Mechanical keyboard specialist Das Keyboard is thinking outside the box with its next product. Currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, the Das Keyboard 5Q is billed as the world's first cloud-connected keyboard. A bit puzzled? Allow me to explain.
Most people think of keyboards as input devices. Some higher-end models feature LCD panels or even use your own smartphone to relay various bits of information but those of course require extra hardware, alter the look of what would otherwise be a standard board and / or tie up your phone.
The Das Keyboard 5Q is designed to be both an input device and an output device without any extra hardware. It does this by manipulating the RGB LED lighting of each key individually based on information from the Internet.
In other words, the keys aren't just lit for the sake of them being lit. Instead, they're color-controlled remotely to represent a specific piece of information so you can program each key to glow the color you want based on the information you define.
For example, let's say you want to keep tabs on a couple of stocks you own. You can assign F1 to Google's stock, F2 to Apple's stock and F3 to Facebook's and have them glow red or green based on whether their value is going up or down. Or, if you're the type that obsesses about CPU utilization, you could configure the top row of your keys to act as a bar graph representing CPU usage. If you prioritize e-mails from your boss, you could set up a key to turn a specific color to indicate you've got a message needing your immediate attention.
The Das Keyboard 5Q's volume knob also functions as the Q button which launches the Q cloud-based application that powers the whole experience. It's here that you'll be able to set up and manage profiles and functionality. The app will be community driven and have an open API meaning the potential exists for all sorts of powerful applications.
Das said it has been working with Omron, a Japanese switch manufacturer, to develop its Gamma Zulu switches. We're told they'll be able to withstand 100 million actuations, actuate at 1.5mm and require 45 grams of force to actuate with 3.5mm of total travel. The switches are said to have a soft tactile feel that's comparable to Cherry MX brown switches.
The idea here is to streamline your time and work to increase productivity. While it may sound like using the keyboard for various notifications or alerts would slow you down, Das believes that over time, you won't even have to look at the specific alerts as you'll see them with your peripheral vision and know how to act accordingly.
Das has a really neat idea that is well on its way to becoming a reality. With more than four weeks remaining in its campaign, Das has already raised more than $160,000 - far past its initial $100K goal. You'll need to plunk down $139 to reserve yours (the $109 early birds have all been spoken for) which is still a solid discount over its anticipated MSRP of $229.
Das Keyboard expects to ship its Das Keyboard 5Q to backers beginning in January of 2017.