New shirt or cloth keyboard?

UK startup ElectroTextiles has demonstrated a keyboard made out of a soft, water-resistant cloth--something the company claims could be a breakthrough for mobile computing and text messaging.

LONDON (ZDNet UK)--UK startup ElectroTextiles has demonstrated a keyboard made out of a soft, water-resistant cloth--something the company claims could be a breakthrough for mobile computing and text messaging.

The fabric, called ElekTex, can receive and transmit electronic impulses without wiring or circuitry, and it can be folded and put into a pocket. The cloth construction also means that it is lightweight -- 28g -- and damage-resistant.

"People's first impressions are, 'Whoa, it's fabric, it must be a little flimsy.' But it's very durable," ElectroTextiles co-founder Chris Chapman told journalists.

The keyboard, initially for handheld computers, had its preview at the New York Museum of Modern Art and the IT Expo in France this week, and will be on sale by the end of the year.

ElectroTextiles is planning a mobile phone handset that can be squashed and dropped, and a car seat that automatically adjusts to fit its occupant. The company is based at Pinewood Studios, outside of London.

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