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The Future of Keyboards

The Future of Keyboards

What should the future of keyboards look like?

What should the future of keyboards look like?

Computers embody our future. Until recently, technology was slow enough to bottleneck users. That’s no longer the case. Developments in computing power, mobility, and storage speed easily drove the industry forward, resulting in faster machines for decades. Now we’re held back by a lack of human input device innovation — primarily in the field of keyboards.

A Downhill Journey

Keyboards regressed in quality over the last 30 years. Cost cutting and planned obsolescence were the main motivators for its decline, which sacrificed user experience in exchange for profit margins. Keyboards were essentially feature-stagnant, excluding mobile touchscreens and decorative lighting for gamers. Any developments in the mainstream market made keyboards thinner, a decision based on aesthetics and material cost rather than functionality.

Ultra-thin and cheaply constructed keyboards or touchscreens are bearable in some mobile applications, for light work or quick texts, but they fall short during demanding activities. Their limited tactile feedback and compact size result in a burdensome work environment. Flat surfaces like touchscreens are simply better for media consumption than creation.

This is compounded by gut-level knowledge that using a keyboard is much better for certain tasks. People are accustomed to full-travel tactile buttons on tools and musical instruments, and they have been for millennia. Multitasking is also harmed when a screen is resized or partially covered by a keyboard. If keeping your eye on the ball is a priority, touchscreen keyboards are a guaranteed loss.

Frequent desktop activities such as word processing, gaming, and media editing require a full keyboard for optimal performance. Standard mechanical keyboards are an improvement over disposable rubber domes, but a majority still have severe shortcomings — mostly involving versatility and durability. Input Club, a tech-driven keyboard startup, designed a futuristic keyboard to modernize your computing experience and overcome existing limitations.

Meet The Keystone Analog Mechanical Keyboard

The Keystone is expected to provide dramatic long term effects for both productivity and time savings, whether you’re working to hit a deadline or grinding levels in a game. The motivation is obvious — everyone types. Input Club’s new analog switch technology will enable unparalleled macro options and accurate, minute adjustments that would otherwise cost you seconds to perform. Multiplied across thousands of presses a day, every day, the advantage is significant. Saving just 10 minutes per day gives back nearly 8 full days of work by the end of the year — that’s a great metric for management if you need a reason for a new keyboard! Keystone-pioneered features and switches may be in most, if not all, high performance keyboards within the next 5 years due to those performance and efficiency improvements.

Emergent Tech and Features

The Keystone approaches performance, efficiency, and productivity in a revolutionary new way with its Analog Silo switches. Each key determines far and fast it is pressed via magnetic Hall Effect sensors. Input Club uses this data for a special mode that adapts to your typing style, increasing accuracy — an industry first. In addition, multiple macros can be assigned to each key. Holding the key down halfway, or all the way, could output an uppercase letter or a string of commands. This will be particularly useful when computer-based autocomplete becomes popular in the near future, as you won’t need to leave the home row (indicated by bumps on the F and J keys) to select a suggested word.

The Keystone is not limited to letters and keyboard commands. Each key can be assigned to analog control “languages” (APIs) that different applications understand. Think of each Silo switch like a gas pedal or a dimmable light slider in this configuration. Single-key digital brush size adjustment in real time is a possibility. MIDI control for audio professionals, CAD control for engineers, and analog stick-like video game controls will all be accessible with the correct API integrations. The options for productivity and gaming are endless.

Analog Sensing Technology

All Input Club projects operate on Open Source firmware. This allows individuals and companies to customize their devices to suit specific needs. Security, integrity, and flexibility are all vital as the world is digitized. Open Source firmware also allows for regular feature updates and full customization, which isn’t always the case with proprietary software-based control utilities.

Planned obsolescence is also a worthy enemy. With phone manufacturers pushing new models on a yearly basis, and somehow expecting consumers to toss hundreds or thousands of dollars at a new pocket-sized computer each cycle, it is refreshing to design something that can last near-indefinitely. Adapting to a new phone or desktop keyboard takes time. Hall Effect-based Silo switches and their hot-swap capabilities virtually eliminate the need to acclimate each time you get a new computer, as you won’t need a new keyboard.

Finally, contactless hot-swap switches and friendly support are a major platform for improving keyboards. When you buy a product, you should be able to fix it. Especially if it’s going to last.

What Input Club Didn’t Change

Qwerty remains the standard layout for the Keystone. Even so, there are still a few things that Input Club intends to explore with mass-market mechanical keyboards. The easiest efficiency gains would come from alternate layouts, like Colemak or Workman. Qwerty simply has so much momentum that it would take something absurd — like a government mandate — to change.

Mechanical switches and other features commonly found in enthusiast keyboards are vital to The Keystone. Key separation and tactility, or the high-quality bump that you feel when you press a key, help differentiate mechanical keyboards from rubber dome models. Sculpted keycaps also make a huge difference, as they allow for easier touch typing; keeping your eyes on the screen is critical for focus and multitasking.

Pursuing the Ultimate Keyboard

It’s quite likely that you’re questing for the ultimate keyboard. The concept of “endgame” is a shared cultural fantasy — an idea that is forever out of reach. Endgame means different things based on your preferences. Ergonomic twists, edgy flourishes, and odd form factors are often demanded in enthusiast circles.

The Keystone is designed for more than a few forums and niche e-commerce sites. It’s intended to be a new tech platform for all keyboard users. Recognizable keyboard elements like its full-size form factor and Qwerty layout are vital to ensure widespread adoption. This is true for any new concept; fantastic projects of all sorts have failed before because they didn’t recognize and incorporate important norms.

Input Club chose to make The Keystone accessible outside the keyboard community for one reason and one reason only: a desire to share. The big forums vigorously pursue a better computing experience. Many of their members would love to pass along typing bliss to the rest of the world, but they don’t always have opportunities to do so.

The Keystone may not be your endgame keyboard, but it will introduce the endgame keyboard technology - Hall Effect Analog Silo switches. It is also the keyboard community’s best shot at changing the future of input. Join Input Club’s waitlist on Kono Store if you would like to track the project.

Launching soon on Kickstarter!

Keystone Mechanical Keyboard

  • Programmable Macros
  • Analog Hall Effect Magnetic Switches
  • Estimated 1 Billion Press Lifespan
  • Full RGB Backlighting
  • Hot Swap Switches (Linear, Clicky, Tactile)
  • Cherry Compatible Keycaps

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