Smartphone Case Doubles As Chording Keyboard, With Gesture Inputs

Smartphones and other modern computing devices are wonderful things, but for those with disabilities interacting with them isn’t always easy. In trying to improve accessibility, [Dougie Mann] created TypeCase, a combination gestural input device and chording keyboard that exists in a kind of symbiotic relationship with a user’s smartphone.

With TypeCase, a user can control a computer (or the smartphone itself) with gestures, emulate a mouse, or use the device as a one-handed chording keyboard for text input. The latter provides an alternative to voice input, which can be awkward in public areas.

The buttons and motion sensors allow for one-handed button and gestural input while holding the phone, and the Bluetooth connectivity means that the device acts and works just like a wireless mouse or keyboard. The electronics consist mainly of an Adafruit Feather 32u4 Bluefruit LE, and [Dougie] used 3D Hub’s on-demand printing service to create the enclosures once the design work was complete. Since TypeCase doubles as a protective smartphone case, users have no need to carry or manage a separate device.

TypeCase’s use cases are probably best expressed by [Dougie]’s demo video, embedded below. Chording keyboards have a higher learning curve, but they can be very compact. One-handed text input does remind us somewhat of a very different approach that had the user make gestures in patterns reminiscent of Palm’s old Graffiti system; perhaps easier to learn but not nearly as discreet.

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Single Hand Keyboard For Tablets

To us it makes a lot of sense to hold the tablet in one hand and type with the other. That’s exactly how [Adam Kumpf] has implemented this one-handed typing interface which was originally conceived by [Doug Engelbart].

As you can see, there’s a large contextual area for each finger on your right hand. Letters and navigational keystrokes are input through this interface based on single touches, or combinations up to and including all five digits. This offers up 32 possible combinations (including all on and all off) which is enough to cover the modern English alphabet.

[Adam’s] demo page works for most tablets so give it a whirl. Yes, it works with¬†iDevices¬†too which is a surprise as we would have thought this was using Flash. If you’re not near a touch-sensitive device you can get the gist of the operation from the demo video embedded after the break.

Now, who’s going to be the first to make this into a replacement keyboard on iOS 5?

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