Qii will work with Apple, Android, Blackberry, Windows and Palm phones and tablets.
Pledge as little as 5$ to support Qii, as little as 99$ for a "Basic" Qii (with a QWERTY keyboard but no pointer on the case) and as little as 120$ for the first to order a "Standard" Qii (with a QWERTY keyboard and a pointer on the case).
See how Crowdfunding works at the end of this section.
Introduction to the Qii Concept
We’d like to introduce to you a new concept we call “Qii”. Qii is the world’s first, truly mobile, rollable touch accessory. It’s based on a flexible touch sensor that allows you to turn virtually any surface, soft or hard, flat or curved, into a full functionality user interface for your computer or your mobile device such as your tablet or, especially, your smartphone. And that turns your smartphone into a portable and usable pocket computer. With Qii and your imagination, any surface can be effectively turned into a touch surface and any “dumb” object can be turned into a “smart” object. Nanotechnology and organic electronics make it possible. The idea is simple, but the applications are endless. We've established the company Roll-Qi, Inc to get this idea to market.
The Qii Computer Keyboard, our first product:
As our first Qii product, we’re offering a full QWERTY computer keyboard, including a number pad and function keys, wirelessly connected to your smartphone or tablet. Because its ultra thin and flexible, Qii is both full sized and pocket sized, so you’ll be able to effortlessly type and surf anywhere you go, be it in a café, the woods, or a car, train, bus or plane.
Qii has an anti fingerprint coating to keep it clean and a textured surface for easy touch typing. It’s dirt and water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about spilling and it’s easily washable with soap and water. And, since Qii’s rollable electronics are printed, it’s tough.
Qii’s case is also a touchpad, allowing you to point, tap and scroll for easy surfing and graphical editing (NOTE! We've now introduced a "Basic" Qii model without this function for our more cost conscious supporters). You can use Qii on most any surface, so you can check your email on your friend’s belly, update your Facebook on your pet, or write your next novel on your pillow.
Some keyboards claim to be rollable, but you can’t roll them up and fit them in your pocket. We use a new kind of flexible transparent electronic film together with a new kind of touch sensing technology that can sense both position and force to create a compact and portable and programmable touch surface.
While designing Qii, we intended to create a minimalist and fashionable product that seamlessly blends into everyday life. Qii has a stylish case and a striking transparent touch surface. You can use the full keyboard if you want, which has number and function keys, or, if you don’t need it, you can roll it out only partially, to access only the basic keys, like letters, spaces and commands.
Our team has been working for years with our partners to bring Qii to life. Together we have developed new carbon based nanomaterials, new dry printing manufacturing techniques and now new, ultra-high transparency, flexible, bendable, stretchable, rollable and foldable touch technologies and unique touch algorithms to make Qii possible. It starts with our flexible, transparent, electrically conductive film made with a new carbon nanomaterial connected to state-of-the art sensing electronics to make a flexible, transparent touch sensing surface that determines both your finger’s position and force.
We’ll introduce the Qii in pliable hard coated plastic, but, in the future, the sensor can be printed on most anything, even paper, rubber or fabric. Today we have a functioning table-top demo and we are making the electronics palm sized. The touch sensor that you see in the lab is a real, working prototype. Starting from this, we now want to complete the design and manufacture a smooth wireless device that you link to your smartphone via Bluetooth.
The Work to Do
So you see, while the general concepts have been proven, we need to still do quite a bit of work before we enter production and deliver to you. In practice, this means refining our new touch technology and doing the final design, electrical and mechanical engineering to further slim down the electronics, test and optimize performance, and nicely package the whole thing in an elegant rollable case to really show off its absolute coolness and convenience. The most critical (and time consuming and costly) item on our to-do list is to design and source the dedicated chip running our touch algorithm. With your help, we can get this done and bring a Qii into your pocket.
Among other things, your pledge and support will help us:
1. Make a detailed technical product definition
2. Establish our customer service program
3. Choose our design partners
4. Make our next generation product concept design and proofs of concept
5. Refine the touch algorithm and software
6. Finalize, electrical mechanical software, manufacturing and test designs
7. Source our critical components (the dedicated chip being most critical)
8. Choose our contract manufacturer
9. Purchase our components
10. Design, order and make tooling for our sensor and device production
11. Make our final sensor and device prototypes
12. Iterate, test and verify our prototypes and production lines
13. Obtain our global bluetooth certification
14. Deliver beautiful, tested, stylish and useful Qii’s to you
Qii will work with Apple, Android, Blackberry, Windows and Palm phones and tablets according to each platform’s available QWERTY keyboard and pointer standards. Setting up Qii will be as easy as downloading the Qii app onto your smartphone or tablet. All software updates will be wirelessly transmitted to your Qii.
Each Qii will have a stylish case in a selection of colors, a rollable, flexible ultra-high transparency touch sensor film with the QWERTY keyboard app and a USB compatible charger. But, for certain pledges, you'll become part of the design process. We’ll be making improvements to Qii, including new color options and new apps, according to your input.
For the Qii cases, two color options are already set: black and white. But, if you back the “My Color” pledge, we'll send you a survey when the project in funded asking you to vote for your favorite color. If your choice is one of the top two, we’ll send you a Qii in that color. If not, we’ll send you a follow-up questionnaire to choose from the winning colors.
