Tokyo-based company Minebea will release a keyless, touch-panel keyboard dubbed the COOL LEAF in Japan in mid-May.
Simply put, the device has a mirror-like surface with non-physical buttons. Inside the structure sits an electrostatic touch panel installed above force sensors, with a backlight at the bottom to illuminate the characters.
The lack of actual square keys will certainly make the device easier to clean—if, say, crumbs or liquids are spilled on it—than traditional alternatives, a point that Minebea is proud to promote. Thus, the Japanese company may have also inadvertently stumbled upon the world’s first plate-keyboard, since, well, why not use the thing to also hold your meal? The COOL LEAF is going to run about $245, so you might as well get your money's worth.
It looks to be available only as an import for the immediate future, so that MSRP could rise even higher.—Devin Chanda