Unless you’re a cat, there’s actually lot to like, as long as you’re OK with puns and craziness.

“Until now, we’ve been focusing only on the ‘key’ part of the keyboard,” explains Hiroyuki Komatsu, a software engineer at Google Japan, “but we start to think that we should be looking at what comes next.” It’s the sort of design philosophy you’d expect from a company that prides itself on innovation. The conclusion they arrived at, though, is anything but expected.

In Japanese, the word “keyboard” is is written like this.

That first part, キー, means “key,” so Komatsu and his fellow design team members looked at what literally comes next, ボー. That part means “board,” but because of the characteristics of Japanese pronunciation, ボー is actually pronounced “bou.” Bou, it just so happens, is also the indigenous Japanese word for “stick,” which is how Google Japan’s newly invented keyboard ended up like this.

The Key Bou, or Gboard Bar Version, as Google Japan also calls it, tosses out the familiar rectangular keyboard layout and instead puts all the keys in a line. This isn’t a partial, limited-use keyboard, like a 10-key for numerical data input, either. The Key Bou is a full keyboard, with every key you need for any and all applications.

The designers tout how easy it is to use. Instead of having to hunt up, down, left, and right for the key you’re looking for, you can simply start at one end and work your way down the line, confident that it’ll be somewhere along the single 165-centimeter (65-inch) row.

▼ The full layout

Aside from ease of use, some of the the myriad benefits of the Key Bou over a standard keyboard include:

● Can be used even on a desk crowded with documents
● Helps you maintain a comfortable amount of lateral personal space

● Form factor is less attractive to cats looking for a place to lie down.
● Single row of keys allows you to do all cleaning with a single stroke of a brush.
● If you type together with a partner, you can increase your input speed and strengthen your friendship.

And that’s just its workplace functionality. Google also points out that the Key Bou makes a great tabletop chopstick rest, and it’s also a suitable length to use as a walking stick when hiking in the mountains.

Shockingly, despite all the (twisted) logical thought that the designers put into it, apparently Google’s corporate management isn’t quite confident enough to start producing and selling Key Bous. However, the company has made all the programs and schematics necessary to make your own publicly available (much like they did with last year’s Japanese teacup keyboard), so if you’re ready to join the straight-line revolution, you’ll find all the information you need right here.

Source: Google Japan (1, 2)
Top image: YouTube/Google Japan
Insert images: YouTube/Google Japan, Google Japan (1, 2)
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[ Read in Japanese ]