Keyboard Builders' Digest
5% off of Invokeys' tasty switches!
Keyboard Builders' Digest / Projects

GrabShell

GrabShell by dotBravo is a pretty unique wireless folding keyboard optimized for handheld use.

KBD.news
Published May 12, 2023
Creators! Feel free to tip me off about your keyboard related projects to bring them to 100K readers.

The GrabShell, conceptualized by software dev Matsu at dotBravo, a Japanese company developing various gadgets and software solutions, was optimized for handheld use while wandering around in the office. Originally called the "Transforming Keyboard Project", it is also possible to use this versatile device on a desk both vertically and spread out, but the characteristic straps of the device are telling about its origin.

As strange and alien as this physical layout may seem, the GrabShell bears the marks of some familiar projects featured earlier: when held vertically, it has a certain TypeSafe vibe (with its many derivatives here and here, or here), and we could name the Clavert and Squeezebox as well. The folding part is reminiscent of Ikeji's Pittheus, and the whole story that of the Glove80: the dotBravo guys are developers and inventors as well who originally made this keyboard for themselves, based on their own needs. However, similarly to the MoErgo team, they didn't stop at the prototype phase and after years of work they bring a ready-made product to the market.

Pic: GrabShell prototypes (photo by @sumahomaho)

GrabShell prototypes (photo by @sumahomaho)

The GrabShell is in preorder phase right now, the website is full of nice renders, but I wouldn't write about it if it were a mere concept. Luckily, while starting the manufacturing of the first 1,000-item batch is imminent, the designers decided to hold a demonstration event in Tokyo (May 7-8, b8ta Tokyo - Yurakucho), where @sumahomaho shot some photos and videos of this keyboard in action:

Although the exhibited specimen were prototypes which differ in many aspects from the final version, most notably the separable halves:

Some of the prototypes that were displayed were split, but the production models are not split and cannot be separated into left and right halves – dotBravo.

As you can see, the GrabShell is not for laymen: in its closed position the alphas are on the backside so being able to touch type is pretty essential. However, I'm sure this isn't something which should deter any kbd.news reader. Even if you don't touch type yet, the folding mechanism of the wings makes it possible to spread out the semi-split halves on a flat surface and use it in a more classic way.

Pic:

On the front side (or in the middle when spread out) there are various pointing devices: joystick, trackball, horizontal encoder, which are essential for mobile use, when you just don't want to reach for a mouse all the time.

Furthermore, the folks at dotBravo think their design is revolutionary in the sense it may transform our working habits. By not being bound to our desk and chair, complemented by AR glasses or other gadgets, the GrabShell may indeed bring new possibilities. For this very reason, dotBravo teamed up with another tech company, Nreal, and at their recent demo visitors could try the GrabShell combined with Nreal's Air glasses. This combo allows you to type and also to see the display in any posture:

If you are interested, grab your shell (preorder) at grabshell.io for the introductory price of 300 USD. Thanks to international coverage, 1,000 units were booked in just 30 minutes from the start of the pre-order, so expect some waiting time I guess.

Specs

  • 74(?) keys: 2x23 MX compatible (back/wings) + 18 MX + 10 low-profile (front) switches.
  • joystick, trackball, encoder, toggle switch
  • wireless (2000mAh battery)
  • Programmable (QMK?)
  • Windows/Mac compatible
  • Dimensions: 220x160x40-90mm (closed) or 490x240x18-48mm (spread out)
  • Weight: 950g

As I was told, the dotBravo team is heading to China to make some final decisions and oversee the manufacturing process starting next week, so there are some open questions regarding the product specifications at this time. I'll update the list once these details have been finalized.

Resources

Do you like this post? Share, donate, subscribe, tip me off!

Published on Fri 12th May 2023. Featured in KBD #122.


Related

Dactyl Manuform Skeleton Edition

This Dactyl Manuform Skeleton Edition by atsuyuki features custom supports (git, blog, twitter). Posted by Smeeba.

Juriform36

Shared by Jurica Bacurin, the juriform36 is a 36-key wireless split keyboard with keywell.

MagWave44

DreaM117er shared his MagWave44, a Dactyl Skeleton derivative ergo split with magnetic tenting.

3D printed ergo with arrow keys

A beautiful handwired split ergonomic keyboard. 3D printed, has dedicated arrow keys, wrist rest, and features one-key PCBs. Committed by tomohisat.

Testamatta #011

Nakamura Hideki announced the testamatta #011, a nice low-pro unibody angled split keyboard.

Ximi prototype

Ximi is a split keyboard prototype with dual trackball/trackpad support – by Sadek Baroudi.

×
top