Analog Mechanical Keyboard for gaming

It’s been killing us not to talk about this sooner, but we decided not to get ahead of ourselves. Now that time has passed. Meet The Wooting one, the first tenkeyless mechanical keyboard with analog input for precise control. It brings an entirely new experience to gaming and we believe it’s the future of PC gaming.

A quick example.

I’ll be talking more elaborative about Analog than our updated website, be sure to check out the entire video as well.

So let’s begin!

The Wooting one Keyboard

We thought long and hard about a suitable keyboard name, but when looking at other keyboards, we really didn’t like those fancy “gaming” names (e.g. Prism Raptor Ultimate Mega Own Noobs Keyboard), wanted to avoid any technical names (e.g. TKL MK167 WKL) and didn’t like those combined tricky names to highlight it’s special feature (e.g. Anawoo, Alogkey or whatever).

Instead, we wanted to embrace the keyboard, not separate it from our main brand and keep it simple. So, we decided to start counting from one.

 

Wooting One

Analog Input Explained

An ordinary keyboard only has digital input. This means it sends merely on/off signals. For example, you tap the spacebar once, the PC will think OH ITS ON! and then it’s off. So what if you hold down the spacebar? The PC will just see ON..off ON..off ON..off at a repeated rate.

Analog, however, works differently.

wooting switch_motion
Analog Input

Analog means you can send multiple or variable inputs to the PC with a single button. This is very similar to pressing down a trigger button- or joystick (A.k.a thumbstick, analog stick) towards any angle on a controller, it will send different signals based on how far down you’ve pressed it.

The Wooting one can read exactly how far down you’ve pressed a key for analog input. As you can see from the animation above, the further down you press a key, the stronger the signal gets from 0 to 100%.

That’s not all our keyboard can do. It can also detect how fast down you press a key, so it measures your speed. Also an analog input. For example, if you press a key all the way down to 100% within half a second, it will activate function A, if you press it down slower than half a second, it will activate function B. We’ve not announced this on our website because we don’t want to confuse anybody, but just keep this in mind for later.

That the keyboard has analog input keys, doesn’t mean that it can’t send digital input anymore. It’s capable of both.

A lot of repetition, but I want to make sure you see it as a new input dimension before anything else.

Analog movement in games

For gaming, analog input has one very obvious application; you can control your movement speed and turns with the WASD similar to a joystick. Something that has been lacking in PC games for a long time.

Like so:

That’s the first implementation you’re able to use right now, but…

The big question is how would you use analog input in games?

Don’t think technical, don’t think about limitations, everything is possible and remembers, not only does it measure how far down you’ve pressed a key, it can also measure how fast you’ve pressed a key.

To remind you: The following is conceptual and an ice breaker to think further than what you’ve seen so far.

Here are a couple of examples:

Power punching

The slower you press down a key from 0 to 100%, the harder the punch you give, for example, boxing games. If you press the key very fast, it will simulate jabs. When you press a key down slowly, your jabs will pack more punch, at the cost of the time it takes you to press it down slowly. It requires more timing, fines and focus during exciting moments.

Sword slashing

From 0 to 100% will animate you attack in melee games. For example, in a medieval game, you’re a knight with a big two-handed sword. one of your killer moves is a vertical strike coming from above your head all the way down to the ground. The further down you press a key, the further into the slashing animation you are up to 100% you hit the ground. Now you’re able to control the strength of that hit yourself or prepare strikes a bit more in advance.

Smarter quick casting

In MOBA games such as League of Legends, you’re already familiar with quick casting. When you activate a key it will immediately cast your skill, instead of showing the skill range plus clicking. The pro, you cast it immediately without any delay. The con, you can’t see the range at all. With “smarter quick casting”, you will see the casting range when you press the key down until you reach 100% and then you cast it.

Early activation point

Many gaming brands out there are promoting the early activation point of their switch, but what if you would be able to decide yourself when the key activates? Change the actuation point of the individual keys to your liking for even faster actuation.

Analog input for other things

We don’t want to limit everybody to use it merely for gaming, that would defeat the purpose of it being an input device. Besides, we recognize that even the most hardcore gamers also have their normal life or work to attend and expect different things from their keyboard. Especially as a PC gamer, you probably use that beast of a computer for other things too!

