The Wooting one Prototype keyboard v0.3

We’ve been hiding it because we didn’t feel comfortable sharing a prototype product, in fear of negative comments, just like anybody would be when they show their creation for the first time. You’ve seen the 3D renders but the prototype is the real deal and, yes, it does exist but doesn’t properly represent the final design yet.

The Wooting one product design went through several iteration before landing on our final design but in retrospect, we were quite swift in deciding its final appearance. At most we tweaked it and now we still have the chance to further tweak it. That’s all in contrast to our PCB design, that is, the internal hardware that has gone through quite the changes.

During this design process, some time ago, we shared it on /r/mechanicalkeyboards and asked for feedback. They gave some great input and pointed out some things that we hadn’t thought of. Now I can’t say we overhauled the design because of it but we rather took all the input; used it as a measuring stick and looked how we could improve the entire keyboard without derailing from our goals and vision.

Just check out how some polishing work already improved our old design.

wooting_keyboard_left
Old design

See those weird shaped keycaps, unrealistic switches, and thick board? Oh god. We improved all of those aspects.

 

wooting_one side profile-min
New design

Woop-Woop! A lot better.

Now there’s another (final) opportunity to tweak the Wooting one because we’re building the final prototype. That’s why I want to ask you to be a critical product designer, that has never experienced perfection. First, we’re going to explain some things and ideas we have, then you can judge us on it and share your opinion. So, let’s get started and join the discussion.

The Wooting one Prototype

Wooting Keyboard Top View

 

It was a very sunny day in Taiwan and while I still had the prototype (that is now in the Netherlands) in hand, took the opportunity to snap a picture with my phone.

Prototype blemish

This prototype was entirely made by CNC machining, both the plastic bottom cover and aluminum top plate. This means that there are some blemishes that won’t be seen in the final version. For example, the Wooting logo is very rounded (can’t drill 90-degree corners) and the top plate isn’t perfectly aligned with the bottom casing yet. When mass production starts, we will use plastic injection for the bottom case and the top plate is pressed with the logo stamped in.

So, we’ve said our peace, let’s be critical now!

4 things we’re considering

1. Aluminum top plate

As you might know by now, the aluminum top plate is swappable. This means you can take it off and swap it for another design or color. We’ve already made a couple of different color samples top plates, to test out different colors and finishes.

red_topplate_closup-min

The prototype at the moment has a black sandblasted anodized top plate (that we’re definitely not considering for the final product) because the manufacturer made a mistake, it should have been brushed anodized.

Hold a sec! What the hell are you talking about? anodized, brushed, sandblasted what?

Let me explain some basics. After making the aluminum top plate, there are different ways to color it. The most popular method for aluminum is “anodizing”. It’s a process in which the plates are placed in an electrolyzed color bath that causes a chemical reaction to happen on the surface of the aluminum that causes it to “suck” up the color.

As a result, a (thin) layer of the aluminum itself is colorized. So, there is no paint involved and the color won’t “chip”, rub or scratch off (easily). Cool right?

Furthermore, you can add a “finish” to the surface for different effects before anodizing it. In general terms you have:

  • Sandblasting makes the surface more dull and grainy.
  • Polishing makes it shiny and smooth,
  • Brushed gives it that slight brush on the surface making it a bit less shiny and smooth.
Anodized aluminum
Anodized aluminum samples

Following is a clear difference between brushed (the sample) and sandblasted anodized aluminum (the keyboard).

Brushed vs sandblast
Brushed vs sandblast

We’re opting for a slight brushed anodized surface and produced several samples to try it out.

 

FullSizeRender-min

Because you can remove the top plate, also means you can start customizing it yourself. For our first model we want to limit the color choice, so we can focus on the production and delivery of everything without any delay.The question however is, what basic color and finish should we use for the main model?

2. Negative space

There is quite a lot of negative space (space with nothing on it) on the keyboard when you see it from a top-down perspective. We’re still considering if we should shave a bit off the sides and/or top. We like it because it gives more creative freedom for people who’d like to customize the top plate and it has something unique to it. Tough, tough decision.

wooting one top

3. Keycap legends

We’re going to re-do the keycap font (or a.k.a. legends). We made something basic for the first model but were not satisfied with it just yet. It’s not clean and designer precise enough yet. If you’ve got some suggestions or have an awesome idea, you’re welcome to let us know.

If you’re a mechanical keyboard veteran, you’re probably going to ask what type of keycap we’re using. Well for the basic model we’ll be using ABS translucent keycaps with black UV coating and lasered legends. It’s not the sexiest type of keycap you can have but the stems are CherryMX keycap compatible, so basically all after-market keycaps can fit on it. We’re looking into getting bonus PBT keycaps but that’s a development in progress.

