Yes, this keyboard is connected directly to the Internet. More importantly, each key is individually lit by an RGB LED that can be color-controlled remotely. Why? So that they can glow a specific color based on the information you want provided. That way, users can instantly see what browser tab is hogging the CPU and quickly close it without a second thought. Das Keyboards thinks users can use lit keys as visual notifications.
The new mechanical keyboard includes Gamma Zulu RGB switches manufactured by Omron, which have a total travel distance of 3.5mm, and a lifetime of 100 million actuations. They’re comparable to Cherry MX brown switches, providing a soft tactile feel. There’s also a special rotary-style “Q button” mounted on the top-right corner that activates the Das Keyboard Q software. This is where users set up the notifications, which in turn are stored on cloud servers.
“The Das Keyboard 5Q detects a keypress in 0.4 milliseconds and reports it to the computer in 1 millisecond,” the company says on its Kickstarter page. “99-percent of mechanical keyboards use an outdated polling system that takes between 20 to 45 milliseconds to report a key to the computer. So, the Das Keyboard 5Q is up to 45 times faster than the keyboard you are using today. We named this technology Real-Time One — or, RTO in short. At its heart, it is an analog technology.”
In an example provided by Das Keyboard, the user can set up the keypad to show the progress of a project, such as “New product launch.” Over the course of six months, the keypad’s lighting will change from orange to green. When the Q button is pressed, it will send a 5-volt discharge to the keyboard’s on-board CPU, which in turn will instruct the desktop to display specific information. In this case, the desktop notifies the user that the green keys mean the project is finally complete.
Other examples of the keyboard’s visual output include setting up colored notifications for a real-time stock ticker, showing the status of software development, displaying the current CPU load, managing urgent email, keeping an eye on a project, and more. The keyboard will be open for all developers to create widgets that can be shared with owners on a community-driven website. That, in turn, is enabled through the company’s Rest API open-source software.
The Das Keyboard is making its official debut at CES next month after a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign that managed to raise over $580,000 from nearly 3,500 backers. And if you really want to ensure you get one as soon as they become officially available, you can pre-order a keyboard now for $229.
Article originally published in June 2016. Updated on 12-28-2016 by Lulu Chang: Added news of pre-order availability.