So, also, ask yourself; how would you use the analog input for things outside of gaming?

To remind you: The following is conceptual and an ice breaker to think further than what you’ve seen so far.

Here are a couple of examples:

Film editing

Scrub smoothly with precise control through your edit.

Music production

Produce different sounds based on the speed and/or depth of a key press. Similar to playing the piano and pressing a key string hard or soft.

Super secure passwords

Everybody has their own unique typing behavior and input methods. The keyboard can trace this unique typing identity and recognize it’s you filling in the correct password.

Software is the 🔑

The keyboard has onboard memory (further details t.b.a.), so no matter which PC you plug it in, it will have all your settings stored inside. But there are quite some things you’ll be able to customize on the keyboard and that’s a lot easier to setup with some good ol’ software on the PC.

I don’t want to go into too many details here yet, but related to the topic, the software will allow you to enhance the analog experience and, more importantly, allow users to make their own analog functions.

Will get more into this further down the road.

Share your thoughts

We like opinions, feedback, and criticism. So join the conversation and let us know:

1. How would you use the Wooting one analog input in games?

2. How would you use the Wooting one analog input outside of games?

Calder Limmen Written by:

Founder of Wooting. Entrepreneur, gamer and any(thing)thusiast living in Taiwan.

31 Comments

  1. February 17, 2016
    Reply

    I think the technology is a cool idea and i could imagine a ton of use for it in games like the throttle in racing games,adjusting power of attacks etc etc…I do however have some concerns.

    1. While the tech sounds really innovative for gaming…how is typing on it? When does it actuate a key press for typing text? How far into the press? What is the actuation force? Will there be tactile options in addition to linear?

    2. Would there be a way to disable the analog input strictly for typing purposes? I personally would not want to be swapping out keyboards anytime i needed to do extended typing.

    3. Is there currently a rated lifecycle on the switches compared to the 50+M cherry MX estimates on their switches?

    4. Any estimated MSRP yet? (Obviously not a set in stone price but what you may be hoping to reach anyway)

    As for possible uses…i think it would be great to see if perhaps the keyboard coulc type in multiple languages depending on Key pressure…say for example.

    Full depress = English letters
    Half depress = Simplified Chinese

    etc etc would make a great tool for people doing translation work or the like. The idea mentioned of increased password security sounds fantastic also being able to distinguish between say..

    password= typed at half depress being a different password than
    password= where each key is fully depressed

    and having each password actually be different even though the word is the same. That would add all kinds of layers of security if the software could support it.

    • Erik Cacao
      February 17, 2016
      Reply

      Hi LiquidEvil

      I can see you already have some cool ideas for the Wooting one. Let met answer your concerns

      1. Typing on the keyboard is great and it works the same as a normal keyboard. There is a temporary solution for switching between the analog keyboard and normal keyboard with the “Mode” key. We’re still testing and tweaking our firmware, and have some ideas how to combine typing with analog control. So you don’t have to switch between modes for either typing or analog.

      Currently, for typing, it has an actuation point at 2mm (like regular switches). Further down our development progress, you’ll be able to set your own activation point. For the current prototype we’re using linear switches, it’s a lot smoother for gaming and particular analog input. In the future we might offer different type of switches.

      2. See above, mode key.

      3. In the near feature we’ll release more details about the switch, stay tuned.

      4. We’re doing our best to set a sensible price point without breaking the bank. Basically, every gamer should start using an analog mechanical keyboard.

      You have some good ideas for translations and security, We’ll write them down and see what we can do with those. If you have more… keep ‘em coming!

  2. FoxWolf1
    February 17, 2016
    Reply

    The main thing that you’ll have to deal with IMO is the fact that the “analog keyboard” is not something that PC games and other applications are designed to use. So, with that in mind:

    1. Will this keyboard be able to report itself to the host PC as a controller as well as a keyboard? With, say, WASD as one of the analog sticks, IJKL as the other analog stick, and all the other buttons on a controller mapped to the surrounding keys? I say “as well as” a keyboard because, if it reports itself to the PC as both at all times, the user can switch between the two with the push of a button without the PC having to install a new device.

