tagtype Garage Kit

Gamepad-like keyboard acquired by MoMA as a permanent collection, 2004

“tagtype” is a Japanese input device. The Japanese language is made of fifty syllabic characters that can be written on a matrix of ten consonants multiplied by five vowels. tagtype is designed with two rows of five buttons, a total of ten buttons that can be alternately pushed to specify the rows and columns of the fifty character matrix. When compared to the QWERTY keyboard, this formula makes typing in Japanese easier and intuitive. The input method in tagtype was used by SONY and Benesse Corporation in their commercial products.

BACKGROUND: The limit of existing keyboards

The keyboard was first designed for professional typists who worked in the office environments of the Western countries. As such, they are made so that a person can type by sitting at a desk and moving ten fingers on a keyboard. However, user experience and situations have diversified with the arrival of the internet and the personal computer. Keyboards, which until now, had been acknowledged as the universal interface, has become inadequate and insufficient for the various needs and situations that have sprung from the advancement of technology. “tagtype” is a product that suggests a new solution to such a challenge.

APPROACH: Integrating hardware, software, and design

“tagtype” is a working prototype that has been developed using the knowledge in both software and hardware. It was created with the intention of being commercialized in a short period of time. In order to contrive a highly marketable device, tagtype was designed so that anyone, including handicapped people, can easily assemble and customize the product.

The affinity between hardware/software and design/engineering greatly affect the usability in an input device. tagtype became a beautiful, functionally advanced device through the efforts of Shunji Yamanaka (Leading Edge Design), Kinya Tagawa (Takram design engineering), and Jun Homma (FLX Style).

OUTCOME: Achieving superbly intuitive operability; selected as part of MoMA’s permanent collection

If the traditional keyboard is a car with manual transmission, then “tagtype” comes with automatic transmission. While traditional keyboards require hours of practice before one becomes familiar with it, tagtype can be used immediately and without much practice. In order to achieve a high-quality product, prototypes were created to include not only the exterior hardware but also the interior circuits. tagtype integrates hardware and software and is designed to be operated in any position without having to sit at a desk. tagtype was selected to be part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for its high quality and pioneering spirit.


Project Lead: Kinya Tagawa (Takram)
Product Design: Shunji Yamanaka (Leading Edge Design)
Software Design: Jun Homma (FLX Style)
Photograph: Yukio Shimizu


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