Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Elecom Announces Worlds First NFC Keyboard

Japanese technology company Elecom has announced that the world’s first keyboard that connects with smartphones by the near field communication (NFC) system. The keyboard, which costs a whopping $240, has the same overall shape as a regular keyboard, except there is a large space in the middle where the phone is placed, keeping the typing keys on both sides. Users do nothing more than lay their Android handset down on the device, and then begin typing.

NFC technology has been included in Japan’s domestically produced flip phones for years, and doesn’t get much use outside of touch-payment systems, which allows users to touch their phone to a receptive pad in order to buy train passes, drinks from vending machines, or their groceries at supermarket registers. The technology is starting to make its way into different smartphones, especially international models from companies like Samsung. For connecting with a keyboard, NFC is more advantageous because it doesn’t require any kind of plug to be connected, or device pairings to be made like with Bluetooth.

Developed in cooperation with One2Touch, the silicone keyboard is foldable, and only weighs 144 grams. Measuring 34 centimeters long, there are 45 keys in standard layout, including letters and arrows, with a function key needing to be used for numbers and symbols. Here comes what appears to be the only downside: the keyboard features a built-in battery which is said to provide power for 18 months with eight hours of usage everyday. However, there is no way to replace the battery, and promotional materials also say it doesn’t plug-in to charge. So it sounds like they just want you to throw it away and buy another one once the battery dies. At $240 each, I don’t know how well that will go over with prospective buyers, but there don’t seem to be any immediate plans to sell the keyboard outside of Japan.

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