    2. Will the keyboard be able to report some of its keys as a mouse? Traditionally, the big advantage of a TrackPoint was that it could be used without the user having to move their hands out of typing position, a huge benefit for tasks that required frequent switching between cursor movement and text input (only later would it come to be used as a laptop device). If your analog keys are sufficiently precise, and you’re willing to spend the man-hours tweaking the acceleration profile until it’s actually proper, you could do much the same thing. Of course, once again, it needs to be able to switch back and forth between mouse and keyboard input instantly, without the whole “a device has been plugged in” thing popping up, and the keys that are not used for the mouse must still function as keyboard keys (so that the user can perform actions that require holding a key and clicking or dragging, like shift + click + drag to select text).

    3. Can it interface with music software as a MIDI controller?

    I have to admit, a lot of the examples you mentioned don’t really resonate with me as a gamer. I want my inputs easy and ASAP. I don’t want to have to be careful how hard I press a key in the heat of battle, and I *definitely* don’t want to have to wait for the keyboard to measure the speed of my input before it sends the keystroke.

    Even worse, I think that your keyboard will probably be broken almost immediately if it has the features you suggest. The problem here is physics; F = MA. The more force I exert on the keyboard, the faster the key accelerates. So now let’s say you have a system like you describe with the sword, where I slash faster when I press the key faster. Let’s say I see a tiny opening in the enemy’s guard, and I want to slash as fast as possible to take advantage of it. In order to be as fast as possible, I must exert as much force as possible on the key, which means hitting the keyboard with a punch or hammer-fist rather than pressing the key with a finger. Anything less than that would be performing sub-optimally, which just doesn’t sit right with me as a gamer and generally competitive person.

    • Erik Cacao
      February 17, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Foxwolf1,

      You’re correct, most games and applications created were not made for an analog keyboard. Nonetheless, at this moment you’re already able to use it with some work arounds. There is a beginning for everything and we are heavily invested in progressing analog input with a keyboard. Gaming is a great entrance for its, for now perhaps, simple but effective use.

      1. We know exactly your concern. To keep it minimum on the technical side: For gaming, basically the keyboard in its current state can switch between controller and keyboard mode. This is a temporary solution, as we’re testing some new ideas that allows you to use it both for typing and gaming controller. As you mentioned our keyboard should work “as well as”, good news our keyboard is recognised as both so no pesky pop-ups of new devices.

      2. You’ve said, Jeroen (technical guy) just made it a minute ago. He saw your comment and felt challenged. We hadn’t thought about implementing it at this state before, but that’s why we really appreciate for thinking with us! Cool-cool

      3. This is why we need you guys. In this post we’ve mentioned some on-the-spot things we were able to think of, but it’s people invested in other places that can come up with the best applications

      We hadn’t look much further into the music case, but implementing it as a MIDI controller is possible. Something that’s now on our Idea board!

      We are/will be thoroughly testing these kind of things and we don’t believe this will be a problem. There is a speed cap of how fast you’d be able to press, and you’ll have to be a real champ to break the keyboard or switch. You should rather see it as when you’re spamming a key or respond pressing as fast as possible on your current keyboard, would you be exerting a lot of force or will you just respond as fast as possible?

      In other words, there is no linear correlation in which more force results in faster key pressing.

      Thanks for sharing your concerns and ideas. Always welcome to share more, we appreciate it!

  3. Miithos
    February 25, 2016
    Reply

    think of adding programmable keys please like the Logitech series…

    I rely heavily on them when I game, and would LOVE to have one of your keyboards.

    This is truly innovative.

    Keep up the good work 🙂

    • February 26, 2016
      Reply

      HI Miithos,

      We feel you, once you get use to something, it’s hard to go without. Macro mapping (programmable keys) will be available, but no dedicated keys for them. We didn’t want to go overboard and keep it simplistic to start with.

      We would love to know for what you mainly use the programmable keys?

      Thanks!

  4. Keristero
    February 25, 2016
    Reply

    I hope you will provide reasonable worldwide shipping options as it can be very difficult to get mechanical keyboards in New Zealand, I’ve hoping for an analog mech keyboard for a long time!

    • February 26, 2016
      Reply

      HI Keristero,

      Thanks for sharing your concern, we’re familiar with your problem and just frown upon the poor availability of some mechanical keyboard in our own country. I can only imagine how it is in NZ.

      In either case, worldwide shipping is a priority for us.

