25/07/2001 They may not be the sexiest computer peripheral, but keyboards define a surprisingly large amount of how we use computers. They limit how far you can shrink a portable, take up huge amounts of desk space, and have an annoying tendency to collect coffee, dust and sandwich crumbs. That may all change. UK company ElectroTextiles has produced and demonstrated a cloth keyboard. You can scrunch it up, wash it, roll it up and stick it in your pocket, perch it precariously on your thigh, and it still works. It's all built around a fabric with interwoven conductive fibres; the clever stuff is the technology that turns changes in their conductivity into a signal corresponding to the place it's been pressed. It's fun to think of this being combined with light-emitting fabrics; a cuddly toy that reacts as you squeeze it, clothes that change colour to delicately shade one's beer belly in the most sympathetic way possible as it strains against the confines of your shirt, even active underpants. Truly, we are on the edge of a revolution.