A prototype is a preliminary model of something. Projects that offer physical products need to show backers documentation of a working prototype. This gallery features photos, videos, and other visual documentation that will give backers a sense of what’s been accomplished so far and what’s left to do. Though the development process can vary for each project, these are the stages we typically see:
Proof of Concept
Explorations that test ideas and functionality.
Demonstrates the functionality of the final product, but looks different.
Looks like the final product, but is not functional.
Appearance and function match the final product, but is made with different manufacturing methods.
Appearance, function, and manufacturing methods match the final product.
About this project
How Much Time Do You Spend Typing?
If you spend your work days in front of a computer, you have likely felt some discomfort after a long day of typing. While spending less time on our computers would be the ideal remedy for this problem, that is not a realistic solution for most people. X-Bows was designed to limit the stress on your hands and wrists while also providing a productive and stylish typing experience.
The Normal Keyboard Works Fine. Why Redesign It?
The traditional staggered QWERTY layout was not designed to be comfortable. Its design comes directly from typewriters of the 1800s and very little about it has changed since then.
The traditional keyboard layout causes our wrists to flex inwards at an unnatural angle while we type. With over-exposure, this wrist angling very often leads to discomfort or injury. We designed the layout of X-Bows to conform to our natural wrist angle and arranged the keys in an ortho-linear fashion (fancy way to say straight line) because that better aligns with the natural extension plane of our fingers. The reason that typewriters originally popularized the staggered key layout was so that their levers wouldn't jam - not exactly a modern concern.
X-Bows was designed with three criteria in mind:
Enhancing the comfort and ergonomics of the keyboard
Limiting the learning curve for our new layout
Creating an attractive design
Every decision we made was to fulfill one of these criteria. Here’s what we came up with:
The most noticeable and unique feature of X-Bows is certainly its key layout. The key columns are angled to promote a more natural angle for our wrists.
Moving the ENTER, Backspace, SHIFT and ALT keys into the center of the keyboard achieves two things:
First, it limits stress on the pinky, our weakest finger. The thumb is very underused on traditional keyboard layouts so repositioning these keys utilizes it without adding undue stress.
Second, it makes these keys much easier to reach. On traditional typewriters these keys didn’t exist, had limited functionality, or had completely different functions. They were simply tacked onto the side of the keyboard. Making these keys easier to reach allows you to get more done when you’re typing and reduces the need to move your whole hand to reach a key - one of the most fatiguing acts in typing.
We think it looks pretty cool too.
Limited learning curve
Do you remember when you were learning to type? It takes a lot of time and practice to develop the muscle memory in our fingers that allows us to type quickly and accurately.
X-Bows is not the first ergonomic keyboard ever created. Plenty of people have identified that the keyboard layout that we use could be dramatically improved. The biggest impediment to these keyboards gaining broader acceptance is that they require users to learn a whole new layout. Busy people inevitably get frustrated and revert back to their old keyboard when they need to work faster. Despite best intentions, a lot of ergonomic keyboards end up in a drawer never to be used again.
With X-Bows, we were dedicated to making that learning curve as manageable as possible. The letter keys have not moved from their QWERTY layout. Your right index finger is still hitting “J” and your left ring finger is still responsible for typing “W”. You don’t need to memorize a new key layout, your hands already know where all of the letters are on X-Bows.
The keys that we did move- ENTER, Backspace, ALT and Control- can also be found on the right side of the keyboard. We call these our “training wheel keys”. While we think that the keys in the middle are more convenient, as you’re beginning to type on X-Bows, it is no problem if you find yourself reaching for the backspace in the top-right. They are there while you adjust. Since X-Bows' keys are fully remappable, once you find yourself no longer needing these training wheel keys, you can program them to become shortcuts or macros; increasing your productivity even further!
While you won’t be able to take X-Bows out of the box and feel 100% comfortable typing on it immediately. Our testers have all reported adjusting to the new layout in under a week, some in as little as two days. Compared to other ergonomic boards that can take a month or more to adjust to, X-Bows makes ergonomic typing more accessible than ever before.