  5. Andrew
    February 26, 2016
    Reply

    Simple and quick question: Will you make another keyboard with a number pad? A lot of games now are starting to make more use of the numberpad by adding more ways to controller the game.

    Other than that, this keyboard looks and sounds awesome. Would love to try it out someday.

    • Erik Cacao
      February 27, 2016
      Reply

      Good to hear that you think the keyboard is awesome.

      I have to disappoint you 🙁 The Wooting one won’t feature a Numpad. Back when we made the design for our keyboard we made the decision to not add the Numpad, so the keyboard would stay small and compact. In our minds, the users would bring this keyboard to LAN-parties where desk space is limited. It also gives more mouse space. Lots of people gave the feedback that they would love to see a version with a numpad. (we know how handy it is for entering numbers and in some games: arma3). Maybe our next product will feature a numpad, we keep it in the back of our minds.

      Thanks for your interest

  6. dn
    February 26, 2016
    Reply

    Make a version w/ numpad and it’s a done deal.

    • Erik Cacao
      February 27, 2016
      Reply

      Maybe will our next version feature a numpad, we received this comment from a lot of users. We keep it in the back of our minds.

      Thanks for dropping by on our blog!

    • Mr.Mister
      April 13, 2017
      Reply

      First of all a great product, finally analog keyboard, but! where the heck is the numpad!?

      I totally agree they should have done a numpad version as a primary option and this one as a secondary for those who going to lan. I would have ordered one right away if there was one with numpad without hesitation but now i have to wait for another brand making an analog keyboard for the wider public who like to play games and not going to LAN.

    • Erik Cacao
      February 27, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks Full PC Games for writing a article about us! We appreciate it 😀

  7. Marco Bierd
    February 27, 2016
    Reply

    The customisation software seems to be focused on PC. Will other platforms be supported? Is the hardware Teensy or Atmel based or does it run open source software that we can hack?

    • Erik Cacao
      February 28, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Marco,

      Our priority is to fully support Windows first, then follows Mac/Linux. We’re avid mac users ourselves, but in the end, most (of our) gaming is done on Windows. I can’t disclose to much about the hardware/MCU at this moment, but you are pretty close ;).
      We try to make everything as open source and accessible as possible so the users and developers can play around with it.

      cheers!

  8. Mike
    February 27, 2016
    Reply

    This is amazing! Analog keys!
    Some questions.

    Will all keys be analog or just WASD?
    Will there be an ISO layout and different key setup (nordic)
    Could I reprogram the arrow keys to be the media keys with +fn key?
    What about poll rate, n-key & winkey on/off, macros?
    Any chance for an internal usb hub for mouse and headphones?
    Will we have full access to the keyboard software making on adjustment to it?
    Will there be a non backlit cheaper version?

    Good luck with everything and I hope that soon buy this keyboard.

    • Erik Cacao
      February 28, 2016
      Reply

      Howdy Mike,

      At this moment we have 16 analog keys, we try to expand this range, without getting the costs to high and getting weird errors.

      Yes there will also be an ISO layout, at this moment, we are still exploring all the different languages. If the solution is as simple as printing different legends on the keycaps, then yes we will (most likely) be able to support your language.

      At this moment no, but we like the idea and we ill see if we can make that work!

      Poll rate is over rated. Thanks to our technologie, we don’t have these problems like other keyboards, if you press all the keys down they will all register ;). Yes we have a windows lock option. And we are exploring macros at the moment.

      No, the Wooting one wont have a internal usb hub of audio jack.

      Yes, we try to make everything as open source and accessible as possible so the users and developers can play around with it.

      No, there wont be a non backlit version.

      Thanks for your support!

  9. Tim Norris
    February 27, 2016
    Reply

    Please make one with a 10 key, otherwise it is not viable for me.

    That being said have you considered having an option for capital letter/ autocomplete like you have on phones, the same idea with passwords would also work by using spell checking, algorithms, and pattern recognition and you could have the keyboard autocomplete phrases and correct spelling automatically for common user errors, especially if you were to make profiles or allow the user to place some sort of identifier device into (or near if you used NFC) the keyboard.

    • Erik Cacao
      February 28, 2016
      Reply

      Hey Tim,

      The Wooting one won’t feature a Numpad. We’re keeping all the responses and votes for Numpad in mind for future keyboard variations.

