Sci-Fi enthusiasts have come to accept the fact that transparent displays only exist in Hollywood. Grippity, a transparent display tablet is set to change that and bring the future of ergonomic hand-held device to living rooms in time for next Christmas.
"Transparent tablets are just the next step in multi-touch devices that could make a turning point on how touchscreens can be used in a new form." Michael Nieto, TrendHunter
Is it a Tablet? A remote control? A game controller? A media center keyboard? Well, actually - that's for you to decide, it can be all of the above and more:
Your palms and shoulders will thank you - If the phrases "carpal tunnel" and "repetitive stress injury" are familiar to you (and you are not a physiotherapist..), then you would appreciate typing while maintaining neutral palm posture and the ability to change between standing, sitting, lying down and leaning back.
Fat fingers? If you have large fingers, the Grippity may be your first really usable touch device. Your fingers will touch the back of the pixel, so your fingers won't hide the pixels while you accurately touch them. Also, it makes playing Angry Birds way more fun…
Rule the world from your armchair - If you are a heavy typist and would like to lean back while doing so - this product was made for you. It would connect to your various systems via Wi-Fi and become your sole input device.
Touch a display like no man had touched before - Overlapping multi-touch panels with a transparent display in between opens up a whole new realm of gestures and possibilities. Intuitive opposite thumb pinching or 3D object manipulation on 2 axis simultaneously. We can't wait to see your idea of using it.
Well, we think it’s really COOL - If you are reading this, you are probably an early adopter who likes gadgets, especially when they are unique. We can't think of anything more unique than a transparent display in the middle of your living room (ok, a real holodeck, fold-able display, time machine and teleporter are cooler but they are still not on kickstarter and we are!)
Grippity is a totally new way of looking at input – A transparent, dual sided multi-touch display that enables you to lean back in your most comfortable chair (or even stand or lie down) and use ALL TEN fingers, while keeping your palms at a neutral ergonomic posture. It also enables you to accurately touch (the back of) small menu items and buttons on websites and software that were originally designed for desktops. As Grippity is running Android, you can download or develop apps for your specific needs.
Back sided capacitive multi-touch panel (approved patent)
Front sided capacitive multi-touch panel with extended programmable touch area (marked with 2 lit circles)
Android 4.2 (or 4.4 if available by then, spec allows it)
Quad core processor
- 1GB RAM
IR transmitter to control TV's and DVD's.
SD card slot, Expandable up to 32GB
8GB internal storage
Li-ion Battery, 2400 mA/h
Quite simple, actually. Normal LCD's consist of the liquid crystal display and backlight that emits light through the liquid crystal. This backlight component is opaque and diffuses the light across the display (in small displays the light come only from one side and then evenly diffused).
We simply took out the opaque parts of the backlight, leaving only one diffusion layer. The display is not as bright as normal LCD's, but hey- you get a transparent display! Add a rear touch panel and plug in an Android circuit and you're set
"As seen on TV"-
Once upon a time, a missile SW engineer, leaning forward to his keyboard for 10 hours straight, dared to ask himself why does he have to lean forward for the keyboard. He tried to lean back and put the keyboard in his lap and found that while his back and shoulders thanked him, the angle of his palms was now even worse, and when he needed his mouse, well… you get the picture. Once again, he asked himself why (he wasn't a normal engineer, started off as an architect) was the keyboard designed this way and the answer was amazing – It was never really designed! Early computer development was all about electronics, not ergonomics.
So, our Engineer suddenly sees this paradigm and decides to resolve it. He invents Backtyping, and registers a US patent. He explores different layout on cardboard and shared the idea with a (missiles) electronic engineer to build the first prototype:
(Actually that is the second, the first one was too ugly..)
In 2004, they posted an ad asking for a designer to get involved. Jacob came to a meeting, saw something that looked like it came from the future and knew this is the startup he was looking for.
We didn’t really do anything until 2006 when the patent was approved and then applied and received a chief scientist grant for industrial design. Taga Innovations were chosen to preform the ergonomic research and design and together we built this prototype (picture below) and won 2nd and 1st prizes in local and European start-up competitions.
We took this prototype to CES 2009, and got one important piece of feedback – learning curve! People want to start using a product right out of the box.
Since "Minority Report", almost every sci-fi movie shows displays as transparent. This movie, which predicted multi-touch gestures and motion sensing, inspired a lot of innovators, including ourselves. But while the reason for screen transparency in Minority Report, Iron man, Avatar etc. is mainly to be cool (which it is, no doubt) and to show to the camera both the display and actors expressions, we saw it and knew what are the real benefits of transparent display:
Using all fingers as fingers and not as a desktop replacement
Accurately touch pixels from behind.
We decided to try and raise more money so that the first Backtyping product will really disrupt the industry and break the typewriter paradigm. We also decided not to spend time and money on a new electronic design. We innovate input and display (output), we don't need to have have electronic design and risks on our heads too. We will use only off-shelf products that are reliable and just put them together in a new form-factor.
