Magic Cube
Laser projection keyboard for filing your minority reports
By: Jeff W. Richards | Feb 29, 2012 | Issue: 936 | No Comments | 6,627 views

Photo: Kohji Shiiki; hand model: Jeff Hammond

With tablets becoming ubiquitous and smartphones the norm, inputting your crap into them is getting ever harder—especially with new smaller keyboard options that are mostly fiddly at best. The premise of the Magic Cube is promising: pair it to your device, and start typing on a full-size QWERTY keyboard projected onto the surface in front of you.

Set up couldn’t be simpler. The Cube works with any gadget (iPhone, iPad, Android, laptop, tablet, etc.) that can connect to mice, keyboards, headphones etc. via Bluetooth-based wireless technology. Tap, scroll or click your way to said device’s Bluetooth options and make sure “On” is, indeed, on—otherwise known as “discoverable.” Once they find each other, your gadget will spit out a four-digit code. Enter it on the cool red keyboard glimmering on the table before you and hit “Enter.” Done.

In a tactile sense, it’s not that much different than typing on an iPad, though the keyboard real estate is bigger—much bigger. Despite nifty typing skills, we ended up with text like: “dfgus tus thibg ib? The quck briwb fix humosiet he kszy fig.” So until you really get used to it, you’ll be doing a lot of editing.

The Magic Cube keyboard can handle input up to 400 characters per minute (if you got along well with the Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing course). It feels somewhat strange tapping on, well, nothing, but it’s certainly cool to see your device, in this case an iPhone 4S and an iPad 2, magically spooling characters across the screen. If the beep of each keystroke gets annoying, just use the cursor button to the right of the space bar and the arrow keys to adjust. The same goes for the light-saber-like brightness.

The sleek brushed aluminum cube—about the size of a decent shot glass—is futuristic and simple in aesthetic. The keyboard it emits onto any flat opaque surface will certainly get you some attention if you write in dark places, and spilling a drink over it means only your fingers get sticky. Since it can also optically track finger movements (sticky or not), it also does double-duty as a multi-touch mouse.

At ¥17,000 it’s no bargain (considering washable, flexible silicon ’boards can be had for less than ¥5,000) and it’s quite hard to use on the fly: nobody will be writing reports with it on their commute home. It might win you some bar bets, but it’s certainly not going to increase your productivity (though it might relieve the RSI on your wrists brought on by certain alternatives).

Cool? Hell, yeah. Practical? Not really, but who cares—it’s a laser projection keyboard!

yes

  • Type on any flat surface
  • Looks way cool
  • Easy setup
  • Pairs with almost any Bluetooth-enabled device

no

  • Limited portability: not for train commutes or lap-use
  • Typing definitely takes some getting used to
  • Keyboard is English-Korean or English only
  • Expensive for a novelty item

¥17,000, available from Amazon and Restir in Akasaka (Tel: 03-5413-3708. www.restir.com).

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