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Wooting One Analog Keyboard Enters Mass Production, But There’s a Hitch

It’s been a long road for Wooting, a tiny outfit creating the One analog mechanical keyboard, but the group’s journey from crowdfunding campaign to the distribution of a final product is almost over. On March 16, the Wooting One went into mass production.

Right away, there was one issue--although work began in the factory on QA and early assembly on the keyboards, the actual switches hadn’t yet arrived. The next day (today, March 17), the switches arrived in the morning, and assembly proceeded. However, once the first set of keyboards rolled off the assembly line and they checked the analog switch performance of completed units, they found that a few of the keys were registering as “NG,” or “not good.”

In a video, the Wooting team noted that tomorrow (March 18), they should be able to drill down on the problem and continue mass production.

Assuming there are no more hiccups, early backers of the campaign will get their keyboards beginning in April.

We say “beginning” in April, because Wooting said that there are some factors impacting delivery schedules. In a blog post, Wooting noted that it will take a week to complete the entire mass production run--again, that started March 16--and everything else follows from there:

Then we’re bringing it over by airplane for distribution. Once it’s sent out to you we will share a tracking number with you. Depending on your country, backer level and the local delivery guy (he might like one for himself), expect it at your doorstep anywhere in April.

In the time since Wooting first published the above (February 21) and now, the company has finished its components check, making sure the keycap legend printing alignment isn’t just being eyeballed by the manufacturer (it was before!), checking top plate anodization, and doing a final check on the switches.

Wooting revealed that its configuration software for the Wooting One will be called the Wootility. It’s based on a framework called Electron that relies on HTML, CSS, and JS, and it’s therefore cross-platform. Well, sort of--the configuration part works on PC, Mac, and Linux, but the analog sensing part is trickier. Wooting said that you need to add Xinput drivers, and although there are open source versions available, there’s no guarantee that they’ll work perfectly.

Wootility has been in the hands of alpha and beta testers for a while, and we presume it will be ready to go when the One starts shipping in a week.  

  • SinxarKnights
    Nice, I never heard of that. Full analog keys... You know i've always wanted something like that as a PC gamer. Press the key gently to move slowly or turn slowly if driving. Interesting concept.

    Hope they get the kinks worked out, seems like a great project.

    Ed: that is funny, I just looked at the website and they use the exact same examples. Makes me wonder how exactly it works on the software side.
    Reply
  • alidan
    Honestly, it's less useful than you think but a bit of a side effect of newer switches.
    I know you can get Hall-effect switches that read out analogue, and have seen a few keyboards with analog wsad keys, there is a reason they don't take off, if the game requires analogue movement you are better suited with a controller or something more precise.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    19441008 said:
    Nice, I never heard of that. Full analog keys... You know i've always wanted something like that as a PC gamer. Press the key gently to move slowly or turn slowly if driving. Interesting concept.

    Hope they get the kinks worked out, seems like a great project.

    Ed: that is funny, I just looked at the website and they use the exact same examples. Makes me wonder how exactly it works on the software side.

    Wooting isn't the only group working on it. Check this out: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/aimpad-r5-analog-switch-keyboard,33289.html

    Also this: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/roccat-isku-force-fx-analog-keyboard,33304.html
    Reply
  • scolaner
    19441883 said:
    Honestly, it's less useful than you think but a bit of a side effect of newer switches.
    I know you can get Hall-effect switches that read out analogue, and have seen a few keyboards with analog wsad keys, there is a reason they don't take off, if the game requires analogue movement you are better suited with a controller or something more precise.

    Er--this comment is rife with errors and misconceptions, sorry. Analog input is NOT a "side effect" of anything. It's a feature that's proven quite difficult to develop on keyboards even though the basic technology is already there. I know of precisely one keyboard currently available on the market that has WASD analog keys (the Roccat one I linked to in the comment above)--if there are others, I'd surely like to know about them.

    Wooting and Aimpad are the only other two groups I know of actively working on developing analog-input keyboards. (Again, if there are others I don't know about, I'd like to hear...) And they're the only two doing it with mechanical switches--Roccat's has membranes.

    Also, to say analog switches "haven't taken off" makes zero sense--they haven't "taken off" because most of the first products using them are still being developed. The Wooting One is days away from shipping. The Aimpad R5 is still a prototype. Further, I would guess that you haven't actually used an analog keyboard? (Correct me if I'm wrong.) So your comment that you're better off with a gamepad or controller is based on...what?

    Reply
  • cryoburner
    19441008 said:
    Press the key gently to move slowly or turn slowly if driving.

    I kind of think analog input for gaming wouldn't work that well on a keyboard. The keys would need to have a good amount of resistance without tactile feedback to make them work well as something like a gas pedal or steering wheel, but doing that would likely make them feel very mushy for actually typing on. Most likely, these are instead designed to be better for typing, and not so good for precise analog input in games. And while they might work for that, it seems like analog keyboard keys wouldn't be as good of an input method for something like a racing game as a gamepad or steering wheel would be.
    Reply
  • Urzu1000
    "Wooting said that you need to add Xinput drivers, and although there are open source versions available, there’s no guarantee that they’ll work perfectly."

