Google Japan introduces an “ergonomic” keyboard that measures 1.65 meters, but it’s a joke

The peripheral is a prototype that will not go on sale but that anyone can make at home with a 3D printer

It is common for technology companies to manufacture prototypes that they end up discarding, not so much that they are announced without the intention of marketing them and even less so that it is the company itself that takes it as a joke in its presentation video. But there is no other way to take a peripheral like the GBoard Bar that Google Japan has presented , a new concept of “ergonomic” DIY keyboard (Do it yourself) in the form of a bar and with its 101 keys aligned in a single row of 165 centimeters .

Although it is evident from the beginning that the thing cannot be serious, the new device has been presented with full honors through an entry on the Google Japan blog, its own web page from which the materials can be downloaded to proceed with its homemade and the usual video presentation with the design team talking very seriously about what they have achieved with this keyboard .


“Practical” application of the GBoard Bar. PHOTO (Custom Credit) Courtesy of Google.

Google Japan presents it as the stick version of the well-known GBoard, the virtual keyboard of the Android operating system. Its peculiar design has the function of facilitating the search for characters by requiring the user to look only in two directions, right and left, instead of also having to do it up and down as it happens on a rectangular keyboard. It’s what Google calls a “ one-dimensional QWERTY layout ”. Of course, it is one thing to locate a key, even with glasses, and another to reach it .

Ergonomics above all.

Ergonomics above all. PHOTO (Custom Credit) Courtesy of Google.

The company explains that with its 165 centimeters in length, greater than the width of many desks, the Gboard bar allows the user to stretch covertly at work with the excuse of reaching the furthest keys. It can also be used by two people at the same time , which obviously doesn’t make any sense, and it has many other varied and practical uses besides writing. Things that they explain very seriously in the blog and in the video, such as reaching a switch without moving from the table, taking out something that has fallen under a piece of furniture and cannot be caught by hand, using its “ ruler function” to measure the height of a child and is very practical on desks full of papers thanks to its 0.64 centimeter width.

Google Japan started with a 240-centimeter prototype but the team managed to reduce it to a more “ compact ” format. Takashi Toyosima, a senior software engineer at Google, explains in the video, “This is what we came up with when we were looking for a shape [for the keyboard] that would easily stick in people’s minds. Some said we were too adventurous, but I thought we shouldn’t let them hold us back in the long run .”

An engineer hunting

An engineer hunting “bugs” (bugs or “software” errors with GBoard Bar. PHOTO (Custom Credit) Courtesy of Google.

Shuhei Iitsuka, UX engineer at Google, believes that GBoard Bar “solves the problems of existing keyboards. He often had to search for a key on a large keyboard wondering where it was. With this keyboard, it is very convenient to know right away that the 16th letter from the left is “G”. I also remember it by length, like 23 cm from the left is the “S ”.

The product video also shows how using it for two people at the same time “typing speed will double” and it will also lead to “new friendships”. Other practical examples of its use are as a tightrope walker , attaching a butterfly net to one end so that developers can hunt bugs (bugs, as software errors are called) and use it as a cane on long walks.

Although the tone of the product presentation makes it clear that Google takes it as a joke, it also gives the option of making it a reality. From the Japanese Gboard Bar website, anyone can access the design documentation hosted on GitHub to build the device with the help of a 3D printer . Surely more than one will.

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