving back after switching to mechanical keyboards, if I can at all help it.

It is multitouch. They demonstrate two fingered scrolling and pinch to zoom.

I suppose I should have been more specific and said ten-finger multitouch.

I normally use a Microsoft natural keyboard and I lay a magic TouchPad over the numpad/home/end button area.

This way it's ergonomic and productive, as I never move my hands. Seems like a better solution, to me, than passing your fingers through the bumpy keys "islands"...

I'd like to try it. I could imagine getting used to it quickly.

People seem to be confused as to whether the resolution is one unit per key, or if there is a grid on each key. Clearly, based on the video, it is much higher than one unit of resolution per key.

Which could still be implemented as a single sensor per key + interpolation. I which case it really depends how good the software is in edge cases. Like two fingers close together in untypical location.

Noting enough machine learning cannot solve :)

At least one manufacturer will use this to make a 21:9 notebook.

Kind of like the HP Jornada!

I wonder if this is Windows Precision Touchpad compatible? As far as I can tell, there are not many options for precision touchpads that are not in a laptop

so when the switches fail you gotta plug in a mouse anyways. switches fail on an average of one every 5 years in my experience(shorter if you're using one of the chinese clones like kailh instead of cherry since they don't have as good QC in my experience)

These guys haven't mentioned switches so i guess they're using cheaper variants to cut down costs. something to be aware of...

The arrow keys. Ugh. That set-up - left and right keys same size as normal keys - I could never get used to it on the new macbook keyboards

I dunno, I think I've used a MacBook that had that type of layout. Either that or it was another notebook. That layout is pretty common.

I don’t get this. You must feel the “bumps” from key edges in touchpad mode, right?

If so, it’s terrible as a trackpad.

Tap to Click on this would be amazing

Clicking is hands-down the hardest problem with this type of device. Their hardware mouse button placement is not ergonomic; the user in their video has to use a separate hand just to click!

• If you allow tap-to-click, users are likely to trigger false positives from resting on the keys

• If you allow press-to-click, users will be unable to click in many positions (e.g. the intersection of 3 keys)

You could even do click to tap :)

(Which I would to appreciate, as both clicking and tapping has never been the most reliable for me on touchpads.., but a keyboard click? Always reliable, and always responsive)

For some occasions i think i'd prefer a keyboard embedded touchpad

A bad keyboard and a bad touchpad

They were so worried about whether they could they didn't stop to think whether they should.

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