Someday our grandchildren will wonder what life was like before we all typed on tea cups.

The forward-thinking engineers at Google Japan are constantly looking for ways to innovate existing technology and improve our quality of life. In that way, standard keyboards have always presented hurdles for Japanese users not only because western language input layout is inefficient, but because they are prone to spills from cups of green tea.

But what if we could solve both problems at the same time? As absurd a notion as that sound, Google has actually accomplished it with the Gboard Yunomi Version.

This revolutionary design is based on the yunomi tea cups often found in Japanese restaurants that serve complementary cups of tea. It’s a time-tested design that excels in comfort and style.

This keyboard can operate at temperatures between -10℃ and 60℃ (10℉ – 140℉) but simultaneously hold drinks from -20℃ to 140℃ (-4℉ – 284℉). It also connects via a USB-C cable and can hold 125 milliliters (4.2 ounces) of your favorite beverage.

However, it’s the entirely new layout that really sets this keyboard apart. Breaking with the Japanese Industrial Standards or JIS (“jiss”) design Google has developed its own SSI (“sushi”) layout.

The keyboard is decoratively labeled with various kanji for fish, in keeping with a popular yunomi aesthetic at sushi restaurants. However, upon closer inspection you will find that each fish key corresponds to a character in the Japanese syllabary. For example, the first fish kanji is aji (horse mackerel) and corresponds to the character “a” (あ), or tapping unagi (eel) will yield a “u” (う), so to type the Japanese word for “meet” – which is “au” (会う) – all you need to do is press “horse mackerel” and then “eel.”

The keyboard can also be set to type only in fish name kanji, if needed.

▼ A virtual Gboard Yunomi Version is free to use on the official website

This product is so amazing that some of you might dismiss it as an April Fool’s Joke, but we should remind you that this was released on October 1st, not April 1st. You literally cannot get any father away from April Fool’s Day than that.

This product is very much real and took six months of development plus six months of production to achieve. After it was completed, the team also let the concept sit and mature for about 18 months, which means it’s been laying in wait since April… Wait a minute.

▼ There’s something fishy about a few things on that desk…

Okay, maybe it was meant to be an April Fool’s joke? That’s not really for us to say, but it still is a real thing. Although it’s not for sale, Google has kindly released everything needed to create your own Gboard Yunomi Version on a GitHub page, from schematics to open source software and even 3-D printer files to create the parts.

If there was one flaw in this design it’s that Google Japan didn’t seem to take into account users like myself and the other 10 percent of Earth’s population who require a left-handed tea cup keyboard. Considering, it’s been a year and I’m still waiting for a left-handed novelty giant Enter key, it would seem that we are still a woefully overlooked minority in the IT world.

Source: Google Japan, GitHub
Images: Google Japan
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