The fast-food industry are always working on ways to promote their wares and one way they have always used is the “tray-mat” which is a sheet of paper with promotional material printed on it that is placed on the serving trays. In some cases, especially with McDonalds, this is also used as part of a sweepstakes or competition where you can win prizes and, of course, these end up as a take-home collectable or souvenir.
But the KFC franchises in Germany have taken this further by integrating a Bluetooth keyboard in one of these tray-mats. Here, they pitch the idea of keeping your greasy fingers off the smartphone screen while you type out replies to SMS, social-media or other messages. This exploits the standard Bluetooth HID Device Profile supported by the mobile operating systems and pairs with the host device when powered on.
Do I see this as being more than a promotional gimmick or toy? It can be an alternative to various’”laser-projector” ideas that project the keyboard to a surface like a table or desk and could have appeal for wherever you have to enter text in a dirty environment. It is also a way to prove that Bluetooth can be integrated in paper, flexible plastic, cloth and similar materials and can be implemented with these materials as a human interface device.
In this context, the flexible Bluetooth keyboard could work well as a “roll-up” keyboard or as part of a loose-leaf folder system whether as a binder, divider or a leaf. Use of different layouts could come in handy like a piano keyboard for music input or a group of buttons that work with particular apps.