Tap Keyboard & Mouse
I can’t tell you how long ago my obsession with alternative text entry devices began, but it was a long time ago. I have been obsessed with the idea that there has to be a better way to get text out of our brains and onto our devices. For a while I thought speech was the key, and while it is good for some people and good for short bits of input for me, I just don’t write as well when I try and speak my words to my devices.
I saw the Tap test input device online and loved the idea. A simple device that slides on your fingers, has great battery life, has a built in mouse and is Bluetooth compatible to any device that can accept a Bluetooth keyboard or keyboard and mouse. The price was a little steep at $200, but they have a 30-day money back guarantee, so I decided to give it a try.
There are so many things I loved about this device. From opening the case (it looks like a slim and sleek case for a pair of sunglasses) to the charging design to the feel of the device when you slide it on, so amazing. I don’t know who their industrial design team is, but if this is the only product they can point to they have a great future in product design. I can’t wait to see what else they design, this is a beautiful device.
Let me back up for a second and explain what this device is supposed to be: an alternative to using your thumbs to tap out on your screen or your fingers on a tablet, or anywhere you don’t have space for a keyboard. I don’t think they meant for it to be a replacement for your computer keyboard and if they did…they have some thinking to do still.
The design is simple enough: 5 rings (they appear to be well made silicone) that are split open on the bottom and connected to each other in a row with a short length of flexible woven cord. The cord hides the wires connecting the bits inside each ring and also help to tighten each ring. This tightening process is super simple and the little raised bits of silicone on the cord that hold the split bottoms of the rings to their proper size is brilliant and well executed. On the thumb ring there is a little glide pad to rest on a surface and a small optical mouse (more on that later).
You slip the rings on, tighten them up and then press a little button on top of the thumb ring and you fell a little buzz to let you know it turned on. If it is already paired with a device it will connect and take over as the keyboard device. You can easily turn it off and on with the button or just turn the keyboard function with the right sequence of taps.
Once connected, the magic happens. Well, it happens once you know how to type with it. This is not like typing on a normal keyboard (other than tapping your fingers). You do tap you fingers, but that is the extent of the similarities. The Tap uses a system of chording for typing. In a nutshell this means you tap a combination of 1, 2, 3, 4 or all 5 fingers together and the device interprets that as a letter (or number, punctuation, space, delete, return, etc.). OK, this sounds a lot harder than it is. They give you an app that does a great job of teaching you the chords and several more games for practicing.
That cool looking case it comes in, that’s not just a stylish holder, it’s also the charger. You plug the case in via micro-USB and it has an internal power bank that charges up. The thumb ring has two little connectors that nestle into the depression inside the holder and snap in place with magnets and you press a button on the side of the case and it changes the Tap and then turns off when it is done. I never got the device below 80% charge, so I don’t know how long you can really get out of it in real use, but they claim 8 hours of use and 7 days standby and I totally believe them.
The good news is their software is excellent and the device listens to your taps very well. There are 5 letters that for me were much more awkward to tap than the rest, but they already knew that and created alternate taps (double taps of related letters) to make those easier. I can’t stress how much thought they seem to have put into every part of this device and every process of using it. The learning curve is actually pretty quick and within a week of using their free training app about twice a day for 10 minutes a session I knew all the letters, most of my normal punctuation and a few commands (return, delete). I was not however very fast and I had to think pretty hard about my typing, but I could see how you could learn it pretty easily and it could probably become second nature with more use.
My 11 year old son wanted to try it and picked it up even faster than I did and really liked it.
Now, as much as I loved the design and wanted to keep this device, I just couldn’t find a use case scenario for me to justify keeping it. My thumbs rock on my phone and, well they are always with me. The best thing I could think of these for would be to use with VR/AR or a HUD Ike Google Glass, etc. Since I don’t have anything like that I just did not have enough use for it. It was heartbreaking to send it back, I wanted to keep it just because of how well designed and made it was.
If you have a use case scenario that this would work for and you are not afraid to put in a little time to learn something new, check it out. If you do I would love to know your thoughts and how you use it, send us an e-mail, post a comment or reach out on IG and let us know!