INKO is part capacitive cover, part keyboard and a whole lot of awesome.
If you’re the owner of an iPad and have long been searching for a cover that offered a bit more functionality, you’re in luck. Designed by Alexandre Echasseriau, INKO is both a capacitive cover and a keyboard. The device is comprised of conductive paint injected into a leather sleeve that is capable of transmitting a signal from the keyboard to the iPad via a mini Bluetooth antenna.
Unveiled earlier this spring at the 2015 Saint Etienne Biennale, INKO combines fine leather craftsmanship along with Bare Conductive’s Electric Paint and Touch Board (ATmega32U4) to transform an ordinary protective shield into a working touchpad. The idea was first conceived as a way to incorporate a printed circuit board within the hide in order to establish an electrical connection that could relay a signal to its accompanying mobile device.
Initially, tattoo artist Jéremy Lorenzato was tasked with injecting the Electric Paint into the thickness of the material. However, after determining that manually inking the hide was not suitable for the project, the process was eventually replaced by a system dubbed “Tatoué,” the brainchild of French design group Appropriate Audiences. (You may recall the team and their hacked machine from last year.) The Maker trio had modded a MakerBot Replicator to create an automated tattoo “printer” that could etch permanent artwork on human skin, and now leather as well.
Meanwhile, the actual shape of the cover/keyboard was formed in a matter of just one step by leather worker David Rosenblum by employing an embossing technique to achieve that “keystroke” feel.
“I really wanted to explore the potential of Electric Paint. Tattooing the paint rather than screen printing or painting opened up an opportunity to create a sustainable and robust PCB circuit,” Echasseriau told Bare Conductive in a recent interview. “The luck was that after a little dilution, the paint could be perfectly tattooed and conducts very well.”
Intrigued? Head over to INKO’s official page here.