Anyone who has ever tried to type on an iPad can understand why TouchFire — a simple keyboard overlay that makes typing easier — has raised almost $100,000 on Kickstarter.
Instead of inserting a string of babble into your prose as usually happens when you rest your fingers on the iPad’s keyboard, TouchFire doesn’t set off a single key when you rest you fingertips on the product. Its defined keys make typing while looking away from the screen possible, and its silicon body is an improbably thin and flexible solution to a problem that is usually solved with clunky plastic add-ons.
“Everyone else, when they think about a keyboard,” says TouichFire co-founder Steven Isaac, “they try to replicate what a mechanical keyboard is.”
Isaac doesn’t come from a mechanical engineering background. He worked on an operating system for one of the first tablet-like devices in the late 80s and early 90s, helped develop Internet Explorer 1.0 and led the team that launched MSN.com. But he was inspired to build his first piece of hardware when the iPad came out.
“I thought, this is everything we dreamed of 20 years ago [when working on the tablet], but the input still sucks,” he says.
He recruited his co-founder, Brad Melmon, to help make the keyboard more than twice as thin as a credit card and easily rollable to the side of the iPad when not in use. Magnets on the keyboard’s sides snap it into place to type and snap it to the iPad case for storage.
The secret patent-pending sauce is a group of small microstructures in each key that allow fingers to rest on them at any angle without touching the iPad. When the device does finally go to market (as of now, an undefined date), Isaac expects it to retail for about $45.
Not so bad for a prototype that had its first of 49 iterations created in a garage with an exacto knife.
“This really was just two guys in a garage,” Isaac says. “And who knows, it could end up changing the world.”
In the video above, Isaac demonstrates the silicon iPad keyboard at Mashable‘s offices in New York.