News: This Futuristic Wearable Keyboard & Mouse Combo May Be a Perfect Companion for Your Smartphone

This Futuristic Wearable Keyboard & Mouse Combo May Be a Perfect Companion for Your Smartphone

Android phones have supported keyboards and mice for a long time, and you've even been able to use physical keyboards with iPhone and iPad models. But iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 finally include official mouse support. That means you can use a wireless or wired mouse and keyboard with your iPhone or iPad, though, a futuristic peripheral that combines the two may be even better.

Tap is a wearable keyboard/mouse combo that seems like a perfect match for smartphones and tablets. It's not as neck contorting as face-tracking inputs, doesn't use any bulky lamps to create augmented reality interfaces, and requires no tabletop laser projectors. Instead, you wear Tap on your proximal phalanxes, with a ring for each finger equipped with accelerometers that collect the necessary data from your digits. That data is then sent over Bluetooth to the connected device.

To type, you memorize taps and sequences to input characters instead of interacting with a holographic keyboard on a flat surface. Each of the vowels is a single tap of a different finger, while other letters, special characters, and keyboard functions are two or three fingers together or double-taps. There's a bit of a learning curve, but some users have been able to type over 50 words per minute (70 is the record).

The first-gen Tap Strap in action. Image by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

As for the mouse side of things, there's an optical chip built into the thumb ring that includes a laser and image sensor. When your thumb is touching a flat surface, it's in optical mouse mode, and moving it around will move the cursor on your screen. To perform mouse clicks, drag-and-drop, or scroll, you use taps from your other fingers with your thumb and hand still touching the table.

But that's for the older Tap Strap unit. The new version, Tap Strap 2, released on Oct. 8, 2019, adds an "AirMouse" feature. That means you can use air gestures to perform mouse movements with simple, natural hang gestures. The new AirMouse feature has three modes available:

  • Mouse Mode: Lets you control a cursor, click and scroll just like you would with a standard mouse.
  • Multimedia Mode: You can play, pause, adjust volume, and move to the next or previous track.
  • Smart TV Mode: You can navigate menus, select items, and search for content.

Also included in the updated Tap Strap 2 is stronger support for iPhone and iPad models. What that means is that it will let you perform horizontal swipes, access the app switcher, launch the home screen, and more. Basically, you won't have to touch your iOS device much or even at all — the Tap Strap 2 can do it. The new version also has a new thumb ring glider, better battery life, improved mouse optics, and a selfie gesture so you can take photos without touching the phone or tablet.

The MSRP is a bit high at $199 for Tap Strap 2, but you can get it from Amazon with free shipping. The same goes for getting it from the Tap Store. The first generation Tap Strap is still available, if AirMouse isn't something you think you'll need, and that's been discounted down to $149 with Tap Strap 2's arrival, 25% off the original price. Free shipping for it is also available from both Amazon and the Tap Store.

Whatever version you choose, you don't have to just use it on your iPhone or iPad. It will work on Android devices, Mac and Windows computers, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, the Microsoft HoloLens, Oculus Go or Quest, smart TVs, and any other devices that accept Bluetooth input for computer and mice. So it can be a part of your daily routine, from device to device.

The first-gen Tap Strap. Image by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

Both Taps works for left-handed and right-handed users, comes in two different sizes, and includes a hardshell case to both protect and charge the Tap rings. If you're on the go a lot, it's more portable than a separate keyboard and mouse, and you can always take a portable charger with you that can re-juice your Tap, phone, tablet, or whatever.

I've tested out the first-generation Tap Strap myself, and there's definitely a learning curve, but if you stick with it, Tap could be your new favorite gadget. As long as you can remember all the taps and hand positions needed to make it run smoothly, you're golden. There are occasions when it seems to do its own thing no matter how you tap or move, but things will only get better as Tap issues software updates. Plus, if you get the Tap Strap 2, the air gestures will be much easier to use.

Cover photo by Justin Meyers/Gadget Hacks

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