We didn’t want X-Bows to look like something that your doctor prescribed to you. We didn’t want it to look completely alien to the rest of your desk set-up. We designed X-Bows to have a minimalist aesthetic and a manageable profile. You can easily carry X-Bows with you for a day of work on your laptop outside of the office.
Our design has already caught the attention of some media:
Want to write about X-Bows? You can find media resources here
You can have a great design, but it can’t help anyone if the product is not well built. We carefully selected all of the materials used to construct X-Bows in order to optimize durability and comfort.
Gateron is a relative newcomer to the mechanical switch game. Expert reviews of Gateron switches are overwhelmingly positive. The switches have an estimated lifetime of 50 million clicks- the highest on the market.
With X-Bows you have the option of 4 different switch types ranging from loud and clicky to quiet and linear.
Gateron Red switches are quiet with a linear feel and a 45gf actuation force.
Gateron Blue switches have a tactile and auditory click when you press them (you can hear it in our video). 55gf actuation force.
Gateron Black switches are linear, like the reds. They require a slightly heavier actuation force at 50 gf.
Gateron Brown switches offer a tactile bump when pressed but don't have the auditory click that blues have. They require a 45 gf actuation force.
The interior of X-Bows features an aluminum alloy plate to prevent board flex and makes for a very solid feel while typing. The bottom of the keyboard is ABS plastic with 5 rubber pads to ensure that the board won't move around while you're typing. X-Bows weighs ~0.8kg.
X-Bows uses ABS+PC two colour injection molding keycaps. In plain terms: they're nice, durable keycaps and the letters will never fade from them.
X-Bows connects by a USB type C port. We will include a 150cm (just under 5 feet) long USB-C --> regular USB cord in the box.
RGB backlighting is a controversial issue in the keyboarding community. Often, subpar boards try to make up for their deficiencies with a lot of bright, flashing lights. For this reason we don’t want to spend too much time on our lighting effects, but c’mon, these are pretty fun.
X-Bows has 15 lighting movement effects with controllable brightness, speed, direction and colour. Of course, you can also turn them off.
Using our software, you can also set individual keys to be lit in a designated colour. This is ideal for people who want to highlight their shortcut keys or those who like a creative, personalized lighting scheme.
X-Bows has downloadable software for you to program the keyboard to your own specifications. You can rearrange the layout of the keys (DVORAK anyone?), set a key to become a shortcut (quick access to your inbox for example), or set a macro - one key to serve the function of a key combination (for example, if you’re mistake prone, you can set the pgdown button to become control+z). You can also set specific keys to have designated lighting - gamers might like a glow under WASD (though, we've found that ESDF works best for gaming on X-Bows) or designers might want to highlight their most frequently used shortcuts.
At the moment, X-Bows' software is compatible with WIndows. We are currently working on capatability with Mac and Linux and anticipate it being complete before the end of the campaign.
“Ghosted keys” occur when several keys (usually 6 or more) are pressed at the same time and one or more strokes is lost because of the abundance of information going to the computer. Most people will never need to press 6 keys all at once, but for those that do, losing one or more of those key strokes is a major problem. X-Bows is 100% anti-ghosting in order to accommodate any key combination that you could possibly throw at it.
It has been great to hear from everyone who reached out to us in the run up to our Kickstarter campaign. We have received some really useful feedback and ideas.
We are always open to more ideas. If there's another feature or add-on that you would like to see included in our campaign, please mention it to us in our backer comments or social media.
Due to overwhelming demand, we will be including the option for Mac keycaps. We have reached out to some keycap producers and Mac keycaps are no problem to produce. We will include this as a free option in our backer survey.
Some keyboard enthusiasts have reached out to us asking for a blank keycap option, with a dot to let the backlighting through. We're happy to oblige. This will also be a free option on the backer survey.
NEW- Regional Layout Keycaps
It has been great to hear from our European backers. They have made it clear that we need to offer some special keys for their regions!
Right now, we are looking into producing keycaps for Nordic, German and UK layouts. If you want to see a different regional layout, please let us know and we'll do our best to add it.
How can an ergonomic keyboard not have a wrist rest? We heard you on social media and we completely agree. We have contacted manufacturers and will be creating the design pictured below. If you would like to include the wrist rest with your X-Bows, please add CA$30 ($25 USD) to your pledge.
