This next-gen keyboard will give your pinkies a rest and eliminate mice.
The arrangement of characters on a QWERTY keyboard was first designed back in 1868 by Christopher Sholes, who happened to also be the inventor of the typewriter. According to popular myth, Sholes arranged the keys in their odd fashion to prevent jamming on mechanical typewriters by separating commonly used letter combinations. Other than adding a few function and arrow keys, the text entry device has remained relatively unchanged for nearly 150 years.
Have you ever thought about how you might improve the standard QWERTY layout? Well, Jesse Vincent and Kaia Dekker have with their butterfly-shaped keyboard that places a greater emphasis on the thumb, lessens the stress on your pinkies, and offers a more natural position for the hand and wrist — something that may prove to be a lifesaver for those suffering from carpal tunnel or arthritis.
“The traditional keyboard was designed for typewriters, not hands. Staggered columns made room for mechanical components, without concern for wrist angles or finger lengths. Shift keys were placed under the weakest fingers,” Vincent explains.
Instead, the aptly named Keyboardio puts keys such as control, alt, delete, shift and a new ‘function’ button under the typists’ palms, all within easy reach of the thumbs. Vincent says that the team has also been experimenting with ways to eliminate the mouse altogether by using the W, A, S and D keys for general cursor movements and other keys to tell the mouse where to go on the screen.
And, unlike its predecessors, this next-gen keyboard is Bluetooth-enabled allowing users to switch between devices and carry it from one meeting to the next. Not only does Keyboardio ship with the source code and a screwdriver, it can even be programmed to create your own shortcuts.
The modular keyboard is built around an ATmega32U4 and a pair of Semtech SX1509 IO expanders, along with some battery charging circuitry, World Semi WS2812Bs LEDs and a Bluetooth module — all housed inside a CNC-milled anodized aluminum enclosure with wood-grain hand rests. Beyond that, the keyswitches are Matias Quiet Click switches with ultra-bright, colorful LEDs located under each one.
After quite a bit of prototyping, the team has finally revealed what they’re calling the Keyboardio Model 01 — 20 of which will begin shipping in the coming weeks. Until then, Vincent and Kaia are working intensively on preparing a Kickstarter campaign that is expected to launch sometime this spring. In addition to that, the team is currently planning a “startup kit” with a set of keyboards geared towards the Maker crowd.
While Keyboardio may initially appeal to the enthusiast crowd, the open-source nature of the gadget will certainly entice a number of hardware and software fans to offer their own set of modifications as well. Interested? You can click over to its official page here.