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The Qii flexible keyboard rolls up like a sheet of paper

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December 11, 2012

The Qii is a thin, flexible keyboard that connects wirelessly to smart devices and rolls u...

The Qii is a thin, flexible keyboard that connects wirelessly to smart devices and rolls up into a portable case about the size of a roll of coins

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Keyboards have come a long way from the plastic dust traps of yesteryear. In just the past few months, we've seen virtual keyboards that project onto any surface and gloves that let users "type" in thin air. Now a handful of inventors have created the Qii, a thin, flexible keyboard that connects wirelessly to smart devices and rolls up into a portable case that fits in your pocket.

There have been a few keyboards that could be rolled up in the past, but these still only shrunk to the size of a magazine, which is still a bit bulky. When it's stored away, the Qii (pronounced key) is about as big as a roll of coins, but can be pulled out easily like a tape measure and laid over almost any surface to type on.

With a corresponding app, the keyboard connects to supported smart devices over Bluetooth. The full QWERTY keyboard also has a textured surface for easier touch typing and an anti-fingerprint coating that can be washed with just soap and water. To top it all off, the case itself is a touchpad that lets users scroll through and select items onscreen.

Over a period of several years, the team behind the bendable keyboard developed a technique for printing programmable touch sensors onto a new carbon-based nanomaterial that can conduct electricity. The result was a transparent film that can be programmed to detect the force and position of a finger touching it. Surprisingly, the flexibility of this film also enhances the keyboard's resilience. Since all the electronic components are printed flat and made of water and dirt resistant materials, the keyboard can survive drink spills and even being hit with a hammer.

Since all the electronic components are printed flat and made of water and dirt resistant ...

There are plenty of possibilities for an ultra-thin wireless touch sensor, and the designers hope this will be the first of many products to use the technology. The Qii's electronics are built into a bendable plastic for now, but with future development, similar electronic components could be printed on a smaller scale and onto almost any material, even paper. And since it's completely programmable, different apps could yield wildly different uses for the material aside from a QWERTY keyboard.

The makers of the Qii are currently running an Indiegogo campaign to finalize the product and bring it to full production, but there's still plenty of testing and design work left to finish, particularly with getting all the components to fit inside the case properly. As of this writing, there's less than 30 days left for it to reach its US$1,850,000 goal with just over $9,000 in contributions, which doesn't seem like a good sign unfortunately.

The Qii's electronics are built into a bendable plastic for now, but could be printed on a...

You can still reserve your own Qii in a variety of colors for donations starting at US$120 however, with delivery expected for October 2013, provided the Indiegogo campaign reaches it's target. Certain contributors who donate a significant amount will also have the chance to work with the team to program the material with their own custom functions.

Check out the video below to see how the Qii rolls out onto any surface to act as a working keyboard almost anywhere

Source: Indiegogo

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
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2 Comments

Looks good but will resting my fingers on the keys cause problems?

Slowburn
11th December, 2012 @ 09:37 am PST

Those who work with paper drawings roll know that they take a "set" when rolled. When unrolled they have a tendency to curl. But if you roll the drawings print side out, gravity works with you when they are unrolled and they are easier to keep flat. Here's hoping this device has enough weight at the end to keep it flat when in use.

Bruce H. Anderson
12th December, 2012 @ 08:52 am PST
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