Companies like Logitech, Zagg and others have been making their iPad keyboard cases thinner and thinner with each generation, but a year from now we might be seeing accessory makers take advantage of a new technology from CSR– The world’s thinnest wireless touch surface that could make your iPad keyboard case paper-thin. The company develops a number of silicon, software, and wireless solutions for OEMs in the consumer electronics space, and tonight it showed off its new printable, flexible 0.5 mm thick touch surface for the first time during ShowStoppers, the official media showcase for the IFA consumer electronics show taking place here in Berlin.

CSR partnered with Atmel and Conductive Inkjet Technology (CIT) to develop the ultra-thin wireless touch surface. The device uses Atmel’s touch silicon to sense multiple contact points on a surface, and can offer a full touch surface or power optimised key detection. The flexible membrane is enabled by CIT printed conductors. CIT’s reel-to-reel printing process enables copper and other conductors to be applied to the surface of the ultra-thin and flexible membrane, and can be printed to fit a range of tablet shapes and sizes.

Not only is it the thinnest touch surface ever made, it’s also wireless thanks to built-in Bluetooth 4.0, which CSR tells us helped the prototype achieve “market leading battery life” in the thin form factor. It also has touch latency of about 12mS, which means no noticeable lag while typing, but also possibilities for gaming and other applications. It’s not just for iPad keyboards, however. Tablet keyboard cases might be the ideal form factor– and CSR agrees– but it can also create table-sized touch surfaces and even customizable layouts that can be easily and inexpensively added to the keyboard.  The tech is capable of picking up handwriting and stylus input as well, so typing and keyboards are certainly not the only implementation that we could see in the near future.

While it’s still a prototype, the company tells us its in discussions with many OEMs that are interested in the technology and that we could see consumer products implementing the paper thin touch surfaces as early as the holiday season next year. Head past the break for our first look at the prototype from tonight’s ShowStoppers show at IFA in Berlin.

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6 Responses to “The world’s thinnest touch surface from CSR could make iPad keyboard cases paper-thin by next year (Video)”

  1. rettun1 says:

    I thought the whole point of a keyboard case was because some people want to have actual keys to push in?

    Either way, this really is incredible technology.

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  2. Laughing_Boy48 says:

    Some people do define key travel as feedback, but I wonder if that’s really necessary. Some electrical feedback or vibration might be sufficient enough. The best mechanical keyboards I ever used were on IBM “golf ball” Selectric IIs back in the 1970’s because everything about them felt right and had been refined for years. Key travel, key concavity, key resistance, etc. I could easily achieve over 100 wpm on those things because they felt like silk. Even the sound of the “ball” smacking the paper was feedback. However, with practice, in theory, just tapping on a flat film should achieve greater speeds if some artificial feedback could be precisely generated. I’ve always found keyboards to be interesting and some very much a pleasure to use. I think CSR could really change the keyboarding industry in time if it can provide a user some virtual feedback.

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  3. But what makes this different from a touch-screen keyboard. I always thought the whole point of one-screen keyboards was so that you didn’t have to have a keyboard…?

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  4. I find this pretty pointless to be a keyboard for a device because it doesnt have any push in keys. But I’m sure this brings us one step higher to something better!

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  5. Can I get a sheet of this the size of my desk with customizable buttons and writing spaces so that my desk can become one giant touch interface? That’s where I see this going! Exciting stuff!

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