A commercially available flexible, rollable, fingerprint and spill resistant wireless keyboard for portable devices is about to hit the market. That is, if its inventors can collect nearly two million dollars on a crowdfunding website.
Canatu Ltd., a Finland-based developer of advanced carbon materials, products, and technologies, is collaborating with partners to bring to the market the Qii, a fully rollable QWERTY keyboard. Canatu’s partners have published this video showing a prototype of what promises to be an immensely popular product. The size of the rolled package is about half that of a standard toothpaste tube. The video shows people taking the roll out of their pockets, unfolding, and typing away as the letters appear on the screen of a nearby cellphone. Canatu will be the supplier of the touch sensor for this device if it gets funded.
Canatu’s partner firm, in charge of organizing the integration and manufacture of the Qii, has chosen an unusual method of raising funds for the research that still needs to be done: crowdfunding. Go to indiegogo.com, and you can help bring this product to life by contributing as little or as much as you want. You have until January 6, 2013, when the campaign closes. If the company does not manage to raise the $1,850,000 which they need for this project, all the money will be returned to the donors.
The technology is said to be based on carbon, as all other Canatu products. In particular, the company has developed (and patented) a material named NanoBud®, which is a hybrid between carbon nanotubes and fullerene. The material retains all the great electrical, thermal, and mechanical properties of nanotubes, while the fullerenes are typically used to bond with some other chemical, providing additional functionality. The company claims that NanoBud beats graphene on all grounds, and is almost as cheap as PEDOT. Still, much work remains to be done to bring the flexible rollable wireless keyboard to mass production, and we are excited to watch the race between the various competing technologies in the emerging market of foldable electronics.
Sources: Canatu Ltd website