American Idol host Ryan Seacrest has invested a million dollars in a company that plans to sell slip-on physical keyboards for the iPhone.
As well as funding the company, Seacrest is the co-founder alongside Laurence Hallier, chief of tech marketing firm Show Media. It’s reported that the company plans to raise $5 million to get up and running.
The case is known as the “Typo” which doesn’t entirely fill you with confidence that it will work accurately, though it’s actually a dig at the limitations of typing on the iPhone’s on-screen keyboard. The company claims that testers report they can type 50 percent faster with the physical keyboard but still make fewer typos.
It’s hard to tell how much of this is simply great marketing hype, but the company even has a story about the origins of the business. Supposedly Seacrest was out to dinner with Hallier and they wound up with four handsets on the table, with both men noting they use an iPhone for almost everything except typing e-mails; with cost not exactly a problem, they each have a BlackBerry just for typing.
Their solution looks simple enough to use: you just slide it on in two pieces, then pair it to the phone via Bluetooth. It looks from the design that the gadget will also act as a protective bumper-style case, though the marketing doesn’t make any claims in that direction. That could be problematic if it doesn’t offer as much protection as a dedicated case.
The device is said to add 3/4 of an inch in length and 1/4 of an inch in thickness to the phone, with the keyboard powered by a tiny Lithium-ion batter rather than relying on the phone battery.
The case covers the iPhone’s home button, though that’s replaced by a small key to the bottom right of the keypad. You’ll also need to remove the case to access the fingerprint scanner on the 5S.
The company is now taking pre-orders for the iPhone 5 and 5S. It’s clearly marketed at business users, or at least those with cash to spare, as it costs $99.