Hardware

Review: Tap Wearable Keyboard & Mouse

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Tap-on-left-hand.jpg

Over the weekend I got my hands on (literally) a Tap Wearable Keyboard & Mouse and wanted to give my opinion on it. The Tap is a device that is worn on one hand and is intended to be a futuristic replacement to the typical and outdated keyboard, mouse, and game controller. This device allows the user to have the functions of these devices without the need for a traditional desk. Using motion sensors and a thumb-mounted mouse, the Tap provides all of the functionalities of the conventional keyboard and mouse, while looking like the brass knuckles of the future. The device can be used with PCs, iPhones, iPads, and other Bluetooth-enabled devices. Also, the gadget can be worn on both the right or left hand and has adjustable rings for each finger connected by a flexible rubber material. The product’s packaging was very professional looking, containing a nicely designed carrying case that also serves as a micro-USB charger station. Additionally, the device is magnetically secured inside the case, offering a high level of safety.

I found that the device can fit a wide variety of different hand and finger sizes, although, wearing a wedding ring with the gadget can be troublesome. The battery life of the device was adequate, enabling the device to only requiring a new charge once or twice a week, depending on usage. While the design and appearances of the device are quite stunning, learning how to use it was very difficult. Unlike the standard keyboard and mouse that most use, the Tap device requires an entirely new input method which correlates various combinations of finger taps with numbers, punctuations, and letters of the alphabet. To further explain how this works, a single tap of the index finger makes the letter E, and a single tap of the thumb creates the letter A. At this point I was comfortable with the device’s operations, however, how do you make the rest of the alphabet? This is when things get tricky. To create an N, the user must tap the thumb and the index finger, and to create a K the user must tap the thumb and ring finger. The device handles punctuation in the same manner, for example, to create a comma, two taps of the index finger will be needed. While these operations seem relatively straightforward, learning the new input language can be frustrating.

Thankfully, there are apps that can make all of this much more straightforward. TapGenius is an app that helps the user learn the numerous input methods of this device. TapGenius walks you through the different taps by spelling out various words, enabling the user to eventually master the commands. The app itself is very well suited to beginners and is quite skilled at making the daunting task of memorizing all of the gestures much easier. There is also TapAloud, which is an Audible form of TapGenius. While the Tap team says you should be able to learn how to fully operate the product in around an hour or two, I am sure it will take longer for many. After spending a few hours playing around with the product, I feel comfortable typing any word, although at a much slower speed. I am sure with more use I can master the product and its commands at a more proficient level.

One feature of the product that I was very interested in was the TapMapper tool, which enables users to design their own gestures and custom layouts; these loadouts can also be shared with other Tap users. TapMapper supports mapping of keybinds for games, triggers for controlling devices, different languages, and (drumroll) shortcuts for coders. I wanted to see how the Tap keyboard works for games, so, with some effort, played a few matches of Fortnite on my cell phone, and it was an awesome and fresh experience. There are a few mobile games for Tap as well, including TapTapBunny, TapSquadron, TapChase, and TapLoops.

Like all products, there are some issues I found with the Tap device. Even once I became proficient with the commands, the device wasn’t always as good at recognizing them. In Tap product videos, the device is shown being used on both hard and soft surfaces, such as on a leg. I personally found using this device on anything than a desk to be quite tricky, however, not impossible; I am sure with continued use this can be done. Also, the games the Tap app provides, although useful, are not necessarily enjoyable enough to play for more than a few minutes. I do have to say that TapLoops was very fun and helped me further master the device’s operations.

Overall, I loved the device. For someone who travels a lot, this device can make writing an email on an airplane much more efficient, and also minimizes the amount of hardware one must carry by eliminating the need for a bulky keyboard and mouse. I found that the Tap device is an excellent step forward into the world of AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality), showing what we might expect to use when operating machines of the future. Offering greater functionality and cool points (because that matters), this device has a more enjoyable operation than tethered setups. While the Tap may never provide the same WPM (words per minute) as a conventional keyboard for many users, there are several videos of users achieving speeds of around 50 WPM, while the product has a theoretical 120 WPM max. Fun fact, I actually used the device to write this post, and although it took much longer than usual (still learning), it was much more entertaining. For $179.99, the Tap Wearable Keyboard and Mouse is an enjoyable and useful piece of technology for those who wish to experience the future of input devices such as keyboards, today. Feel free to check out more about the product at their website here.

Image by https://www.Tapwithus.com/

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