The rest is made from alcantarra and ABS plastic. It feels solid while also being soft.
**Important edit- The numpad can connect wirelessly through a magnetic transmitter to the main X-Bows keyboard. As the connection is magnetic, the numpad should be in close proximity to the keyboard when working wirelessly.
**Important Clarification- X-Bows purchased with the numpad will come with two magnetic connecter transmitters built into them (one on each side). This makes wireless compatability with the numpad possible. X-Bows purchased without the numpad will not have the magnetic connector transmitters.
Our new numpad will be fully programmable and backlit, just like X-Bows. It is standalone and can work on the right or left side of X-Bows, as the connection is magnetic, the numpad should be closely positioned to the keyboard itself. There is also another USB-C connection on the numpad if you would like to use it separate from X-Bows. The numpad's backlighting effects are synchronized with those of X-Bows.
The numpad will connect to X-Bows via a wireless magnetic transmitter or by a separate USB-C cable. If you use the magnetic transmitter, it will not require the use of a second USB slot on your computer.
The numpad will be available for an additional pledge of CA$60 (~$50 USD). If you would like the numpad, you can make an adjustment to your existing pledge and then check off numpad on the backer survey at the end of the campaign.
Stretch Goals- Updated!
We have unlocked the silver X-Bows colourway! It will be an available option on the backer survey.
The standalone numpad has been unlocked! Please see above for details.
We will announce a new stretch goal soon!
X-Bows founder, Dr. Sigo Wang, is a medical doctor, specialized in medical imaging. In his practice, Dr. Wang was seeing a similar injury over and over again. Office workers, writers, and programmers were repeatedly coming to him complaining of pain, weakness and fatigue in their hands, wrists, forearms and shoulders. These are the easily identifiable symptoms of RSI- repetitive strain injury, caused by stress on joints from typing for prolonged hours on a standard keyboard. Dr. Wang sought to find a preventative solution for his patients.
Over many months of determining the medical strengths and weaknesses of other ergonomic keyboards both past and present, Dr. Wang began to form his own opinion about the ideal design for a computer keyboard. The problem with ordinary keyboards was obvious to Dr. Wang - they weren’t designed to conform to the natural structure of people’s hands. The problem with the ergonomic keyboards currently on the market was simply that people were not using them. Dr. Wang recognized that the main deterrent of most ergonomic keyboards was the steep learning curve; most workers did not have the free time to spend weeks or months learning how to type on a new, often radically different keyboard layout.
Raising money on Kickstarter will allow us to manufacture at the scale required to produce X-Bows at a reasonable cost. Our design is finalized and our prototype units are fully functional and have been successfully produced at a small scale. Now, we just need a kickstart to scale up our production.
Thanks: Ryan, Lucy, Johnny, Esther, Andrew and everyone else who contributed their incredibly valuable feedback, expertise and opinions to this project! Thanks to Chris' Mom for proof-reading the wording on this page :)
Risks and challenges
Once we hit our funding goal, we will have enough to cover the materials and manufacturing costs needed for our first run. We have collected enough estimates, expert opinions and factory quotes to be confident about this.
Manufacturing can be unpredictable. Delays can happen; products can get lost or damaged throughout the process - all delaying what are otherwise best efforts. Our design is finalized and our small run of sample units were produced without incident. We have good relationships with our manufacturing partners and also have backups ready should anything go sour.
We will be producing our keyboard at one of the busiest times of the year for manufacturing (during the holiday rush). We will place our order once our campaign is funded and do everything in our power to keep our factories on schedule. We promise to be as transparent and forthright as we can throughout the manufacturing process, especially if something unexpected comes up.
Save $450 ($1000 USD Retail)! Outfit your team with the best typing experience available. You'll receive five X-Bows ergonomic keyboards with your choice of Gateron switches and Windows, Apple, or blank keycaps.
Save $900 ($2000 USD Retail)! Your whole office will be operating at maximum efficiency! You'll receive ten X-Bows ergonomic keyboards with your choice of Gateron switches and Windows, Apple, or blank keycaps.