    Let's be honest here - if you're using Linux, is there really ever a guarantee that drivers will work right? I love it to death, but... when I install Linux on a new PC, or if I install new hardware on an existing PC with Linux, I rarely expect things to go without a hitch.

    Joking bits aside, I really think this keyboard is great. I hope that one day this becomes common for most higher-end keyboards. Definitely a step up from the RGB craze as of late.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    19445649 said:
    Definitely a step up from the RGB craze as of late.

    But... It does have RGB backlighting. : P

    Next craze needs to be tiny OLED screens. Every keyboard key, tiny OLED screen. Fan blades on CPU cooler, tiny OLED screens. Entire surface of mouse, tiny OLED screens. Monitor bezels, tiny OLED screens.

    The future shall be bright indeed!

    Reply
  • alextheblue
    19441008 said:
    Nice, I never heard of that. Full analog keys... You know i've always wanted something like that as a PC gamer. Press the key gently to move slowly or turn slowly if driving. Interesting concept.
    I'm a PC gamer primarily...are you saying you have never used analog input devices before on PC? I've used joysticks/flight sticks, racing wheels, and various controllers (in recent history primarily Xbox controllers). Of course, that's in situations where the game either greatly benefits from such input devices or was heavily designed with them in mind. So while analog input is new to keyboards, it's not exactly revolutionary to be able to turn slowly while driving or vary your movement speed with a stick.

    That being said if I owned an analog keyboard I would probably have to switch the keyboard to "digital input" mode a lot of the time, as there are times analog input is undesirable even if a game supports it. For example, in many games I want to move at 100% speed all the time. First person shooters, for example. If the key is pressed down, I want that consistent max speed (outside of in-game variables obviously). I don't want it to fluctuate. Variable aiming sure, that's what the mouse is for, but I want to run at top speed all the time.

    I actually can't think of many cases I'd really want analog input and wouldn't be better served by a non-keyboard analog peripheral. Maybe some day there will be a "killer app" for it that works far better on these keyboards than a controller/stick/wheel/etc. Like how some games designed for multi-touch don't work as well outside of such touchscreen devices.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    19445126 said:
    19441008 said:
    Press the key gently to move slowly or turn slowly if driving.

    I kind of think analog input for gaming wouldn't work that well on a keyboard. The keys would need to have a good amount of resistance without tactile feedback to make them work well as something like a gas pedal or steering wheel, but doing that would likely make them feel very mushy for actually typing on. Most likely, these are instead designed to be better for typing, and not so good for precise analog input in games. And while they might work for that, it seems like analog keyboard keys wouldn't be as good of an input method for something like a racing game as a gamepad or steering wheel would be.

    You may well be quite right that other peripherals are better for certain types of input. But not everyone will want to (or be able to) buy those things. Keyboards like this give you analog input with no other gear. It's just right there under your fingertips.

    Also, let me address your other note, because I think there's a lot of misunderstanding on the feel of the keys. The switches themselves feel exactly the same as any mechanical switch. Note, for example, that the Aimpad R5 just uses Cherry MX Red switches. Therefore, there's no mush or anything. http://www.tomshardware.com/news/aimpad-r5-analog-switch-keyboard,33289.html

    The magic is in the sensing method. Both Wooting and Aimpad use optical sensors to detect the depth of the switch stem and translate that to analog input.

    And you can just toggle off the analog sensing when you don't want it, and it will feel and perform exactly like any other mechanical switch.

    You do make a good point, though, about the degree of force. If the switch is too light, you may feel like you don't have as much control as you'd like. But make them require too much force, and they're crap for typing. For that reason, MX Blacks (and their ilk) might be an ideal compromise--60cN instead of Red's 45cN, but still linear. (You're right about that too--analog switches need to be linear, or else what's the point...)

    I've actually thought that Topre switches would be ideal, because they have that deep 5mm travel...

    Reply
  • scolaner
    19441008 said:
    Nice, I never heard of that. Full analog keys... You know i've always wanted something like that as a PC gamer. Press the key gently to move slowly or turn slowly if driving. Interesting concept.

    Hope they get the kinks worked out, seems like a great project.

    Ed: that is funny, I just looked at the website and they use the exact same examples. Makes me wonder how exactly it works on the software side.

    Regarding software...analog control is already baked in to games and the OS. The PC recognizes an analog-switch keyboard as an Xbox controller! The hard part is the firmware--the keyboard maker has to craft that.

    I'm not clear on the specifics of game support, though. Aimpad has a long and growing list of titles that support its tech. But theoretically, because any game that allows for analog controllers can also detect and use an analog keyboard, any game should support it...
    Reply