We -Dirk, Kimmo and Andrew- have developed a gadget that a lot of Jolla users have been waiting for since day one: a hardware keyboard that attaches to the smartphone via its unique "The Other Half" interface. It's 100% plug-and-play, so you won't have to tinker with drivers. Just snap it on your Jolla and the keyboard will set everything up for you and you are good to go!
Don't have a Jolla?
To every backer that orders a fully assembled TOHKBD, Jolla gives a 100E discount coupon! The coupon will be sent after the campaign ends and can be used at the Jolla Online Shop to purchase one Jolla smartphone. Jolla Online Shop delivers to EU, Norway and Switzerland. So you can get used to the phone while you wait for us to produce all units, untill the day comes and we transform your phone completely! Now is the time to jump ship and join the movement!
What is "The Other Half?"
The Other Half concept is developed by Jolla. It is a way to easily change the look and feel of your phone and extend the functionality depending on your demand.
The Other Half Keyboard (TOHKBD) snaps on to the back of the Jolla and connects via the I2C-enabled pogo-pins. This interface transfers data directly in and out of the phone and eliminates the use of Bluetooth or extra batteries, making it very energy efficient. After it is attached to the phone, it activates itself, downloads its driver and is usable without any changes in settings or other steps.
TOHKBD Design features
After a survey among users we learned that durability and more importantly functionality is regarded to be significantly more important than optimizing on thickness. Because we work on a demand-base with and for the community, we worked very hard to make the best hardware keyboard ever!
The Other Half Keyboard frame is professionally 3D printed with PLA plastic. Injection molding is possible if we far exceed the goal, but the current printed frames already have a nice feel and are available in all sorts of cool colours. Damaged parts can very easily be reprinted in the future and fast development cycles make sure we can deliver a finished product as soon as possible.
The printed circuit boards connecting to the phone and in the bottom panel hold all electronics. Additionally they act as a strong fiberglass structural backbone of the assembly to eliminate any chance of bending now and in the future to ensure a perfect connection and all-round durable product.
Thickness compared to other full QWERTY phones
- 10mm — Standard Jolla
- 11.6mm — Jolla with TOHKBD cover
- 13mm — Motorola Droid 4
- 14mm — LG Optimus F3Q
- 16mm — LG Freedom
- 16.2mm — Jolla with TOHKBD + Keyboard Piece
- 18mm — Nokia N900
To be able to reduce the thickness in daily use we've made the keyboard piece completely detachable. You can learn more about that and some other innovations we've used next.
Detachable magnetic keyboard panel
The keyboard panel is being held steady by powerful but gentle magnets that don't interfere with any kind of radio or electronics in your Jolla and give you just the right opening and closing feeling with no fear that it will fall off from the gust of wind.
Don't need keyboard with you for some reason? Apply just a little more force and detach the panel without swapping around Other Halves. And yes, it consumes zero power when closed or detached.
Keyboard panel contact pads
The data and power transfer between the two parts is done with 'contact fingers' that connect to the contact pads located on both sides of the phone. Before we forget: this allows you to slide out keyboard to both sides of the phone!
This is the only part visible on the bottom piece. The contact fingers are supported all around to prevent them being bent or lose their springiness over time.
Since we don't use complex rails&springs system to move keyboard around, these "bumps" instantly align the detachable panel at the exact angle in each position. It really snaps into place every time!
Lastucase Wooden backplate
Thanks to our friends from Lastucase, we've been able to add that final "unlike" touch to our product along and make it more durable. The backplate protects the bottom printed circuit board and gives it a very clean finish. You'll be able to choose from the whole Lastucase variety of woods, shown below.
In addition to the four Lastucase wooden backplates, it will also be possible to choose carbonfiber, brushed steel and brushed black steel backplate. These are made from vinyl and have a very nice texture.
The keypad is being manufactured with "Plastic + Rubber" technological process. In simple words, plastic key caps made with translucent material are painted and then glued to the steel-reinforced silicone base. Actually -and this is what we are really proud of- it is the same high quality keypad you get at any other big manufacturer. The manufacturing techniques are identical as the N900 and a similar finish can be expected!
The keypad is placed on top of a dome-sheet, that acts both as a light guide and as tactile feedback for the keys.
The layouts on the other hand, is where it really comes together!
Comfortable user experience.
The keyboard has been designed from the ground up with the goal to achieve the best typing experience possible. Smartphones have grown up and so did TOHKBD. Jolla's dimensions were able to house an extremely spacious layout so from now on you won't have to concentrate on aiming and just flow with typing.
Power user ready
Unlike any other smartphone keyboard, TOHKBD is designed not only for consumer market, but to finally translate each and every users dream of having a mobile keyboard that's comfortable to be used with demanding software like terminal or remote desktop. No more digging through endless menus or covering screen estate with touch buttons. All the necessary symbols and keys are right under your thumbs.
