About this project
"...I could totally see one of them under my iMac screen, sat on my chipped old marble-topped desk" -WIRED
"...a wickedly designed keyboard that will definitely give your desktop setup a distinct flair...[it] will add a new level to typing, and all your colleagues will be jealous if they see it sitting on your desk." -Trendhunter
“Michael Roopenian's "Engrain" keyboard [has] definitely resonated with a certain contingent of computer users seeking a more tactile typing experience” -Core77
“It would be nice to see the Engrain Tactile Keyboard enter production, making this more of a work of art than a technological enterprise.” -Übergizmo
International Layouts Now Available!
So far UK, Russian, Swedish, German, French, and Arabic are already available. Message me with other language requests and I will make them happen too!
For UK, Russian, Swedish, German, French or Arabic layouts: Pledge as you normally would for the US size you want, and then just send me a message about the different layout request, and I will make note of it.
Our computers are a constant presence in our lives these days, but did you ever stop to think about what that means for our keyboards? The reality is that our keyboards end up being one of the objects we see and touch most often in our daily lives.
So why doesn't this constant interaction with our senses play a greater role in the design of the keyboard?
Why couldn't your keyboard be designed as a unique object of beauty, to both compliment your desktop visually, and make you want to touch it whenever it's time to type?
That's the idea behind the Engrain Tactile Keys.
Engrain Tactile Keys use natural materials and texture to breath a new life into the typing experience on your Apple Keyboard.
Designed as a simple sticker set to modify your keyboard's surface, each set of Engrain keys are cut from a single piece of wood that has been sandblasted, a process that turns the natural wood grain into a 3D textural relief.
The keys are then laser-cut and etched in place, allowing the smoothly textured grain to flow seamlessly across the entire keyboard.
The result is a keyboard that is uniquely beautiful and inviting to touch, and the subtle variation from key to key invites the touch sense to become more involved in typing and key recognition.
Engrain also allows you to say goodbye to the molded plastics of traditional keyboards and spend your days touching an organic surface that is as natural and unique as the wood it was cut from.
Every set of Engrain Keys has it's own inherent beauty and natural tactility, turning your keyboard into an individualized work of art that will compliment your desktop, and engage your senses every time you type.
Engrain: two sizes to fit your keyboard
Engrain Tactile Keys are made to install on all Apple Keyboards with the solid aluminum body. This includes all models produced from 2007-present, english version. Email me about other languages and I'll see what I can work out.
Note: Engrain Keys are not recommended for laptops. (the screen clearance is inadequate when closed)
The Standard Version: fits all plug-in models with the extended numeric keypad (model A1243).
The Compact Version: fits all compact wireless models (A1314 and A1225), as well as compact plug-in model A1242.
Refer to the visual diagram below to assure you have the right size to fit your keyboard:
Note: Engrain Keys are not recommended for installation on laptops, as the clearance is inadequate when closed and could result in scratching the screen.
Installation: How it Works
Simple, fool-proof installation is a key part of Engrain's design, and most installations can be completed in under 15 minutes.
Your keys come to you in the original piece of wood they were cut from, and what would normally be waste wood is used as a mounting bracket. By placing the bracket on your keyboards surface, you are provided with a complete set of guide holes for accurate key placement.
The keys are individually backed with a performance adhesive, so you simply peel each key from its backing and place it in the corresponding hole on the bracket.
Once all the keys are in place, you remove the bracket and your keyboard is ready to use.
The bracket can later be replaced to provide a flush surface for cleaning and maintaining your keys.
Detailed instructions for installation and care are included in the packaging.
Project Background: The BIGGER picture
The idea for the Engrain Tactile Keys originally spawned from my graduate thesis work at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. It was part of a greater study examining the spaces people commonly work and live, and their depleting connection to the elements of nature and the outdoors. While designing products to revive this connection, I found the touch sense to be a powerful and often under-appreciated aspect of our sensory experience. A lot of user research and a number of iterations later, the Engrain Keyboard was born.
The early prototypes of the Engrain attracted a great deal of attention in the design and tech community when they hit the blogisphere in 2011 from my thesis.
I have spent the past 6 months developing all aspects of this product and refining the unique manufacturing techniques to large scale production. This involved switching from the original pine prototypes to a more durable hardwood with a more subtle texture. I found Sassafras to be a great alternative, a unique species native to the eastern US that this production run will be made from.
The Engrain keys combine classic woodworking techniques with modern digital fabrication, so production takes place partially in my studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and partially with local contractors that have already been established. I have been working with these companies for the past few months to ensure their quality and reliability, and now have a great group involved in making this high quality product.
All aspects of production are now in place and ready to move forward. The final market prototypes have been created, and all packaging is designed and waiting to print.
The Next Steps:
This campaign is the next step, where you can be involved in helping a young designer (me!) realize his goal of bringing his first product to the public. With your support I will be able to meet the required minimums for printing and packaging, and purchase the equipment and materials to jumpstart production.
This project is intended to be the first in a number of products I seek to bring to market, so your support not only makes the Engrain Keys become a reality, but also gives a boost to the success of my newly formed company.
Thanks for reading, and THANK YOU IMMENSELY FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!
The only thing better than taking a dream like this to reality is getting to bring some friends along for the adventure, and that is the essence of Kickstarter.
I look forward to what is next to come!
Risks and challenges
As with most handmade products, there are some limitations to my production capacity. Much of production is preformed in-house so it is not as simple as sending numbers to a manufacturer, so if support for this project goes far, far beyond my stated goal, there is a risk that fulfillment of the keyboard rewards may take a bit longer than promised. I am prepared to do anything in my capacity to fulfill in a timely manner, but in the case of such extreme numbers fulfillment will happen on a first-come first-served basis.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
I have expanded to include UK, Russian, Swedish, German, French, and Arabic layouts! Message me with other language requests and I will make them happen too! For UK, Russian, Swedish, German, French or Arabic layouts: Pledge as you normally would for the US size you want, and then just send me a message about the different layout request, and I will make note of it.
Negative. Sorry kids. The clearance is not adequate when the computer is closed and would scratch your screen.
Engrain Keys are buffed smooth and hand-rubbed with Danish Oil Finish. This is a penetrating oil finish that hardens inside the wood, so it will never chip or peel, and provides protection from the inside out. Wood conditioners can be applied with prolonged use to keep the keys looking (and feeling) their best.
Engrain Keys will evolve ever-so-slightly with prolonged use, and this should be expected and embraced. It is a natural material after all, and that's one of the reasons people like them!
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