Plastic bottom case

This is a sure thing. In theory, we’re able to change the colors of the bottom case, based on the plastic we use, but we’re not playing around with it just yet because more variation = more complication = asking for trouble. So, let’s take a look at some things we’re still considering.

4. Side profile

Alright, so if you’ve noticed we’ve made some indents in the side profile of the bottom case.

wooting one side profile marked

Our original idea was you’d have some extra grip to grab it but in the end, you never really use it, since you can already scoop it up from underneath. Our thinking is to keep it because it looks quite sweet and change the shape a bit or remove it. What do you think?

 

You’re the designer ~ feed us back!

When we just started this project, we told ourselves that we should always seek out for feedback, stay true to ourselves and everybody around us. That’s why our communication channels are always open for everybody and when we get the chance, we answer as many people as we can.

So, today be the critical designer and let us know what you think:

Calder Limmen Written by:

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

20 Comments

  1. Sander Dullaert
    March 21, 2016
    Reply

    I like the idea of polished edges and a sandblasted main surface. I like the side profile!

    • March 22, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks for the input. That already gives a lot of confidence!

  2. Mete ÇİTAKER
    March 22, 2016
    Reply

    İ think removing empty space will be great.

    • Mete ÇİTAKER
      March 22, 2016
      Reply

      İs there a way we can get non analog keyboard with cherry browns? İt would be lovely.

    • March 23, 2016
      Reply

      I’m sorry, that won’t be possible. You won’t notice analog at all if you don’t want to but you can’t install original CherryMX switches.

      So, remove all the empty space and no analog? but wait, doesn’t this make it like any other mechanical keyboard already out there :)?

  3. Kevin G. Kaminski
    March 23, 2016
    Reply

    That brushed vs. sandblast photo does not do a very good job of showing the difference… Anyway, I personally prefer the sandblasted style (keep in mind, that’s what some of the most sought after keyboards used, like almost every Korean Custom board ever.) because I find that it gives a better look. So it would be cool if you could also offer just blasted boards.

    One note: Anodized aluminum can definitely be scratched. It’s a very hard surface, but that doesn’t make it impervious to wear, and scratches.

    I like that the top of the board has some empty space. I just think it looks good. (gives a good place for me to put my pens?) That being said, I really don’t like the slanted bottom of the board. I think that it should have a square edge, since it makes for some cleaner space for those of us that use our own wrist wrests. It looks weird when you put a wrist wrest onto a board that has a slanted area just before the wrest. (I prefer my own wrist wrests too, I have yet to find one provided with a board that I actually like)

    I think that the side slots are a great addition to the board, since they do add a little extra in the way of aesthetics, especially for side profile photos.

    For keycaps, please have a neutral font. Gamer fonts, and things just look ridiculous, and this is a board that I could see myself getting two or more of (at least one for home and one for the office, which is where the neutrality of the font comes into play)

    I also have a question about the plate;
    Is it actually going to support the switches at all? The typical use of a plate in a keyboard is for supporting the switches, which generally means that you can’t swap plates out without desoldering the switches (and nobody wants to do that when they want to change the color…)

  4. March 23, 2016
    Reply

    Thanks a lot for the input! Let me go through it point by point.

    1. You’re right, it doesn’t properly show it, was a quick pic at the manufacturer. I wish there was an easier way to check out all the different results because there are, for example, a lot of different levels of sandblasting and brushed surfaces in terms of intensity. We hadn’t had the time yet to make some proper pictures with the different colors yet.

    A thing I forgot to mention that (what could be considered a con) is that the sandblasted surface is extremely “scratchy”, it won’t scratch faster but it’s a bit like sandpaper. Don’t recommend going over it with your nails if your sensitive to that kind of thing.

    2. That’s correct but then you’re literally scratching through the aluminum.

    3. Neat idea to place some pens there hadn’t thought of it that way. The slanted bottom and wrist wrest topic has been touched multiple times. Even though the slant won’t influence the effectiveness of the wrist rest (unless you have extremely short hands and/or in a big arc asking for CTS or RSI, I suppose), it will indeed influence the aesthetic.

    We really want to make our own wrist rest design that perfectly fits it but I’m afraid we can’t afford the tooling cost and increased risk factor (prototyping phase, it doesn’t fit well, production of wrist rest gets delayed, etc.) at this moment. It’s something that will have to wait for when there is more manpower and resources to go around.

    4. We hate those “Gamer” fonts as well. Something we’re avoiding with our life.

    5. 😉

    Thanks again.