Nanotechnology may make Qii possible, but its apps that bring Qii to life. Qii is infinitely customizable, with unlimited possibilities for downloadable interfaces and useful apps, allowing you use any surface as a touch surface, including your existing computer display, car dashboard, couch arm rest or even your significant other.
We may be offering the QWERTY keyboard first, but Qii is fully programmable and, for certain contributors, that’s just what we’ll do. With your input, we'll be building an amazing new app for Qii. What will it be? We don’t know yet.
Qii can become a musical instrument, an armchair mouse, a drawing pad, a control panel, a gaming controller or a body energy field guide. The uses are limited only by imagination. For instance, musicians could use Qii as xylophone or drum kit. Artist can use it as a drawing or painting pad. If you're a gamer, you could bring Qii onto your laptop display to turn it into a touch screen or separately as a unique gaming console. With the “My App” pledge, we’ll send you a survey asking you for new Qii app ideas. Our personal favorite is the 89 key piano keyboard (it goes to 11), but we’re open to your ideas as well. Want your table to become a teaching tool for your nephew Want to turn the arm of your recliner into a guitar? Want a massage pad instead of a bongo? Maybe you're itching to turn your front door into a sounding board or a questionnaire. Qii can transform any passive surface into an active and interactive surface so think touch and interaction everywhere and anywhere.
RISKS AND CHALLENGES
We have world class expertise on sensor hardware and algorithms, nanotechnologies and electronics prototyping. We see minimal technical risk to complete this project and deliver a working device. All the basic technology has been demonstrated and mock-ups and demos have been produced. But now these must now be refined and made manufacturable. We have been through this before and we know the challenges. We see the following risks ranked from high to low:
Shrinking the electronics smalls enough:
By far, the biggest risk we face is the ability to reduce the size of our sensor driving and sensing module. We do not have the in-house expertise to get this done alone, but we do have much expertise in partnering with manufacturers to get this done with us. In the worst case, we will make the “electronics box” a bit bigger based on a more incremental improvement of our current system. Thus, even if it all goes wrong, we will still be able to deliver a slightly larger version of the product.
Finalizing the algorithm for the keyboard:
The current algorithm has been proven for low aspect ratio form factors (2:1 aspect ratio rectangular sensors), but needs to be modified for higher aspect ratios as in the roll-out keyboard (approximate 10:1). We see little risk, but there are possibilities for glitches which we’ll have to work through.
Getting the internal interfaces to perform reliably:
This product has moving and bending electronic interfaces to transmit power and information inside the device. The mechanics involved are minimal, but there may be certain interfaces (e.g. rotating or flexible connections) that will likely require multiple iterations to perform reliably. We may still have to do some inventing!
Finding a matching manufacturing partner:
We have much experience cooperating with OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) worldwide to arrange production, managing small and large consumer electronics projects, introducing new products to market and organizing distribution. We know the time and costs involved with all these activities. We have made our best estimates of what it will take to get this new product to market at the lowest price and fastest pace. We have no illusions of the challenges involved. This is why we have set the funding threshold so high. Even so, in order to stay in our budget, we will need a low cost and experienced manufacturing partner who is also willing to do a relatively low volume first production run. However, we feel this project/product is simple enough and interesting enough to have multiple bidders (assuming we reach a critical mass of orders). By the way, the bigger the project becomes, the easier it will be to make our manufacturing deal.
Adapting to variations in Bluetooth standards:
The Bluetooth "standard" for keyboard interfaces is not 100% standard. We realize that there will be tweaks and adjustments for each platform and so there may be unexpected problems once the product is in your hands. But, we’ll be getting your feedback and upgrading the software continually to make sure the glitches are minimized.
Noise (e.g. electromagnetic interference / antenna effects):
Different environments have different electromagnetic backgrounds which may alter the sensor performance. As above, there may be unexpected problems once the product is in your hands and in your environment. Even the biggest brand names experience such issues in the field. As above, we’ll be using your feedback make sure any such problems are fixed ASAP.
Delivering the “Your App” reward:
We have our own preliminary opinion of what “Your App” could be and we know how we’d do it, but we want to get real customer pull to see if there is a better, cooler or more in-demand option. As we don’t know what it might be, we can’t yet guarantee we can do it. We’ll need your input and understanding so our abilities and your expectations are matched.
*How crowdfunding works:
1) Fundseekers (we) submit a project (the Qii) with a description, the funding target, the time to reach the funding target (the time limit) and the various available pledges and perks on the crowdfunding site (in this case www.indiegogo.com/Qii )
2) Individuals (you) pledge amounts to the project for specific perks (for instance a black or white Qii keyboard)
3) If sufficient funding is pledged in the specified funding period, the fundseeker produces and ships out the perks
4) Nothing happens (i.e. the project is not started) unless there is sufficient funding (the funding target) pledged in sufficient time (the time limit)
5) If you pledge and the funding target is not reached in the time limit, the pledge is immediately returned to you and the perks are not produced or shipped.
6) If you pledge and the target funding is reached in the given time, then we work our butts off to make sure you get your perk within its target delivery date