Where to start with the "Beauty and the Geek" wearable keyboard. It's tempting to launch into a spiel about cafe-hopping hipsters that might just (and I mean just) be tempted by a pair of jeans with a built-in keyboard. Anything to lighten the load, non? But it's hard to imagine even the least self-aware urbanite willing to subject himself to the inevitable crotch-stares that BatG would surely attract - even when he's not typing. Which isn't to dismiss Nieuwe Heren's design - it does incorporate some rather neat ideas.
First of all, rubbery gray keys aside, the jeans look rather nice. I even rather like the orange seams which designers Erik de Nijs and Tim Smit intend to resemble a circuit board. The jeans come with a mouse attached by a sturdy-looking strip of elastic material. It fits into the specially-designed right-hand ass pocket.
The designers hope that the jeans will address the issue of RSI, allowing the wearer to wander away from a screen to a comfortable chair. In which case they'll be able to listen to music streamed from their computer courtesy of the incorporated speakers.
If you accept that a keyboard built into your pants is a good idea then I think this particular arrangement could conceivably be improved. The entire alaphabet is located on the left leg, which would necessitate an imbalanced typing position impractical for any protracted writing. A split keyboard with half the letters on each thigh would make more sense, and avoid the delicate issue of keys near one's genitalia (where - ouch - the return key currently finds itself).
The numeric keypad eating up prime right-thigh real estate should be expunged - I don't think this invention is likely to become the keyboard of choice for jobbing Excel number crunchers. In fact, the keyboard would probably benefit from an overall key reduction to something more akin to Apple's wireless keyboard. And the incorporated speakers are surely a bridge too far. Noisy pants? Heavy battery packs? Pass.
At the moment, there are no plans to bring the product to retail, though De Nijs told WebProNews that the estimated price to the consumer would be US$400. "The whole project is too complex and we don't have enough money right now to to get it ready for the market," he added.
It may be for the best that the project remains a fun proof-of-concept that may at least prompt further innovation in portable keyboards and input devices incorporated into clothing. The big however looming over the horizon is that, were these to launch, I'd not be the target market. The only question that matters is this: would you wear them?
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