  5. Matt
    March 23, 2016
    Reply

    ugh I want to test this so badly let alone buy one :). As an avid gamer especially in Rocket League, this kind of keyboard is desperately needed especially in competitive gaming.

    • March 24, 2016
      Reply

      ugh, we know right!? Everything is still following our production and launch plan, so just hang on there and keep an eye out, you’ll be able to start supporting us.

      Thanks.

  6. Simon Zachrisson
    March 30, 2016
    Reply

    *1:
    I like it! I just think that there should be some sort of touch on the side of it. That for example stop/play media, etc. Simple hidden touch buttons. For the ones who needs it and find it comfortable.

    2:
    changeable cable for keyboard

    3:

    double gold plated bottom for keys for extra million keypress and for the awsome comfort. Look at Das keyboard utlimate 4.

    4:font for keycaps: http://payload.cargocollective.com/1/0/4773/43087/Type3.jpg

    5: remove the text on the buttons for “del, ins, pg up, pg down, home, end. Use only symbols on those.

    6: remove the “f” on the fkeys.

    7: as for material for keycaps. PBT is heaven, but what ive found kinda have a nice thick feel aswell is double coated abs uv. 2 layers of abs gives it a more thicker feel.

    8: i would like to see a nordic layout ot keyboard.

    9: big rubber feet on back of it so make a steady stable keaboard that doesnt float around.

    10: aluminium top plate is a must for the feel.

    11: send me a prototype and ill give you better feedback. <3

    • March 31, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks for your input! Really interesting font choice there, haha. I’m afraid it won’t fit everybody’s style, but I dig the idea.

      Let me confirm some things:

      2. It has a unpluggable micro-usb

      8. There will be a Nordic layout

      10. It is an aluminum top plate

      11. <3 We'll see 🙂

    • Jason Miller
      October 31, 2016
      Reply

      4. Use Comic Sans, everybody loves Comic Sans
      6. Keep the F on the fkeys but remove the Numbers
      8. Don’t do nordic layout, Vikings don’t use keyboards, they use axe.
      9. No rubber feets, make it a Hover-Keyboard.

      • November 1, 2016
        Reply

        4. Arial and Helvetica are overrated, Comic sans is the future. Great suggestion!!
        6. The numbers are utterly pointless, you’re right. Maybe we should remove the entire idea of F rows and replace it with an OLED touch screen.
        8. Good point. We’ll send all the Nordic customer a complimentary shield with the Axe.
        9. Michael J. Fox is testing out the hover-keyboard as we speak. How did you know?

  7. giannijocarbio
    April 18, 2016
    Reply

    OMG, since 2008 I was waiting for someone to release an analog keyboard! I like to play videogames in a slow pace, enjoying the environment in the deepest way possible. So your keyboard could easily be the most amazing thing ever! And I love the fact that you are listening to us in order to improve your project, that’s a great thing to do.

    So, here are some personal ideas about it:

    1) To have a tenkeyless keyboard is good for space, but lot of people like me would love to see a full version of it, with numpad and dedicated media buttons. Since this keyboard is also about comfort there is nothing better than a scrolling wheel for volume like the one on Corsair keyboards, for example.
    So why don’t you produce both versions, the tenkeyless and the full one? Or maybe you could sell the numpad separately for those who want it.

    2) A foam wrist pad as an option could be great, even if it is not integrated or detachable. Something similar to Glorious Race Wrist Pad should match well the keyboard.

    3) Customization could be one of the biggest quality of this keyboard. Not only swappable top plate (btw white is missing), but you should consider to give options about keycaps too, for example black or white keycaps.

    4) Will the US layout be the only one available? I live in Italy and, for me, UK or nordic layouts are far better than the US one.

  8. April 19, 2016
    Reply

    Thanks for the love! We feel you. Let’s see if I can clarify some things.

    1) We’ve read many people requesting the full-sized version and we’ve even considered making one for launch but after all seriousness, we decided it would be too rushed and we would put too much work on our plate and risk flunking the keyboard.

    We want to give a full-size version all the attention it needs, so we can make sure it’s exactly what it should be. Things such as a volume wheel, dedicated media keys, USB pass-through and even more analog keys (numpad) take a lot of decision making, testing, manpower and of course, new tooling cost.

    So, at launch we won’t have it but we will start thinking and creating it when we’ve booked enough progress and we’re able to afford it.

    2) Funny you mention it. I have a foam wrist pad sample in my hands now. We want to offer it as an option for launch but highly doubting if meets people’s expectations. It’s a real simple product. Maybe we should ask Glorious Race if they want to cooperate on providing some wrist pads? What do you think?

