MyType, the pocketable, Bluetooth keyboard for smartphones and tablets, has been a long time coming. It could be said that the idea spans decades, back to 1989, when inventor Brunn Roysden first thought up the concept for a collapsible keyboard. In the years that followed, Roysden developed iterations of designs with limited success; by the early ’00s, the project lay dormant.
When Apple unveiled the iPad in 2010, he saw an opportunity to revive his long-standing keyboard obsession. Along with his partner Ben Rogers, Roysden prototyped myType, the culmination of over 20 years of work. Finally, the functional, flexible, and now pocket-friendly keyboard will hit the market, but before it does, Roysden is making it available on Kickstarter. The response has been riotous.
This time Roysden seems to have gotten it exactly right. Backers have pledged more than $100,000 to the campaign and placed over 1,600 orders. The initial production run is nearly tapped out, and with a few days left before the Kickstarter concludes, that stock is sure to be depleted. Why, after years of work and disappointment, did Rosyden’s project only now take off?
His intuitive belief that portable computing technologies would change everything proved key to myType’s realization. In the intervening years since 2001, when, discouraged, he set his keyboard aside, the world and technology had changed. “Mobile Internet was quickly becoming fast, affordable, and ubiquitous, allowing people to work away from their office or home,” he tells Co.Design. The potential, clearly, lay with tablets and smartphones.
By late 2011, after ten iterations and a complete redesign, the team was able to produce an initial round of working prototypes. The 50 keyboards went through several rounds of testing and were deemed functional. Feeling confident about the results, Roysden green-lit nearly a thousand additional units in early January.
Then things hit a brick wall. When they arrived, the new keyboards did not perform like the first batch had, and the team was forced to scrap them. “[T]he last thing the world needs is another mediocre keyboard,” Roysden says about their decision to reboot the project. They spent the next nine months fine-tuning their design in addition to working with fabricators to ensure that the next prototypes would be in working order.
The final product is perhaps the best portable keyboard available. Made of silicone rubber, myType is a thin–very thin–foldable keyboard that can be easily stored and transported. The silicone offers several benefits apart from being flexible, including durability, splash resistance, and most important, comfort.
The keyboard is split up into left and right sides. Fold the slip over on itself, and the keys click into place. A built-in Bluetooth component ensures compatibility with your iPhone or Galaxy, iPad or Galaxy Note, while still giving you some breathing room from your tablet or phone. Best of all, the battery life lasts up to eight hours or the duration of a workday.
The twin key aspects to myType’s patented design are the small size and “feel” of the keyboard. Of the former, Roysden explains that portable keyboards are, for the most part, poor surrogates for sturdier, larger boards. “For mobile computing, the best keyboard is the one you have with you…However, as soon as you want to start typing, small becomes the enemy.” MyType solves this by re-creating a full QWERTY keyboard that’s slightly modified to create a more spacious layout that won’t leave your with cramped hands.
As for the experience of typing on myType, it’s more akin to typing on your gadget than on a desktop counterpart. That’s intentional, Roysden says; myType is the “office in your pocket,” and not a replacement for your cubicle. And the differences are pointedly clear: the keys are “sculpted” and slightly deviate from the typical keyboard arrangement to encourage touch-typing.
Roysden cautions that myType requires a bit of a learning curve but cites tests where users were able to reach 75 words per minute after a brief period of adjustment. The interleaving keys will surely require some getting used to, as your left and right hands will be awkwardly out of sync. Still, these seem like small concerns; the project’s Kickstarter success is indication that consumers have been waiting just for just this kind of smartphone accessory.