A new crowdfunding campaign is looking to change how we interact with our PCs and other smart devices, providing users with an all-in-one solution that combines keyboard and mouse. The peripheral, known as the Nydeum Sense, lets users trace out letters on a contoured touch surface, while providing a more conventional touch experience on its second side.
Central to the new product is what the company calls "digital alphabet." One side of the small peripheral is dedicated to typing, with segmented touch section that users trace different shapes over to produce letters.
It's designed to be easy to learn, with each letter in the digital alphabet consisting of part of its usual form (see below), traced out on a tactile and quickly familiar grooved surface. According to the product's creators, with a little practice it's possible to type at speeds of up to three characters a second.
The other side of the device is a more conventional touch surface, with left and right clicks in the appropriate places, and a band for scrolling in the center. You simply flip the device over to switch to mouse mode, and use the touch surface to zip the cursor around.
The team has been working on the device for quite a while, with the first prototype being completed back in 2010. At that stage, it used an input method similar to morse code, but the designers quickly realised that the solution was too complicated for everyday users.
The digital alphabet system the team went on to develop is pretty versatile, reportedly working with numerous languages, including Japanese, Chinese, Arabic and Hebrew. Users can also program their own commands into the device, assigning certain tasks – like opening a particular webpage – to a combination of swipes and tilts of the device.
The peripheral is designed to work with all electronic devices already compatible with a keyboard and mouse, including Windows, Linux, Android and OS X devices. It takes two AAA batteries, and if users plug in multiple USB sticks, it's possible to switch between controlling the different devices by means of a single programmable gesture.
As with all crowdfunding efforts, you can't actually go out and buy the Nydeum Sense right now. What you can do is pledge your cash, and providing the project hits its US$100,000 target and everything goes to plan, you'll receive one of the first units in February 2017. Prices start at US$80 for a Nydeum Sense with a single USB stick connector.