    3) We’ll offer a couple of PBT keycap sets from Tai-hao. We’ll eventually want to offer our own options as well. Just needs some more time to pass.

    4) We will make both ANSI (US layour) and ISO (nordic/UK etc.). Then it’s just a matter of the keycap legends for the different languages from there. We’re aiming to provide as many as possible for all pre-orders at launch and continue to provide the most popular ones (probably Nordic and UK, unless you help us spread the word in Italy ;)? is it this layout https://www.goodtyping.com/teclatITAok.png ?)

    Thank you so much for sharing your opinion! Keep in touch.

    • giannijocarbio
      April 20, 2016
      Reply

      Yes indeed, the one in the link you posted is the italian layout.

      Regarding the wrist pad, I don’t know if it is the same for other people, but for me a separated foam wrist pad is far better than a detachable plastic one. The idea to cooperate with Glorious Race sounds great. Maybe they could even produce a foam wrist pad with your logo and of course with the same width of the keyboard.

      Keep up the good work and make sure you already plan a full-sized version for the future, cause it will be epicness at its best! 😉

  9. Met
    May 1, 2016
    Reply

    Okay, I think I have some ideas to share. I’ll try to do so in order of importance, to me.

    1.) Side buttons for: Calculator, Vol+, Vol-, Mute. I can’t live without these. I see you have the icons for these on F9-12, but how is that gonna work? F11 full-screens my browser, are you gonna be able to override that?

    1.5) Will there be a version with numpad? :3 I like my numpad…!

    2.) I agree that the empty space from the top should go. I would, however, actually just move that empty space to the bottom, to have a longer slope.

    3.) I like the indent on the side, keep it! Makes it look much less empty.

    4.) Where is your logo going to be again? I think it’d make a nice fit on the empty space above the arrow keys.

    5.) S̶t̶e̶a̶l Take inspiration from the spacebar key indentations from the Genius K7 design 😛 Makes your thumb all comfy!

    6.) Make it waterproof! Because technology!! And anyways, what if someone wants to go to a scuba diving LAN? Kidding, it’d probably be too expensive to make it waterproof, or it would make it impossible to mod. Something to think about for Wooting Two? 😀

    I’m planning to use your sick keyboard to get controller-precise control in Rocket League and I can’t bloody wait!

    • May 11, 2016
      Reply

      Hi thanks for the input. Let me take it point by point:

      1. We’ve shifted the entire FN layer the most right now. So they are not in the F keys anymore, instead they are on INS, Home and End. I don’t have a recent picture at hand, sorry.

      – Yes, we’re able to override these things but what you configure on the PC end will always prevail over the keyboard. Does that make sense? Just like when you change the language settings on the keyboard.

      – A special toggle button underneath the mode key (now) can be activated so you don’t have to press the function keys in combination with FN to activate them.

      1.5 No numpad version at the moment, and not started on the design yet. We are planning to do one eventually.

      4. It’s indented in the middle of the keyboard on the slope. We didn’t want it to stick out too much.

      5. Wow! Never seen that keyboard before. Very interesting concept, but I imagine thumb positioning is different for everybody. Either case, as long as the spacebar has a CherryMX stem, it can be replaced for the one we supply.

      6. Actually, we’re able to make it waterproof. It won’t be able to submerge but it can take spills etc. Problem though: It’s really expensive to apply and still being tested. Indeed something for a next version!

      Rocket League all the way!

  10. Callum Appleton
    May 22, 2016
    Reply

    Hi, I was wondering if you could answer a few questions because right now I’m throwing money at my screen! Will all RGB LED keys be programmable (kinda like corsair and razer atm), if so will you provide software? Are all keys analog and can you disable it? most importantly will you be shipping UK keyboard layouts? Will there’s be a wooting 2 after launch? because if I’m honest i would rather wait for a wooting 2 keyboard with the number pad.. Im so hyped!

    I’m not an expert with mechanical keyboards as i own a K60 and want to buy your keyboard.

    • May 22, 2016
      Reply

      Hi, I’ll just answer here again, hopefully it will also help other people:

      – Not individual RGB (so no per key programmable) but in programmable per cluster of keys. 1. Prtc scrn, ins, home (3) rows 2. Capslock 3. WASD 4. Rest of keyboard.
      – There is a digital and analog mode, you can switch in between with the mode key on right top of the keyboard. Digital key will change the keyboard into the fastest mechanical keyboard on the market that can do everything you’d expect from a mechanical keyboard.
      – Ships to UK with UK layout (ISO UK language layout)
      – The more success, the more chance we get, either case it will take a while before a numpad version it hits the market.

      Hope that helps. Thanks!

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