      Nice cool ideas you have there (the Wooting one also wont have NFC). I would be cool if the keyboard can recognise who is behind it, and adjust the autocorrect to that user. We love ideas that expand and go beyond the barriers of gaming. If you have more please keep them coming!

  10. February 28, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Calder / Erick
    Right now I feel that this keyboard is going to be a huge success!
    I hope you will make a full kb with numeric keypad version as well, or after the Wooting One. Let’s proceed one at a time.

    By the way, how good is the quality of the LEDs used as the back lights?
    I hope they are good enough to last for more than a year and not go busted in just a matter of weeks or months. It’s the problem we encounter other mech keyboards from “leading” brands.

    • Erik Cacao
      February 28, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Thepcenthusiast,

      Thank you for your faith in us. Yes maybe, will the next version feature a full sized keyboard.

      Quality is high on our priority list, and thus far we didn’t encounter any problems with the LED’s. But we continue to research and stress test this around. We assume that you can have joy from our LED’s for many and many years to come.

  11. iZilla
    March 1, 2016
    Reply

    Awesome this sounds super cool, something that I see a use for outside of gaming would be the ability to use the analog inputs through to a serial port for sensors spoofing in Integrated Circuit development and testing without have to have all the sensors built and soldered in.

    Is the firmware going to be Open Source for modification by the end-user for the hacker/modder communities? Not that this would be a deal-breaker for me but I would love to get in there and mod and hack.

    Also what is the actuation distance for the switches? I believe Cherry MX are 2mm to actuation and 4mm for full travel distance? It might be different for different switch types (Blue vs Red vs Clear vs etc.).

    Also, are the switches Cherry MX compatible I mean Cherry Caps fit the Wooting One? And what is the pressure required for a full press of the Analog keys? Is the force required linear or exponential?

    Lastly, are the switches PCB mounted or Plate mounted?

    ** Idea ** Ten Key version named Wooting 1.1o or Wooting One + Ten or Wooting Eleven

    • March 1, 2016
      Reply

      HI,

      Pasta (Jeroen) should take a look at that application! Thanks for the input. To give you some answers:

      – Yes, we’re not at the point yet and not sure if it’s the most convenient method yet, but it will definitely be open for people to mod/hack around with it. if you’re interested in this, you’re welcome to send us an email to [email protected] (shortly introduce yourself, but make sure we have a (nick)name and email), then we can add you to our contact list and pass ideas when we get closer to this topic.

      – Cherrymx is indeed 4mm distance, 2mm activation. I can’t go into too much details because we’re still testing things out and have a NDA, but using the switch for typing it also has 2mm for actuation and 4mm travel distance.

      – Yep they’re compatible and bottom row is standard. Linear force at the moment, can’t disclose more on this.

      ** You’ve got us thinking, we have this idea at the moment: Wooting oneⁿ

      Thanks for the input!

  12. borabosna
    March 7, 2016
    Reply

    Would an analog keyboard be awful for typing? Would it be possible to turn off the analog input and switch to a digital one?

    • March 9, 2016
      Reply

      Hi! Actually, it works just like a regular keyboard as well, you don’t notice the analog. It never truly switches to digital, but in user experience, yes you can switch between the two.

      Thanks for the input.

  13. Jacob Bertsch
    October 16, 2017
    Reply

    Can i program macros on any key, e.g. If i press press q the keyboard does: press w wait 30ms release w? (Like the Logitech LGS software)

    • October 18, 2017
      Reply

      Those macros are not available yet and often requires the software/driver to run in the background. We try to avoid this as much as possible.

      It’s a feature we will introduce at a future point. thanks

  14. gr33nbits
    January 29, 2018
    Reply

    This type of keyboard is probably the future not sure when that future will be but would love to try one of these keyboards, what are the available layouts?
    So what I am thinking is that i don’t need to use CRTL+W to walk slow or SHIFT+W to run and i can W to walk and with this keyboard i can do all of that with just the W, seems to me that I will be focusing to much on how I press they key and not the game but maybe that’s just my thought, I personally love the idea and hope you guys succeed with this keyboard idea, hope there’s all kinds of Layouts too since I am from Portugal and we use PT Layout, I now own a Gskill KM780RGB with MX-Browns how do you compare the typing experience to it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *