Sensel Morph force-sensitive input pad pushes past keyboards and trackpads

The keyboard and trackpad are cornerstones of mobile productivity, but they take up a lot of room. We’ve already seen one crowdfunding approach to combining them but the combination isn’t necessarily greater than the sum of their parts.

The Sensel Morph is a Bluetooth touch input device that’s sensitive to pressure — so sensitive, in fact, that it can pick up the bristles of a paintbrush with its 20,000 embedded sensors. The company is taking advantage of its versatile surface by making available a series of magnetic overlays that have raised surfaces. Some of the first are a DJ control pad, a typing keyboard, a music keyboard, a drum pad and game controller.


ODiN claims rule of virtual computer trackpads

There isn’t a whole lot of innovation being made in the computer mouse category. You might even say that if you’ve used one mouse, you’ve used them all.

patent-claimedBut the makers of ODiN are attempting to change that.  ODiN is a laser projection mouse that aims to help users whose arms and wrists tend to hurt after using a traditional mouse for extended periods of time. ODiN works by projecting a laser onto a flat surface, subsequently creating an area that can be touched with one’s fingers to perform functions ordinarily performed with a mouse or a trackpad.  Instead of expending energy and moving around a computer cursor with a mouse, users can simply move their fingers across a flat surface instead.

The mouse is compatible with both Windows PCs and Macs and can be easily connected via USB. It’s being fielded in a choice of three colors –- black, green and silver. It’s priced at $66 and will ship in June. Its maker is hoping to raise $50,000 by May 8.

The ODin mouse holds promise because of its innovative design and functionality. The campaign’s emphasis on the device’s portability, however, seems a bit over the top. Indeed, it doesn’t seem much more portable than a traditional mouse, especially when one considers that the ODiN is not wireless capable.

Television Wearables

Google Glass-like Narwhal clips on to your glasses, works in the shower

High-tech wearables that can be worn over the eyes hold a special place in pop culture canon, and have largely stayed there over the years. Most attempts at a functional piece of technology that could be worn comfortably while still providing lots of compelling content easily have all pretty much crashed and burned. Why would merQ think they have solved these problems?

Their product is the Narwhal Clip-On, a wearable device that attaches to any pair of glasses and instantly upgrades them from merely pieces of glass to a capable digital accessory by adding a digital display and a compartment in which streaming sticks like the Chromecast or the Roku can be inserted. Listen to your favorite content with the retractable Bluetooth headphone, and control it with the trackpad mouse on the rear. The display is also waterproof so your showers can become the theater you always wanted it to be. The future’s cost of entry is $299 CAD (~$260 USD) and backers can start using it June 2015. MerQ’s campaign is aiming for a $85,000CAD (~$74,200) goal.

If the behemoth that is Google tried and spectacularly failed with Glass, I don’t see how the Narwhal really sets itself apart. It adds more computer elements to an interface that doesn’t need it and frankly shouldn’t have it, and it shows: the Narwhal is incredibly ungainly and bulky. Even if the company is looking to streamline it, their reliance on streaming sticks will limit it. High-tech glasses are ultimately limited by technology, and we just don’t have what we need yet to make a compelling, Star Trek-esque version quite yet. Let’s not jump the gun.