Windows 8’s gesture support will be lost on most desktop users, especially if their systems lack touchscreens. However, Japanese firm Elecon has developed a wireless keyboard whose numpad doubles as as a touchpad. With the flick of a switch, the touch-sensitive numpad turns into a gesture-aware tracking area.
The official product page is in Japanese, but the list of supported gestures needs no translation. There are 13 gestures in total, including pinch zooming, two-finger tapping, and swiping with up to three fingers. As far as I can tell, the gestures mimic what’s available in touchpad-equipped Windows 8 notebooks.
Like the keyboards on those notebooks, Elecom’s design uses an array of chiclet-style keys. Also like notebooks, the paging block has been dropped in favor of a more compact layout. The 19-mm key pitch (the distance between the center of each key) suggests that the QWERTY area hasn’t been subjected to shrinkage, though.
A 2.4GHz wireless connection links the keyboard to the host PC, while power is provided by a pair of AA or AAA batteries. As long as you’re not setting the thing down on a magnetic surface, the range is supposed to be about 33 feet. That’s more than enough distance for home-theater PCs, which might be a good fit for Windows 8’s Modern UI.
While it’s unclear whether the keyboard is coming to North America, VR-Zone says Japanese customers will be able to pick one up next month for the equivalent of $107. That’s a little pricey given the apparent lack of fancy key switches, but I’m sure this won’t be the last desktop keyboard to feature a gesture area.