One of the few complaints iPhone and iPad users have is that there is no tangible keyboard. We’re constantly watching as we type in case our adult-sized fingers accidentally hit one of the minuscule keys by mistake and spell “duck” (come on; we’ve all done it!).
Phorm, the first product by Tactus Technology, is an iPad Mini case that allows physical keyboard keys to appear and disappear as you need them. Using new technology, Phorm is the first case of its kind and will provide revolutionary spelling abilities (we hope). Without compromising the usability of your iPad Mini, Phorm is sleek like a durable case whilst massively improving your typing experience. Additionally, it doesn’t distort the visuals so you can carry on using your device without distraction.
The science behind Phorm seems quite simple. The screen protector portion of the case is a microfluidic panel. Between the layers are vein-like channels and, when the switch is in the “on” position and provides pressure, they move a non-toxic and non-flammable fluid to dedicated pockets creating bumps. These bumps have an elastic top layer that allows the fluid to pool forming the buttons. Amazingly, the phone retains the use of touch screen through the fluid.
The best part? Phorm is electronic-free which means no charging, and no batteries. Users simply slide a large switch on the back of the case to activate the fluid.
Tactus teamed up with Ammunition, the original designers of Beats, to perfect this new technology. Phorm has three pieces to create this revolutionary device. There’s the back cover which contains a switch, a thin middle screen protector which is where the magic happens, and a front ring that snaps into place and holds it all together.
Phorm is available for the iPad Mini with the iPhone 6 Plus on deck. The creators have been in talks with phone manufacturers, although they won’t mention who, to put their technology into the device rather than just a case. For now, Phorm is only designed as a case for portrait mode while landscape mode will be added to the repertoire on later versions.
However, as Darrell Etherington from TechCrunch explains, the Phorm case provides so much for a great value. At just $99 (£65) the device is a durable phone case and a screen protector in addition to providing the “major feature” of a tangible keyboard. For that price, Phorm is worth it.
Bonnie Cha of Recode was able to get her hands on Phorm. Despite the innovation at hand, literally, Cha says that Phorm seemed to take a few seconds to properly complete the process of adding the keys and taking them away. Although we’re dealing with new technology and delays like this can often be expected, co-founder Craig Ciesla says that they’ve been constantly upgrading their prototypes and the devices that have been pre-ordered will have increased speed.
Shipping in summer 2015, Phorm can be pre-ordered for $99 if ordered by March 15th. After that, the price will increase to $149. Colours available are Slate Gray and Sky Gray. A waitlist has been set up to get Phorm for the iPhone 6 Plus. Unfortunately, Phorm is currently only available for shipping in the USA.