Web-gathered backers shower inventor of TouchFire silicone iPad keyboard with over $200,000 (with video)

“Even if you love the iPad, you’re probably not keen to write your next novel using its on-screen virtual keyboard. You may not be thrilled to type up a lengthy email with it, either,” Rachel Metz reports for The Associated Press.

“Steve Isaac felt the same way. So the Seattle-based software designer got to work on a way to make the iPad easier to type on,” Metz reports. “Using a stretchy silicone, he invented a keyboard that sits atop the tablet’s on-screen keyboard when the device is turned on its side.”

Metz reports, “He called it, TouchFire… His invention has garnered intense support on Kickstarter — a website where entrepreneurs and artists solicit funding for their projects and often give rewards in exchange, such as a limited-edition poster or first version of a product. In Isaac’s case, he turned to the site to raise money to transform his prototype into a real device, offering the first run of TouchFires to Kickstarter backers. His effort raised $201,400 by the time it ended last week. That was more than 20 times the $10,000 that he and his business partner had hoped to snag.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. Kickstarter is a great idea. I wish the Vikings would use it to raise money for the new stadium they want. Supporters could pay what they want. Those of us who don’t care about them wouldn’t have to be taxed for the privilege of having them here.

  2. Ni knock on this product, a very similar keyboard was financed through kickstarter a few months ago and is almost to the point of shipping. Look for ikeyboard. I funded this through kickstarter but haven’t received it yet so can’t tell you more than that.

  3. Maybe I’m missing something. How is typing on a tiny silicon keyboard any better than typing on a tiny glass keyboard? Obviously it’s going to feel different, but if you’re a fast typist (as are the people in the video), you’re not looking at the keys anyway, so it really shouldn’t make a difference.

    If someone’s used something like this, can you explain the real-world difference.

    (By the way, I agree — Kickstarter rocks. Venture capital for the rest of us.)

    1. I don’t know what i’m missing, but I can’t figure out how YOU can’t figure out why that would be a good idea for some people. It’s tactile feedback. It’s about not looking at the keyboard and getting your bearings without looking. The same reason there are nubs on the “f” and “J” and “5” keys on my full-size USB Apple Keyboard.

      Now I can’t figure out why I bothered to comment…

      1. Bunsen – no need to get snarky, I honestly wasn’t sure. And as for the nubs on the “f”, “j” and “5,” I never notice them (at least not consciously) in my daily work.

        Predrag – Thanks for your more helpful note. I hadn’t thought of the “resting fingers” issue (which I do all the time). You’re right — this could make a huge difference…

    2. The main problem with a touchscreen keyboard is that the moment you touch it, it types. Touch-typists (those who don’t look at their keyboard while typing) must be able to lightly rest the tips of their fingers on the keys in order to maintain positional awareness. With physical silicone keyboard, you can do that without triggering the keys. There’s your difference.

      1. I know what you’re saying, but none of the people typing in that short video touched the keytops, except to punch them. Perhaps they could use you to direct the next video to make sure they get some actual touch-typists who rest their fingertips on the keys.

        1. Also, these keys make the picture under them look superblurry so barely see the key that you type. And since there are three standard types of keyboards to display, you have to remember that only one is going to fit this silicone keyboard. You have to pull it off every time you switch to other keyboards.

      1. Once again, Predrag hits the nail on he head. If you have to hover your hands over the keyboard without actually touching the keys until you want to activate a letter… Then you DO NOT have a tactile keyboard. Idea looks great until you see the hovering hands. I can’t see the difference between this and typing on the original virtual keyboard… Except you have some type of a “cushion” on each keystroke. For the person talking about the nubs on the ‘F’, and ‘J’ key… These only work if you can feel them with your fingers BEFORE activating the keystroke.

  4. I hate touchscreens, that’s while I have a blackberry and that’s why I’ll never by an iPad or any other xPad type device. That said, if this silicon keyboard gives the feel of a real keyboard, then I might consider buying an iPad someday.

    And by the way, what a great idea! I wish I had thought of it…

    1. Just curious – are you a speed typer on a regular keyboard? I think the success of a virtual keyboard lays largely in the muscle memory of knowing where the keys are relative to each other, rather than their physical presence in the real world. I get along just fine with the on-screen keyboards. Sometimes after I’ve typed something, I’ll think back and realize that I pressed certain keys without even thinking about it… very cool.

  5. I can type as fast on the virtual keyboard as on any physical keyboard. I’m with Steve on this one. I think any physical keyboard is completely and unnecessarily redundant.

    1. No offense intended but im guessing you don’t type fast on either one.

      I can’t type fast on any touch screen. Give one of the old MS Natural keyboards and I can crack out 92 wpm without much effort. I can do about 80 on a regular keyboard.

      Cool idea these guys have

  6. Tactile or not, IMO the iPad’s onscreen keyboard is seriously comprised. Without arrow keys to move the cursor one character at a time even minor editing is frustrating. I find the auto correct feature to be aggravating as well.


  7. First, we have the standard push key stroke typewriter…Then we evolved.
    Then, we had the Electric Typewriter…Then we evolved.
    Then, we had the IBM Selectric UniBall Typewriter…Then we evolved.
    Then, we had the Personal Computer Keyboard…Then we evolved.
    Then, we had the Expanding Vee Shaped Ergonomic Wave Keyboard…Then we evolved.
    Then, we had the Chicklet Cellphone keys for “texting”…Then we evolved.
    Today we have the iPhone & iPad Virtual Keyboard via MultiTouch glass screen….Um… were stuck & we cannot figure out how to type on this keyboard…Whaaaa…Please people, just evolve, get used to it as this is the future.

    Evolve or Die.

  8. I have to say, I love the “feel” of my Apple aluminum full size keyboard, even though I have this silly cable to deal with. The wireless one from Apple feels good also, and I probably cruise along at about 80-90wpm (haven’t checked in a while though LOL). Since switching to this aluminum version a few years back (when they came out basically), all other keyboards feel like crap to me. As for typing on the iPad, well, this TouchFire skin looks very interesting to me… If the price is reasonable (haven’t looked yet) I’ll probably get one to try. As for the keyboard nubs, well I do use them a bit, but mostly I align my hands using my thumbs and pinkie fingers without thinking about it much… had to check just now to see what I actually do LOL. Too many years in front of the screen and keyboard 🙂

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