Cherry's RealKey tech promises uber-responsive, ghost-free keyboards

Future Cherry MX keyboards may be more responsive than ever—and they may have better, more reliable anti-ghosting, too. That's all thanks to Cherry's new RealKey technology, which the company announced at CES this morning.

As Cherry explained, all keyboards have something called a "debounce delay" that dictates how quickly keystrokes are registered. When a key is pressed, the contacts inside the switch come together, and the key "bounces." The keyboard's controller needs to wait a certain amount of time for the "bounce" to end in order to avoid accidentally registering the keystroke more than once.

Today's keyboards use digital controllers, and Cherry says their debounce delay is 20 ms on average. The company's RealKey technology uses an analog controller that's able to shorten that delay to just 1 ms. The graphs above show how the two systems differ. (Use the buttons underneath to switch between them.)

RealKey's analog mojo has another advantage. Because every key and key combo produces a discrete analog signal, ghosting "simply does not happen," Cherry says. In other words, no matter how many keys are pressed at the same time, the controller won't fail to register some of them, nor will it register incorrect keystrokes. Some current mechanical keyboards already implement anti-ghosting countermeasures, but as I understand it, RealKey should make those obsolete.

Interestingly, Cherry doesn't plan to license RealKey to other keyboard makers just yet. The company will instead premiere the tech on a keyboard of its own design, the MX Board 6.0. Priced at $219 and scheduled for a spring release, this offering is aimed squarely at professionals. It features a 108/109-key layout, an aluminum housing, an "anti-fingerprint" coating, a palm rest (which will latch on magnetically, if I understand correctly), and red backlighting.

Tip: You can use the A/Z keys to walk threads.
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