Keyboardio floats like a butterfly, stings with your thumbs

We do an awful lot of typing here at TR, so I couldn't resist writing about an intriguing new keyboard design from start-up Keyboardio. The company is putting the finishing touches on a butterfly-shaped board that's supposed to let one's hands rest in a more natural position. The organization of the alphanumeric keys is largely similar to that of traditional keyboards, but the rest of the keys have been rearranged to shift the load from weaker pinkie fingers to stronger thumbs.

Those orphaned buttons at the bottom are function modifiers designed to be hit with one's palms. The arced rows next to them put the shift, ctrl, alt, and delete keys within thumb's reach.

According to Endgadget, which saw the keyboad at TechCrunch Disrupt, the developers are currently experimenting with using the function keys to toggle mouse movement with the WASD triangle. Other keyboard shortcuts are being used to send the mouse pointer to specific regions of the screen. The keyboard is designed to be fully programmable, and it will come with source code, so users should be able to modify the behavior to suit their needs.

Mechanical key switches are on the menu, but we don't know which ones. The developers claim the keyboard will be "quiet enough to use in a meeting," though—that rules out clicky Cherry MX blue switches. Bluetooth will provide connectivity for a range of different devices, and the whole thing will be wrapped in an aluminum body.

There's no word on how much the Keyboardio might cost. However, posts on the official website suggests a crowd-funding campaign will be used to kick off production soon. You can sign up to be notified of further developments right here.

Comments closed
    • LoneWolf15
    • 5 years ago

    Everything about this keyboard screams “I was meant to look good in the office of a “visionary” (read, pretentious) CEO/lawyer/boardroom next to the modern leather chairs and artisan furniture.

    • moose17145
    • 5 years ago

    Considering everything else about this board… I am kinda shocked it isn’t also a dvorak board… just to make the learning curve that much more fun

    • BIF
    • 5 years ago

    Ergo keyboards all have the number 6 on the left side of the keyboard but “F6” is on the right side. This is poor design. People who touch-type learn that number 6 is owned by right index finger. So now I CONSTANTLY type the number 7 when I intend for 6.

    I wonder how many financial transactions are screwed up by badly designed keyboards?

      • slowriot
      • 5 years ago

      Touch-typing isn’t really that formal though. I hit the 6 with my left hand, and I also never use the right shift. Which seems odd given I learned touch-typing from a very strict instructor at school. But it works for me and I can comfortably get in the 100-110 WPM region on Type Racer.

      Regardless, no matter what your preferences are there would be a significant learning curve with this keyboard.

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 5 years ago

    I’d totally give it a try if it were out but I don’t think I’m sold on it enough to invest in it before trying

    • vargis14
    • 5 years ago

    I can barely find and type on the keys on a regular keyboard…let alone this.
    No thank you:)

    • Star Brood
    • 5 years ago

    They will probably sell it for >= $200.

    • ronch
    • 5 years ago

    My fingers hurt just by looking at it. And yes, I’m a touch typist who achieves triple-digit WPM.

      • Firestarter
      • 5 years ago

      can.. can I touch you?

        • ronch
        • 5 years ago

        You can look but you can’t touch.

          • Rakhmaninov3
          • 5 years ago

          look typing

    • internetsandman
    • 5 years ago

    The trouble with making a new keyboard like this is that it’s almost like trying to reinvent the wheel. The standard that exists is so ubiquitous that pretty much every single possible alternative is a very niche market, no matter how good it might be (Dvorak, for example)

      • snook
      • 5 years ago

      you just summed windows/linux debate in a keyboard post.
      bring on the hate!

        • internetsandman
        • 5 years ago

        Haha. I gotta say I’d be really interested in using Linux, if only the game support was stronger and the learning curve wasn’t quite as steep

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 5 years ago

      The trouble with this is it isn’t good! (illegible typeface on keys, arbitrary carpal tunnel inducing shape, silly thumb keys that defy ergo logic…)

      There are plenty of random fancy KB options out there, lol.

    • Chrispy_
    • 5 years ago

    Why do ergonmic keyboards these days all have to be so radical and weird that they have a large learning curve and alienate most users?

    What’s wrong with [url=http://xahlee.info/kbd/i3/microsoft_natural_keyboard_elite_2.jpg<]slightly-more-comfortable-but-still-normal-enough[/url<] keyboards that used to be plentiful?

      • kravo
      • 5 years ago

      I like mine.
      I only needed about two weeks to get used to it.

        • Chrispy_
        • 5 years ago

        Do you have a weirdo ergo keyboard, or are you talking about a MS Natural Elite like in my link?

        Another issue I have with many of these dedicated ergo boards is that they’re outrageously expensive and beige-70”s FUGLY too!

          • kravo
          • 5 years ago

          I have the MS Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 v1.0. I believe it’s a later variant of the Natural Elite. It’s a good one.

            • Chrispy_
            • 5 years ago

            I had that when my Elite (as pictured) packed in.

            Build quality is WAAAAAY down (gave up after the second one wore out with rubbing plastics making all the key action rough/friction-sticky and bought a DAS) but I’ll agree it’s the best of a bad bunch. If MS made it with mechanical switches I’d be all over it!

