Analog Movement on a Keyboard? Start Your Soldering Irons!
Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Systems | November 26, 2012 - 02:44 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: gaming keyboard
I was patrolling around Revision3 upon news of their Adam Sessler acquisition and came across the Ben Heck Show. Long-time readers of my content know that I tend to be very picky with input devices which landed me reviewing several keyboards over the last year-and-a-bit. User interface is a complicated problem and testing their limitations often unearths interesting subjects.
The Revision3 show’s most recent episode took apart a keyboard, which if I had to guess was based on Cherry MX Black although membrane-dome is possible, and gave its WSAD keys analog control.
The underlying principle of the build relies upon support for analog sticks in the software. It is not unheard-of for an input device to register in the computer as multiple devices in order to increase functionality. Several keyboards report to Windows as three separate keyboards to get around USB input limitations. In this case, the hacked keyboard will report as a keyboard and as an Xbox360-compliant gamepad.
The build uses hall sensors and magnets to detect how far the keystem is depressed and transmit that data as left-stick movement.
I could see a company such as Razer or Steelseries, in a bid to further differentiate their mechanical keyboards, creating a product with this idea. It should be simple for an established peripheral company to design a pressure sensitive keyboard especially given the existence of other pressure-sensitive buttons on gaming devices. Perhaps the implementation could have a toggle to switch between typing and gaming modes?
That would interest me.