We built prototypes of transparent displays, trying to find the ultimate balance between transparency that allows you to see your fingers, and diffusion of backlight that allows you to see the image on the screen.
First, we tried to figure out the size of the display we need. 4.3" was too small, both in the iPhone prototype and the full Grippity size. Light diffusion seems like a bigger issue on such a small display. Second - trying to avoid having a CPU on board to reduce costs led us to some weird set-ups like to one in the upper picture - a secondary display gets the image from a desktop, gets the touch input and sends it back to the desktop. Trying to make this all wirelessly would need another IC, the battery will get bigger, and the software solution is un-reliable. No, we need a cheap CPU on board. Raspberry Pi showed up and couldn't have a better timing.
Using a car-seat display as the display and main frame, and a Pi as CPU, we manage to construct the first prototype of our transparent tablet. The capacitive touch was plugged in (via USB), and the display via the analog port (which made this low cost display even more unreadable).
After final assembly, we showed the device at an innovation event held by the Ben Gurion university. The feedback we got led us to change our form factor, back to a monolithic design. Problem was that the Pi+display card+battery were too big. That's when we started to notice that tablet are starting to be quite cheap. All we really need to add to the spec of a tablet is 1 touch panel. We bought a tablet, promised it that it won't hurt (had to lie) and that it is a part of history (you guys will decide), and came up with this:
The capacitive panel is plugged in via the USB and the display got the usual treatment. Every thing is enclosed by the upper panel, here still with the idea of leaving holes for tactile navigation switches and trackball:
Finally, after first interaction and some feedback, minor changes were made in the design and tactile navigation pad and trackball were cancelled (so that the upper cover can be fully touchable and programmable), finally - the new main body frame came from Shapways and assembled again.
Did you know? The first commercial typewriters started to appear in the 60's. 1860's. they were mechanic of course, weighted accordingly, and mounted on a special table, much like sewing machines of that time. The leaning-forward paradigm was born. One of the first patents of typewriter machines, claimed by Sholes in 1874 for the invention of QWERTY layout that slows down typing speed in order to prevent likelihood of clashing typebars during typing. Do the typebars on your iPhone clash? If not – thank Sholes.
Risks and challenges
If you bothered to read our story, you already know we went a long way in the design-production path and spent a lot of our own money before deciding we are ready to ask for people's money in exchange for a product. Its a huge responsibility, and we believe we are ready:
1. We negotiated the price of the molds and have some quotes.
2. Visited assembly lines in the far-east and Israel, and have consulted with production-line specialists, who will finalize the production details once we can pay them.
3. Designed by Taga, a leading industrial design studio, every angle and curve on the Grippity design was ergonomically inspected.
4. We negotiated with lots of certification labs, suppliers, distributors and retailers in last few years. With lots of connections in the industry and mentoring of some experienced engineers from the security and medic industries, we believe that our costs will be low and our quality remain high.
What ever your are doing with your Android or smartphone tablet. The display is intended for internal use, with the ability to back-touch it, for faster, more accurate and more ergonomic experience. With a few simple free apps, it can be your keyboard+mouse, universal remote control, casual gaming tablet or very impressive background-lighting picture frame.
Programmers can appreciate an open android platform with a huge area of 16cmX6cm of programmable touch area, in addition to the dual sided touch area of the display. So it can be a dedicated game controller+keyboard for World of Worldcraft, a 3D joystick for flight simulator, what ever you imagine it to be.
This is what it really cost to finalize development into production.
Some people advised us to put a lower goal, so that our funding rate looks better, and if we don't meet our real goal we can simply cancel the campaign even though it was funded.
We think that's cheating.
We think that projects that are funded by investors and use Kickstarter as a cheap marketing platform shouldn't be allowed as they pull the funding goals down and make authentic projects lower their goal to a very risky level.
Yes, there is a SD card slot to upgrade the storage to 36GB. We really think this is a waste of money to be included as a default, as this is mainly a control tablet that would usually run simple remote-control apps.
No internal difference. Same spec, same production line. The $159 is a discount price to get some funding momentum, $235 is the price after the 500 discounted units are pledged, $333 is the price of a (100 units limited) kings edition Grippity, which comes in gold color, and your bitmap (logo, name, family picture) on the opening screen.
Kickstarter don't allow chanhing the rewards, even if they were upgraded. We are in touch with Kickstarter to make an exception, the spec was upgraded after we saw people demanded it and that we can afford the change in $.
You got your self a transparent display control-tablet, cortex A8, 4GB, Android 4+, dual sided touch. Your Name/Logo is displayed when device turned on, limited gold color edition. Your name on our web site.
A hand made, 3d printed, fully functional prototype of the Grippity2 input device, just like the one in the video+color of your choosing+your named or sentence engraved. Be the first to get a grip on the future, experience the transparency and dual sided touch and start to develop 6 months before everyone else. The units will be marked as "samples" without certificates (FCC, CE etc.).
Get one of our first, hand made early keyboard tactile prototypes + Framed and signed "thank you" with your name, picture and link on our web site+reward #4.
Pledgers will be contacted by the chronologic order of pledging to choose from available prototypes.