Keyboardio's Wooden Model 01 Mechanical Ergonomic Keyboard Kickstarter Soaring

The Kickstarter for the Keyboardio Model 01 launched just over two weeks ago, and since then it has had a very successful run. It still has 13 days to go before the campaign ends, so if you're quick you may just be able to get yourself a keyboard – there are no limits to the number of backers.

The founders of Keyboardio call the Model 01 "an heirloom-grade keyboard for serious typists." The idea behind the keyboard is simple: be the most ergonomic keyboard ever made, and make no sacrifices on the way, creating a one-of-a-kind experience.

The Model 01 has been in development for 2.5 years, and during this time the designers have gone through many iterations of the keyboard, settling on a butterfly-like appearance. The butterfly look was accidental; they wanted to create something ergonomic, and the shape just sort of emerged. But they liked it, and so a butterfly also became part of the logo.

The keyboard's base is made of two slabs of maple wood, which you can attach together with a brace, or you can keep the two pieces separate. According to the designers, using plastic just didn't feel right, so they went with wood for a more natural material feel.

Keyboardio opted to use non-clicky, tactile, mechanical switches from the Canadian manufacturer Matias. They are called Quiet Click switches, and Matias claims that they are the world's quietest mechanical keyswitches, with more tactile feedback than Cherry's MX mechanical switches. The housings of these switches are transparent with RGB lighting support. As it turns out, all of Matias switches are clear, allowing the keyboard maker to integrate their choice of LED-lighting.

The tactile curve of these switches is quite different from Cherry switches. At 1.9 mm down on the travel path, there is a tactile bump that takes 60 grams of pressure to get through. After the bump, the actuation point is 2.2 mm from the top. The switches bottom out after the tactile bump with a force of 35 grams, 3.5 mm from the start of the keypress. Each switch has a mean-time between failure (MTBF) of 50 million keystrokes.

The brain inside the keyboard is an ATmega 32U4 microcontroller, which is the same one featured in the Arduino Leonardo. The team intended to switch to an ARM-based microcontroller later on, but the Arduino IDE makes programming so easy that they opted to stick with Arduino. (It's nice for modders, too!)

If you want to back the project and get a keyboard, it'll cost you $299. Of course, you can give less, but you won't get a keyboard. If you pay $10 more, you can get premium tactile switches with an audible click. Included with the two halves of the keyboard are two connecting braces, the source code for the microcontroller, and a screwdriver so that you can open the keyboard up and tinker around inside it.

The team estimates delivery will take place in April 2016. Considering how successful the Kickstarter appears to be, it is possible that there will be some delays due to the increased number of keyboards that need to be manufactured.

Update, 7/02/15, 2:36pm PT: The article was corrected to clarify that Matias builds its switches with RGB lighting support. The actual LED for the LED-lighting has to be integrated by the keyboard maker.

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  • uglyduckling81
    So you need to buy a separate numpad? I've never liked that split design. My friend has used one of those goofy MS split boards for 15 years. It's just horrible to try and play on his PC.
  • tom10167
    It is for typists and/or people with wrist problems. It looks pretty good, though if you truly hold your hands in the most natural shape, the keys would be almost vertical and facing away from the user. "Tented" is the closest to this but still not close to perfect.
  • softskilled
    well this would not make the first ergonomic mech. switches keyboard but the second, since matias is already making it . I just ordered it a couple of days ago since I have problems with my wrists (I already have the laptop pro version, very nice one).