Update, 5/26/16, 8:55am PT: Well, that was fast. After a few brief delays, Wooting launched its Kickstarter campaign (on May 24), and it was fully funded within seven hours. Dollars continue to flow, though; at press time, the campaign is more than than $30k past its initial goal of $33,695, at over $65k. There are still twenty-seven days left on the campaign. The group said in a blog post that it will have some stretch goals, but they were caught off guard--they figured they had time to come up with some.
Most of the time, a keyboard labeled as a “gaming keyboard” simply means it has flashy lighting, light linear switches, and a stylized housing. Wooting, a new Dutch keyboard company, is pushing the limits of what a keyboard can do, adding features that could change how keyboards can be utilized for gaming by using optical switches with an analog feature that allows you to apply gradations of pressure to each key.
At the heart of the Wooting One is the Flaretech optical switches. These analog switches use an optical sensor and light to read the position of a keypress. Unlike a traditional keyboard with digital inputs that are capable only of sending on/off signals, the analog Flaretech switches can send multiple input values to the computer.
A game controller is a good example of a device that utilizes and showcases the capabilities of both analog and digital inputs. On a modern game pad, such as the XBox One controller, the ABXY button cluster is sending a digital signal, whereas the joysticks and triggers are sending analog signals. The analog signals allow you to make adjustments at tiny increments, a feature that is essential to most modern games. The Wooting One will be capable of sending out analog signals, allowing users to make precise movement and throttle adjustments right from the keyboard.
In other words, instead of pressing W to move forward at a set speed, the Wooting One lets you move at various speeds depending on how far down you’re pressing the W key.
Thanks to the Wooting software, the Wooting One will be recognized by the computer as a keyboard and gamepad simultaneously. Users will have to switch between gaming and typing modes in order to get the most out of the keyboard.
The size and shape of the Flaretech switches are comparable to Cherry MX switches, with Flaretech even using the same MX cross stems, although the switches will not be interchangeable due to PCB differences. Flaretech switches are hot-swappable, allowing users to easily swap out switches on the Wooting One with other Flaretech switches without any soldering. Wooting has also made the top plate easily changeable, giving consumers an easy way to change the aesthetics of the keyboard.
Although the Wooting One seems impressive on paper, the keyboard is still in development, and not all of the details have been ironed out yet. As it stands, only 16 keys are analog on the current prototype: QWER, ASDF, Ctrl, Alt, Caps Lock, spacebar, and arrow keys. Wooting is currently still experimenting with the the maximum number of keys that games will support (and also trying to make sure the keyboard remains affordable), so the retail version could be different.
Wooting has actively been seeking input from the keyboard community throughout the development of the Wooting One and has made numerous changes accordingly. Wooting hopes to launch a Kickstarter to fund the keyboard in May.