Topre's latest keyboards are colorful, sensitive to pressure


— 1:56 PM on June 5, 2015

Topre keyboards are known for their slightly oddball capacitive switches. The company showed off a pair of keyboards at Computex that continue the oddball streak, and Japanese hardware site PC Watch shared some of the juicy details.

One of the prototypes exploits an interesting property of the capacitive switch. We don't usually expect anything more than on and off states from a keypress, but Topre's switches can apparently produce a range of capacitance values, varying with pressure, that normally go unused.

The prototype incorporates a chip that can read 256 individual pressure states, and the applications sound immediately practical. For example, one could steer and control a car in a driving game with greater precision by varying the force on the WASD keys. Topre also demonstrated the prototype in use as a velocity-sensitive MIDI controller:

Commercial versions of this pressure-sensitive board are in development, and they're expected to become available sometime in 2016. I'll take five, please.

Topre also showed off an RGB LED version of its Type Heaven keyboard with a couple of other tricks up its sleeve. That keyboard reportedly incorporates a less fine-grained version of the chip in the pressure-sensitive unit, allowing owners to pick the desired actuation height from four values: 1, 1.5, 2, or 3 millimeters. Pricing and availability for this keyboard hasn't been announced, but we'd expect it to carry a considerable premium over the regular version's $150 price.

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