Google Japan’s weird keyboards might be the best joke in tech • TechCrunch

The TechCrunch newsroom fears only one thing: the coming of April 1st. Because, I’ll just say it, the tech industry isn’t very funny. But Google Japan’s ongoing series of ridiculous keyboards, where they fully commit to the joke, suggests that we may have found the first known exception.

The latest is the “Gboard Bar Version”, (or stick version depending on the translation), a keyboard about 1.6 meters long (down from 2.4 meters in the original) with all letters and numbers arranged by left to right in “one-dimensional QWERTY layout.” There are options for ABC, ASCII and Katakana codes.

You will no longer need to hunt down and peck individual keys, the creators explain. “With this keyboard, it’s very convenient to know immediately that the 16th letter from the left is G.” So simple!

It also has ergonomic advantages:

“When you use this keyboard, your hands will naturally extend, so you can stretch your arms secretly even at work. “When you press the right and left keys at the same time, you may stretch your legs unintentionally,” the team writes.

Of course, it also doubles as a tool for hitting distant light switches and triples as a cane for when you need to touch grass. Watch the video below for many more smile-worthy little uses and benefits:

Posted on September 1st I think because it has 101 keys. The joke that it doesn’t appear on the traditional day for such things makes it all the funnier.

But this isn’t the first “new input suggestion from the Gboard team.” The posts have been going on for ten years, starting with a morse code input method and getting more involved from there. Some are more successful than others, but even if the spoon-bending is a bit much, the source video is still amazing. I love self-serious product travel consignments and this is no exception:

The Tegaki “natural handwriting” keyboard, essentially a real version of the swiping used in the real Gboard and others, is close enough to reality that you might think it’s a real product. In fact, I feel pretty sure I’ve seen something like this before, as a way to control the cursor.

Some of the designs are really interesting and remarkable little pieces of engineering, like this tilting keyboard:

Image Credits: Google Japan

And that built-in teacup is delightfully absurd:

Image Credits: Google Japan

In case you’re wondering how to use it (translated by Google from Japanese): “Kanji for fish are arranged syllabically on the 50 keys. Instead [an] alphabet, uses a sushi arrangement of sardine, sardine, eel, ei and okoze, and characters are entered by fish-kanji conversion.’ Very cute.

But the team is clearly having fun with it, and amazingly has built these designs — you can find the code and schematics here.

This is of course ancient news to our Japanese readers, but I hadn’t seen it played out here in the States. And I think the opposite end of the year from April Fool’s Day is the best time to highlight this delightful piece of work by a team that seems to be funny and dedicated in equal measure.

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