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 5 years ago

      MS’s blue tooth arc keyboard is simply Fing amazing. I have it, one of my favorite wireless keyboards ever. Right up there with the mac one but with supple ergo flair!

        • Chrispy_
        • 5 years ago

        I hate scissor switches 🙂

        Bought an Arc at launch for the HTPC and still have it, but it’s too cut down. Great size for the sofa though!

      • Mat3
      • 5 years ago

      Even regular ergonomic keyboards don’t feel comfortable for me. Just give me a plain, old-style keyboard and I’m good.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]Those orphaned buttons at the bottom are function modifiers designed to be hit with one's palms. The arced rows next to them put the shift, ctrl, alt, and delete keys within thumb's reach.[/quote<] Awesome. I'd feel like I was on a game show buzzing in. SURVEY SAYS!!

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 5 years ago

    I don’t know that that qualifies as a great keyboard at all. Nothing about it si visually or design wise super ergonomic.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 5 years ago

      Of the dingleberries who did the -3 w/o placing a critique. Have you taken an ergo class? Have you studied ergonomics in any capacity? Have you ever designed a product that has ergonomic considerations? Or do you just work for the keyboard outfit trying to get crowd funded money?

      I can tell you why, #1 the use of thumbs here is just bad for business, and actually the actuation muscles in question are simply put not 1/10 what you pinky actually is. #2, once you start angling the keyboard you must realize the angle is unique to every individual and can be worse as much as it can be better. #3 the wrist wrest in question appears to encourage carpal tunnel. #4 the keycaps are illegible.

      What do you like about it?

      • Chrispy_
      • 5 years ago

      Im gonna -3 you again just to teach you that the thumb-ratings don’t matter.
      FWIW I agree with you, but LOL you’re so easily upset whilst arguing on the internet that it’s almost a [i<]game[/i<]!

        • dmjifn
        • 5 years ago

        -3, because thumbs are the Real Ultimate Power. Just ask anyone gagging with the botthart over Gold Subscriber Privilege.

    • Peter.Parker
    • 5 years ago

    ** designed for Windows 8.
    It will make you feel so much better about the touch screen controls.

    • rpjkw11
    • 5 years ago

    Looks rather interesting. I’m not a typist by any stretch, so I’ve always found the traditional keyboard to be awkward. Yet, past “ergonomically designed” keyboards haven’t been much better. I think this keyboard might be worth following.

    • willmore
    • 5 years ago

    “stronger thumbs”? Yes, if pressing towards the palm, the thumb is by far the strongest of the fingers, but that’s not what’s happening with this (and other) keyboards. The thumb moves *sideways* to activate keys. That is *not* its strongest direction. The thumb is strong, but it’s also less dexterous than the other fingers. Spacebars were already a problem, now we have four of them for each thumb? That seems to be moving in the wrong direction.

    Also, if you’re thinking of strenght, you’re probably thinking about it wrong. You should be looking at what fingers move *fastest* in which direction and design the keys around that.

    Products like this need to have a lot of data to backup what they claim or we should see a huge [Citation Needed] banner on the article.

      • Goofus Maximus
      • 5 years ago

      I agree with this. I have yet to find the key that my pinky finger has trouble using, nor have I come away from even the longest typing event with pinky-fatigue of any sort, so this sounds like a solution in search of a problem to solve.

      • kravo
      • 5 years ago

      I’d say that anyone of the generation that used dumb cellphones for years and did a lot of typing on them (SMS, anyone?) would agree, that the thumb -at least on the “stronger” hand- became way more dexterous -and quicker- than any of the other fingers.

      So I can see what are they talking about.

      But I find the design awful. Especially the wooden inlay.

        • willmore
        • 5 years ago

        That’s different, though. When you’re using a thumb to type on the phone, you’re pressing towards the palm, not parallel to it.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 5 years ago

      I insinuate something along those lines in my original remark and got -3 on the thumbs. :^/

      Having both studied and worked in product design and ergonomics I look at this thing and just see something that claims in marketing terms to be about ergo but in real terms actually doesn’t seem to reflect ergonomics at all. That and I find it ugly as all get out. The shape is rather arbitrary, it neither looks good or provides utility or comfort.

        • willmore
        • 5 years ago

        That’s a common occurance here. There’s a lot of very quick reactions to posts–often before they’re done reading them. You have to write your comments with that behavior in mind.

        That said, I didn’t -1 you at all. Though I thought the ‘thumbs are powerful, so I thumbed you down to show you that’ comment was freaking hilarious. Sadly, it got thumbed down as well.

    • odizzido
    • 5 years ago

    I have no problem with new keyboard layouts as the one we currently have isn’t great. However I don’t use homerow so this seems like it would just slow me down.

      • kamikaziechameleon
      • 5 years ago

      Are modern keyboards not optimal, yes! They have room for improvement. #1 thing they suffer from is the inefficient placement of keys, not ergo issues, just the placement of the letters on the keyboard.

    • sweatshopking
    • 5 years ago

    looks weird. AND YOU KNOW HOW I FEEL ABOUT WEIRD THINGS.

      • chuckula
      • 5 years ago

      So you’re saying that you’ve already ordered 3 of them?

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