Keyboard runs Unreal Engine to animate its keys • The register

If you thought unicorn puke was the epitome of keyboard bling, Finalmouse’s upcoming centerpiece keyboard might make you change your mind.

Instead of per-key RGB, the keyboard hides a full-color display that shows your choice of animations beneath a row of transparent keycaps and mechanical switches.

The centerpiece has a credible claim to be considered a computer in its own right as it contains a CPU and a GPU to power animations running on the Unreal Engine 5 game engine.

Unlike some other LCD-equipped keyboards we’ve seen over the years — Apple’s Touch Bar keyboards, for example — the Centerpiece’s focus is form over function. Since the processing takes place in the keyboard, the animations are interactive. In its demo, Finalmouse showed several skins, including a mini-game, that reacted to the user’s button presses.

Youtube video

The keys themselves are made of transparent plastic. The effect is a bit like looking down through a layer of ice. However, this means that the key legends have been moved to the front of the keys. So you should brush up on your touch typing skills if you’re considering any of these.

According to Finalmouse, the keyboard supports up to three skins at a time, which can be loaded from their marketplace on Steam.

Apart from the promotional video posted on YouTube last weekend, we know very little about the keyboard. It’s not clear what display technology Finalmouse uses, other than that it uses a “laminated display circuit glass stack” specifically designed for this application. This likely routed the electrical signals from the mechanical key switches through the display.

What we can tell is that the key switches were developed in collaboration with Gateron based on their black linear switches. For those familiar with Cherry MX switches, we expect these to resemble a Cherry Red, albeit with a slightly higher actuation force. Finalmouse also plans to offer a version of the keyboard with analog switches that use Hall Effect sensors. Unfortunately, there’s no word on whether Finalmouse will offer the keyboard with clicky or tactile switches a la Cherry Blues or Browns.

The keyboard will reportedly launch early next year, priced at $349. While that may sound like a lot for a keyboard, it’s not uncommon for keyboard enthusiasts to spend hundreds of dollars to find the perfect key feel, switch actuation force, feedback, and sound. ® Keyboard runs Unreal Engine to animate its keys • The register

Rick Schindler

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