CSR has demonstrated what it calls the world’s thinnest wireless keyboard today as part of its vision for the future of computing. The device is less than half of a millimeter thick, and it uses Bluetooth Smart wireless technology to connect to devices such as tablets or desktops.
The paper-thin keyboard is flexible, and you can integrate it directly into a protective smartphone or tablet cover. Or it can be used to create large touch zones on a desktop. Whatever the use, products based on the technology will be ultralightweight . The keyboard is made with electronic circuits that you can print, using inkjet printer technology, on a flexible membrane that is as thin as a human hair.
The device will be on display next week at the IFA Berlin trade show. Paul Williamson, the director of low power wireless at CSR, said in an interview with VentureBeat that you can use the wireless touch surface for other applications besides keyboards, such as handwriting drawing surfaces.
“The Bluetooth Smart wireless technology allows it to operate on a longer battery life or be even smaller,” said Williamson. “We’re taking the touch experience and making it wireless.”
He said that touchscreen keyboards don’t work that well because they take up half the real estate of your screen. And hardwired keyboards also limit the flexibility of the user. The demo keyboard has a 12 millisecond latency, which is a pretty good reaction time.
The surface uses CSR’s 1010 chip for Bluetooth Smart connectivity to iOS 7, Android v4.0, and Windows 8 devices. The only thing missing is the clicking and clacking feel of using a keyboard, as you don’t get the tactile depression feedback from the keyboard. It will likely be more expensive than normal mechanical keyboards, but it will be in the ballpark pricing for typical tablet keyboards. The parts for the technology are available today, but gadget makers have to design products around them.
CSR worked with Atmel and Conductive Inkjet Technology to make the wireless touch surface. Atmel provided the touch-related silicon while the flexible membrane is made by CIT. CSR is a wireless chipmaker in Cambridge, England