Keyboards have come a long way since the days of typewriters. From the early clunky and temperamental hunks of metal which filled the air with the furious tapping of keys, the world of typing has evolved far beyond those humble beginnings. Along with the advent of personal computers came the first keyboards, which focused on functionality and practicality rather than design or tech nerd appeal. These early keyboards tended to be simple white or grey with black lettering, and were clunky and unattractive. As long as they worked and were relatively reliable, they fulfilled their purpose and keyboard makers were happy and so were consumers.
As the age of consumerism progressed, consumers began to demand boutique products they would happily pay premium dollar for, and keyboard makers responded by producing more sleek and well designed keyboards which were a little nicer on the eye than their predecessors. But the evolution of keyboards was still to continue, and the next phase would hit in the 2000’s with the rise of mechanical keyboards. Mechanical keyboards use a superior mechanism for key input involving individual devices called “key-switches” for each key as opposed to a membrane which extends across the entire keyboard. As more and more products flooded the market, mechanical keyboard makers used back-lighting, new fangled proprietary key-switch technology and fancy design to differentiate their own offerings.
Customisable keyboards have been around for a while too, now enter the Sonder Keyboard, which combines the best of both customisation and mechanical key-switches. The keyboard uses transparent E-ink displays on 50 of its keys which are reprogrammable with either preset or completely custom images. Some of the presets include standards such as DVORAK, English and Chinese, but you can use completely non-standard inputs such as Photoshop icons, even emoticons. The Sonder Keyboard can utilise an online library made by users to allow custom layouts for everything from design to gaming, such as Photoshop and GTA V. You can also design your own layout and share it with your friends, as well as store it in the cloud so you can change it on a whim. It is also highly versatile, using bluetooth technology to connect to PC, Mac, Linux machine, PS4, and even smartphones and tablets; basically anything which can connect to a bluetooth keyboard. The Sonder Keyboard is also backlit so you can type or play in the dark! For all you gamers out there, yes you can have your fully customisable macros to use in your favourite game.
The Sonder Keyboard is available for $199 on pre-order, with a planned release price of around $300. There is a planned Kickstarter campaign coming soon, the sad news is it is not available right now!