Hotkeys -if done right- can dramatically increase your interaction speed with your phone. The problem is that mobile keyboards usually treated shortcuts as something too complex for average user and don't think about them during design process at all. That oversight inevitably led to painful "ninja-esque" finger figures in order to perform simple "copy/paste". TOHKBD on the other hand, invites you to use hotkeys as much as possible, because now they are easier than ever.
Being able to use hotkeys is only half the story! We understand every user is different, using different applications and spending as little -or as much- as possible time with their phone to get the job done. So, additionally to all regular hotkeys, users will be able to fully customize the hotkey combinations they want. This includes adding symbols, launching apps, running scripts and more complex hotkey combinations for remote desktop users. Sending "CtrlAltDel" to your pc should be possible for people that do not have three thumbs!
Instead of blindly copying desktop experience and trying to make it usable for a handheld, we looked in different direction. For decades thumb-operated systems are being used, with the only goal to provide easy navigation and precise interaction for hour in a row — the gamepad. After careful adaptation we got a directional key that's big enough for any thumb and comfortable enough for any purpose from retro-gaming to 8 hour text editing. Like on any other gamepad it is placed on the left, this centers the alphabet part of the keypad and makes lightning-fast navigation and text selection possible!
The world doesn't end beyond the QWERTY layout and neither did we. With one extra column of keys TOHKBD can handle almost any imaginable keyboard layout without sacrificing typing speed by moving additional characters under "Function" modifier or to on-screen menu. Check out some options below that will be available. Don't see your layout? That's probably because of demand issues, it would be too expensive to fire up whole factory to produce a single item. But have we abandoned you? No way! You will be able to laser etch any kind of layout in any engraving-workshop near your location, we will provide you with all the necessary vector files so it would look just as pretty as any other.
To determine the demand we will ask everyone for their first and second choice of layout. If the layout you want by another 100 users — then we can produce it without increasing costs for the rest. Necessary trade offs to stay within reasonable production price need to be done sometimes, but we will do out best!
Want something really outstanding? Dvorak? Colemak? Klingon? No problem! There will be a STEALTH version with completely clean black keys for you to engrave your fully custom layout and symbols without any quality reduction.
Oh and did we forget to mention it will have LED backlight?
Software turn good hardware into a good user experience. To extend the usability of regular users from all parts of the world and hardcore Jolla hackers, the following things will be possible:
- Auto-hide virtual keyboard when opened
- Loading keys from user customizable files
- Assigning script commands (.sh) to any modifier+key!
- Landscape lock when opened
Current stage of the project
At this stage the design is complete and there are working prototypes that proves the connection works as planned. The software to drive the keyboard works, all electronics components are selected and PCB's are being finalized to match the final design.
On a short term developer-prototypes will be shipped to the developers within the TOHKBD team and to JollaHQ. These will be completely soldered and assembled by hand.
Why we need the funding
Making a new product — especially in a limited quantity — is not cheap. To get a premium/professional finish, molds have to be made and extra costs such as assembly by third parties come into play. Also, there is a lot of tooling required for in-house production.
Most parts that are outsourced have a 1 to 2 month lead time. But there are some parts that have to be optimized after receiving the other. For instance the casing can only be ordered after it is optimized for perfectly fitting the PCB and keypad.
This means that from the time the campaign proves successful, we need a few months to finalize, order, manufacture and assemble all keyboards.
Shipping goes worldwide with tracking and insurance. Due to the way the magnets have to be shipped -to prevent issues- there is a very small amount of assembly, meaning pressing 6 magnets in place. No tooling required, very straight-forward.
- €7 — within Holland
- €11— within EU
- €16— worldwide
All backers will be contact after the campaign proves successful. Everybody will be able to specify:
- Their choice of keypad layout
- Their wooden finish type
- For backers who chose custom colour option these are the options:
The default colour is polished white.
Additionally we will provide all the files necessary for those that want to add additional symbols to their keypads. This can be done easily at any local laser-engraving shop.
If you bought a TOHKBD rev1 straight from Dirk (not second hand), you are a hero and the success of this and other projects is for a large part thanks to you! Your faith and support will not go unnoticed! If you order a TOHKBD2 now, you will additionally get a SolarTOH (colour of your choosing), a BreadboardTOH kit or a free upgrade to Signature Edition!
All backers will get all files needed to do any modifications, now or in the future!
We are available via IRC for quick questions! We will do our best to answer all questions and to add information here if that proves necessary.
Risks and challenges
The largest challenge in this project is the scale. Assembling hundreds of keyboard by hand is a big job and small errors can result in a lot of work to correct.
On the other hand, getting parts assembled and made with injection molds is usually not something that is affordable when making only a few thousand pieces.
To tackle this challenge each part is optimized to be assembled easily while still maintaining a clean look. Getting the crucial components in an early stage to have the time to assemble and optimize all surrounding parts will be a major focus point.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)