Paranoid about spilling food or drinks on your computer or keyboard? You can always not eat at your desk, but back here in reality, a more complicated solution is to build yourself a cup wrapped in a working version of Google’s mobile Gboard keyboard. After all, if the keyboard is already in hand while you’re drinking, how can you possibly spill on it? Logic: 1, fried electronics: 0.
The Gboard Yunomi (a form of Japanese teacup that’s tall and slender) is believed to be an April Fool’s Day prank cooked up by Google Japan last year. It was never actually revealed due to the global pandemic that was well under way by the time April 1 rolled around. Google has since kept its April 1 pranks tabled (and hopefully that will continue into 2022), but Google Japan apparently thought that this creation was too clever to keep a secret, so it was revealed last week in time for the country’s Grand Kitano Tea Ceremony.
Two types of custom PCBs were created for the cylindrical keyboard, which acts as a sort of extra-functional drink koozie (minus the insulating capabilities). There are 12 longer strips that the actual keys attach to, and a hexagonal base where you’ll find a ATmega32U4-AU microcontroller that makes the whole thing work. Google has no intentions of mass producing and selling this creation, but it has made the firmware, build instructions, and other plans available for download on GitHub for anyone who wants to go to the trouble of making their own.
Given it was created by Google Japan, the Gboard Yunomi features keys with Japanese characters on it, but customising it to other alphabets should be relatively easy. The hard part is learning to effectively type on this thing. Even if you’re able to more or less preserve the QWERTY layout, wrapping your brain around how to type with all the keys positioned vertically will be challenge. If you’re so worried about spilling, might I suggest wearing one of those Camelbak hydration packs and sipping your morning coffee or afternoon tea through a straw.