About this project
Do you get frustrated with switching between your mouse and keyboard? Do you want to use your mouse and keyboard at the same time? Yeah, we do too!
We studied how the human hand works. How it moves. Its shape and contours. How we grip and move mice, type on keyboards, and manipulate joysticks.
We challenged ourselves to find a way to move a mouse quickly and accurately without using fingers or thumbs. We designed a contoured palm rest that comfortably anchors your palm and enables you to drive the mouse without moving a single digit. The palm rest is designed to allow unobstructed movement of your fingers and thumb while still providing enough leverage in all directions to maintain precise mouse control.
With fingers and thumbs liberated we put controls within easy reach so you can type, use hotkeys, hold buttons down and manipulate joysticks while accurately controlling the mouse.
With the wireless stretch goal met, we'll be able to provide an awesome wireless device! Multiple, selectable endpoints, the ability to tie into pretty much any Bluetooth device, including computers, phones, tablets, consoles, etc., and a great battery that charges through the usb connection are some of the highlights!
CHERRY MX KEY UPDATE!
We've fully integrated Cherry MX keys into our designs, as shown in a cutaway view of our new finger keyboards! More details available in the Update #3 post!
After hitting our first stretch goal, we have made some design improvements, a few of which are showcased in our improved design sketch below. More details available in the Update #2 post!
NOW WITH CHERRY MX KEYS!! See update #3 for details!
30 keys for fingers of each hand
Finger key rows angled for fast access
- QWERTY layout by default for typing
- DVORAK and other layouts available with the click of a button
- Fully customizable with memory to save custom configurations
5 keys for each thumb
2-axis analog joystick for each thumb
- See Update #2 for our improved thumb component positioning
- Contoured palm rest allows you to move the device as a mouse by simply moving your hand
- Palm rest is adjustable back/forth, side-to-side, up/down, and can be rotated to put your hand in the perfect position relative to the finger keyboard and thumb controls using an ultra-stable, no-wobble mechanism
- After reaching our first stretch goal, we have an improved palm rest with more surface area for better control! See Update #2 for details. New pics coming soon!
Controlled by the high-end Avago (now Pixart) 9800 optical laser sensor
When coupled, a full King's Assembly will have 2x optical laser inputs (one for each hand) that will show up as one pointer input (mouse cursor) with the motion from both lasers added together
- Teflon pads as feet for slick sliding (as bulky as the device looks, it moves very easily and accurately)
[ Programming Goal ] The sensitivity of each laser input can be modified independently, so you can set one normal and one slow for a sniper-mode mouse control
[ Programming Goal ] A key can be mapped such that either toggling it or holding it down disables the mouse optical sensor input, allowing you to reposition the device without moving the mouse cursor (handy for strafing in games, where normally you might lift the mouse up and move it)
[ Programming Goal ] Combine alternating mouse disabling (using the mouse-disabling key) with opposing mouse movements to create perpetual mouse cursor movement in any direction (yes this takes a minute to sink in, but it's a very exciting feature and only takes a minute of practice to get right)
[ Programming Goal ] Turn the mouse into an analog joystick! Move the mouse up/down to control y-axis. Move the mouse left/right to control x-axis. Press a key to re-center! Different re-centering algorithms available!
[ Yaw & Hud Goal ] Turn the mouse into a twist analog controller, like the twist control on a joystick!
Both the vertical and horizontal mouse scroll wheels can be controlled by the thumb joystick(s)
By default, the right device's joystick is in scroll-wheel mode
When in scroll-wheel mode, the joystick uses an acceleration algorithm such that the further you pull the joystick in one direction, the faster the mouse scroll wheel scrolls in that direction, allowing you to zoom around web pages, documents, spreadsheets, and engineering designs with ease, accuracy, and speed.
All keys use Cherry MX mechanical keyboard switches. Backers will be able to choose which MX flavor they want!! Browns by default!
Custom keycaps small enough to put all 35 within reach, but big enough and contoured to speed-type
No limit to the number of keys that can be held down simultaneously except that of the USB specification and operating system, because every key in the King's Assembly has its own dedicated input into the microcontroller chip, unlike other keyboards that use a matrix
USB-powered, so no heavy batteries
Wired USB connection for minimal latency
No drivers needed, so just plug the USB cable in and several standard USB devices (mouse, keyboard, joystick) will appear to the computer
Supported on all operating systems that recognize USB devices (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc)
Each device (right AND left) has its own independent USB connection, so you can plug a pair into 2 computers simultaneously
- Works with game consoles that recognize standard USB devices (mouse, keyboard, joystick)
[ Programming Goal ] Control which computer receives the input by independently toggling on and off each connection, or even have them both on at the same time
A full King's Assembly (right and left device) uses a dedicated interconnect using a 4-wire cable with a standard 2.5mm plug at each end
It provides a full-duplex communication link between the pair of devices, allowing the pair together to act as one keyboard, mouse, and joystick
- [ Wireless Goal ] A cable interconnect will not be required if we meet our wireless stretch goal.
We use the beefy Atmel AT90USB128 chip in each hand of the King's Assembly for maximum horsepower, dedicated inputs for all controls, and a network endpoint to allow web browser configurability
A default preset bank and customizable preset banks available to save programming
Programming is stored on the device's mcu (the Atmel)
Browser-based programming and configuring, so no software or drivers to install
Any key can be mapped to any keyboard key, mouse button, or joystick button
A special register key (that can also be re-mapped) allows keys on the device to have a second set of assignments, accessed by holding down the register key. This expands the number of key mappings from 70 up to 139
Each controller has one analog thumb-joystick similar to those on common game console controllers (Playstation, XBox, Wii, etc)
Thumb joysticks can act either as a standard analog joystick or mouse scroll wheels
[ Programming Goal ] D-pad mode for either of the joysticks. This allows a joystick to behave like 4 (or 8) buttons (like arrows, wsad, etc), like game console controller directional pads
- We started with the desire to unite a keyboard and mouse so that we could type and use the mouse simultaneously!
