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Breaking the type cast: TrewGrip's grab-and-go keyboard for mobile living


August 20, 2013

The majority of the keys are located on back, allowing you to use your eight fingers to type

The majority of the keys are located on back, allowing you to use your eight fingers to type

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Hunt-and-peck, letter by letter, on your Roku remote, awkwardly balancing a wireless keyboard on your lap while sitting on the couch, typing long, painful emails with your touchscreen keypad – the world needs a new keyboard paradigm for mobile living. Outlier Technologies attempts to provide one its TrewGrip, a rear-keyed smartphone dock that you can hold and type with and is designed for use with smartphones, smart TVs and more.

Keyboards were great when all your computing took place at a desk. But now that computing has gone wireless, there are many situations when the keyboard just doesn't work that well. Tiny touchscreen keyboards are slow and painful to use. Portable physical keyboards are awkward to use when not planted on a stable surface and certainly don't work when you're on the move. These options are "good enough" when you're typing short text messages, but if you really have something to say, they're very tedious.

The TrewGrip gives you a keyboard that moves as freely as your smartphone and other mobile devices. Instead of requiring that you lay it down, this grab-and-go keyboard is designed for holding and typing, be it while walking, standing, sitting, etc. It includes keys on the back, laid out in a vertical, split-QWERTY design, so instead of using your thumbs or pointer finger, you can get eight digits involved. The curved form factor is designed to bring the most distant keys close enough to type comfortably.

The front face of the TrewGrip has a dock to hold smartphones and small tablets (up to 7-in display) with a suction mount. It also has several thumb keys, including "space," "enter," and "back." The rest of the face is covered in a backlit illustration of the keys on the other side to help you become familiar with the layout. Each key illustration lights up when the corresponding key is pressed, helping you develop this new type of typing coordination.

The TrewGrip is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery providing 10 hours of life and connects to your device with Bluetooth 3.0. It can be used with smartphones and small tablets, as well as desktop computers and smart TVs. Outlier Technologies plans to offer a version with a USB dongle and integrated gyroscope for such purposes. The gyroscope will allow for it to serve as an air mouse, so that you can navigate on screen, as well as type. It should definitely be more comfortable and convenient for couch computing and home entertainment than a standard keyboard or hunt-and-click menu with remote control. It will have a 30-ft (9.1-m) wireless range.

Because of its non-traditional, vertical key layout, the TrewGrip will take a little getting used to, just like regular typing does. Outlier has developed training programs, games and conducted testing for the device and claims that users can develop 90 percent of their QWERTY typing speeds within about 10 hours.

Outlier Technologies launched the TrewGrip on Kickstarter earlier this month in an effort to raise US$100,000 for further development but as of the time of publication is still well short of this goal. A pledge of $249 will secure a pre-order for one of the first production models that are due to begin shipping in February if the goal is reached.

Source: TrewGrip, Kickstarter

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss

There is no modern justification for the current existence of the QWERTY keyboard. And now somebody comes out with a new kind of keyboard, which requires re-learning anyway, and they are PERSISTING the QWERTY?

Give me a break. I might buy this about when hell freezes over. I'll be watching the weather reports, but I don't see it happening anytime soon.

Anne Ominous

Many years ago, there was the "Microwriter", a one handed keyboard replacement that was far more prioductive than the qwerty (which is designed to slow you down), after a bit of re-training.

It was a great idea, but it never took off, and everyone involved lost their shirt.

Sadly, I think this will go the same way, though God knows we need to ditch the qwerty for good...


Such cool idea, but it still is a creative model, not an usual staff user used to.

But good trying.

Jammy Chen

I think you have to keep in mind that you have to operate the KB while keeping it in your hands- So you don'y have all ten fingers available as with the qwerky qwerty KB.

Its way better then the "old" SMS style of hitting one key several times to get to character you want. And loads of ppl got used to that. As long it will not replace the PC KB it will surely have a chance

Vincent Bevort

But but but...

If they ditch the QWERTY everyone will have to learn a new password!


A 1.5-octave musical keyboard is the future. The number of macros is astounding due to midi polyphonic chording capabilities, and can be binary-tracked very easily for virtual keyboard devices. With only one hand you can type over 300 words per minute. I typed the Declaration of Independence on a standard midi unit at over 600 words per minute, using an asm program that redirected midi signals to the keyboard listener of the OS. I'll give the program to anyone who contacts me, and you can see for yourself.


There's always snap keys.

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