Once you buy a keyboard, you’re usually stuck with whatever is on the keycaps unless you want to change them. However, there’s a lot of potential in using screens in keycaps to make fully customizable keyboards.
A pretty interesting split keyboard with tiny OLED screens in the keys is in development, and it actually looks like it could one day become more than just a passion project. Here’s what we know about the PolyKybd.
Modding keyboard keys to add tiny screens is a good way to make the whole keyboard highly customizable and flexible. Whether you just want to do something fun with it, change some letters out for symbols, or even change the language entirely, there’s a lot that can be done to make for a more enjoyable user experience.
While there would certainly be a demand for something like that, none of the best keyboards available in stores offer this capability just yet. Thpoll, a keyboard modder, is among those who are paving the way by working on making screens in keycaps a more accessible option.
Thpoll’s project is referred to as the PolyKybd. It’s a mechanical split keyboard, and each keycap comes with a little OLED screen embedded inside of it. Using OLED for this is a wise choice — those panels are easier to integrate into such a small space because they’re thinner than LCD. OLED also has better contrast ratios, which should make the letters or symbols come out looking intensely bright.
To make the project a reality, Thpoll used keycaps from cash registers, and connected the tiny displays with thin flex cables. Mechanical keyboards typically have a specific kind of feel when you type, but the fact that the keys come from cash registers could make this keyboard feel a lot different.
Thpoll 3D printed the case and sourced the PCB and the majority of the other components online. The modder admitted that adding support for languages that use symbols, such as Japanese, Korean, and Arabic, has been pretty difficult. Ultimately, once Thpoll overcomes all the obstacles, he says that any keyboard layout will be possible on the PolyKybd. This includes uses that aren’t strictly limited to typing.
Going forward, the modder plans to add trackball support. A tenkeyless version is also in the works for those who want a separate number pad.
The PolyKybd is not for sale yet, and it’s hard to tell just how mainstream the creator wants it to become. As reported by PCGamer, Thpoll might start selling the PolyKybd, but due to the production costs, the keyboard would cost over $200. That’s definitely pricey, but there are people out therewho would appreciate this kind of keyboard.
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