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Is it time to reconsider the keyboard pants?

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As pro tablets supersede laptops, they create a need for more inventive keyboard designs

Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become the go-to destinations for quirky, weird, and sometimes plain daft gadget ideas, but we used to have those even before crowdfunding was a thing. One of my favorites has always been the concept of keyboard jeans, first presented by Dutch design student Eric De Nijs back in 2008. Eric's idea was rather self-explanatory: integrate a full QWERTY keyboard into a set of hard-wearing jeans and include a nice big rear pocket to tote a mouse around as well.

In its day, the keyboard pants idea was entertaining, but mostly found itself the victim of jokes about its impracticality and self-evident social awkwardness. I don't think any of that has changed today, but it's fascinating to consider it in the context of modern mobile technology.

keyboard pants

Take a look at the 2008 example of how a person would use keyboard pants: it involves a rather large laptop and a not terribly convenient mouse. Both work to defeat the purpose of integrating keyboard buttons into one's trousers. But today we have tablets, really amazingly good tablets, and the one thing none of them seem able to live without anymore is a keyboard. Everyone's got a tablet with a keyboard, whether it's the Pixel C from Google, the Surface Pro from Microsoft, or the iPad Pro from Apple. Wireless technologies have also evolved, with Bluetooth Low Energy making it possible to keep, for example, a smartwatch constantly tethered to your smartphone.

The social awkwardness hasn't diminished, but mobile tech has changed

Back in 2008, we could barely keep a 3G smartphone going for a full day. Now we have phones with 4G lasting for as long as two days without resembling the bricks of yesteryear. So, with all the power, connectivity, and mobility we now have from our core devices, isn't it time to reconsider the viability of quirky peripherals that can go with them? Maybe you wouldn't use keyboard pants right away. Maybe the social stigma will have to be broken by an iconoclast like Kanye West or, I don't know, MC Hammer. But once you get past how they look, wouldn't the functionality of them actually be pretty cool?

I can totally imagine myself taking notes on a keyboard of this kind, maybe even without a screen, for the maximum pro typist kudos. The cool part is that if the keyboard is built into your pants, you don't have to balance a straight plank on your lap. And maybe that's more ergonomic. Or maybe I'm completely overthinking this entire thing.

keyboard pants