- We realized that we needed a way to move a mouse without using any fingers, so we set about creating a palm-driven mouse.
- We started carving clay until we had a good contour that fit a variety of hand sizes and provided enough friction by itself to move the mouse in all directions accurately.
- We translated the contour to CAD and added electronic components, inner support frames, and a shell.
- We picked out the main electronic components and integrated them on circuit board designs - a nice analog thumb joystick similar to what you'll find in a game console controller, the Avago 9800 laser sensor for mouse motion tracking, Cherry MX mechanical key switches for all the keys, and the Atmel AT90USB128 chip (to handle digital key input, analog joystick input, processing, programming, preset storage, and USB stack handling).
- After we selected an all-star bill of materials, we began fabricating circuit boards and 3D printing plastic pieces
- With prototypes in hand, we refined the positioning of the inputs relative to the palm rest and designed a mechanism to adjust the position of the palm rest.
- Our initial designs were for a right-handed device (the Elementalist), but we realized quickly that if you use an Elementalist with your right hand and a regular keyboard with your left, holding the Shift key on one keyboard won't capitalize the letters of the other keyboard. This is due to how standard USB keyboard devices are handled. So we mirrored the Elementalist and added an interconnect, creating a left-handed device, the Strategist! It has the same components and connection ports (one USB, one interconnect), so it can act alone or unified with the Elementalist.
- At this point we have 2 functioning prototypes, one Strategist and one Elementalist (shown in the video and pics) and we've started designing our next shell iteration.
- A note about the product names: Because the Elementalist and the Strategist can be used by themselves, we felt they deserved their own names. The pair together adds enough functionality through the interconnect programming to warrant being branded as a unified product with its own name. Hence the King's Assembly! We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
50K - Further Refinement of Design!
Improving some key design aspects such as:
- Expanding the range of hand sizes that can get to all the controls fluidly.
- Improve the thumb joystick position, angle, and possibly a custom joystick cap.
- Improve the thumb key positions, angles, and keycap shapes
- Improve palm rest (of course without disrupting digit mobility) to get a little more friction which translates to more precise mouse control.
- Centering the laser sensor better
- Upgrading the laser sensor. The Avago (now Pixart) 9800 has very impressive stats, but there are other competitive sensors we would like to investigate
75K - Souped-Up Programming!
We've already put some great programming features into the King's Assembly. But with so many controls and the Atmel microcontroller, there are more really awesome things we can do with the microcontroller programming! With more funding, we'll be able to do things like:
- Pro presets! Designed by experts specifically for particular applications / games.
- ONBOARD MACROS. Our chip is powerful enough to store macros on it. We could develop a way to create and permanently store macros right on the chips that are in the device! The macros would behave like Logitech's G-Series input devices and Razer's Synapse software. Except ours won't need drivers and software running on your computer's operating system to run them!
- Improved programming UI!
- Lots of neat things we can do, and if we reach this tier we'll take your Kickstarter feedback and see what inspired programming functionality we can add in!
100K - Styling Package!
Our current design is pretty utilitarian because we wanted to get the core innovations right before adding a lot of flair, but we're just itching to do the following that would be possible if we reached this tier, like:
- Lighting. Customizable, programmable backlighting and accent lighting!
- Printed and/or glowing lettering for keys.
- Color / theme choices!
- Again, we'll be taking backer input to steer design options!
125K - Wireless!
Remove the need for a USB cable to connect to a computer, and remove the need for an interconnect cable for a pair to act as one keyboard, mouse and joystick.
150K - Enhanced Ergonomics!
Raising the bar on comfort and control!
- Palm rest sizes! The new palm rest we designed has more contour to give your hand more precise control and be more comfortable, but this means that we really need to create different sizes to fit different sized hands. For the contour that we have, we think a small, medium, large size will do nicely.
- New keyboard contour!
- Greater adjustability for palm relative to finger keyboard, thumb controls relative to palm, and palm relative to the table! This will allow for ideal positioning of hand and arm, and will include tilting to reduce arm pronation!
175K - Yaw & Hud!
- Add a second laser sensor to each device to measure rotation of each device (yaw)!
- When you rotate either hand of the King's Assembly, this motion can be mapped to any analog or digital input!
- Assign keys to toggle yaw on/off!
- Assign keys to press-and-hold to turn yaw on/off when held!
- Assign multiple inputs to the same yaw! This allows you to control 2 or more inputs using the same mouse twist (yaw)!
- Assign keys to re-center yaw control!
- With mouse-as-a-joystick on, and yaw control on, each device controls 5 analog joystick inputs!!
- Head-up Display on a phone or tablet!
- HUD will show current keymap, analog input positions, status, and more!
- Example below:
Sample Keymaps - Default QWERTY and Titanfall!
Risks and challenges
Different Hand Sizes - By locking the palm of your hand in place on a device that is supposed to allow fast and accurate access to so many controls, we've stepped into a realm where hand size and shape matter a lot. The risk here is that hands that are really big or really small will have difficulty getting to and working all the controls. We've mitigated this risk as much as possible by making the position of the palm rest adjustable and pulling the finger and thumb controls as close together as possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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