Keyboards should do more to help you type. Generic models look cheap, lack modern features, and wear down easily — they’re passive plastic bricks. Your next keyboard should actively work with you to improve speed, performance, and accuracy. It should use AI to augment your typing style, offer per-key analog control in games, and contain the absolute best technology available.
Input Club’s Keystone brings the future to your desk. Comfort, durability, and beauty complement its compatibility with all major operating systems. Keystone will grant you precise control and usher in a new era of keyboarding.
- Full-Size or Tenkeyless physical layout, ANSI-US only
- SILO Tactile, SILO Linear, and optional Clicky SILO Beam Spring switches
- NKRO, magnetic (Hall Effect) sensing
- Per-key HD Analog Control — fine movement in games and apps
- Adaptive Typing AI — modifies activation point based on your hands
- Per-key custom RGB lighting and animations
- Programmable Open Source firmware
- Optional doubleshot PBT shine-through keycaps in Cherry profile
- Prototype dimensions (Full-Size): 460mm L x 144mm W x 38mm H
- Prototype weight: 1500g
The Input Club Keystone Mechanical Keyboard is an unparalleled leap forward in typing and gaming technology. It combines two new features — High Definition Analog Control and per-key Hall Effect (magnetic) sensing — for supreme performance. Put simply, each key can indicate how far it has been pressed down. This pressure sensitivity enables remarkable flexibility in games, artistic programs, and general computing tasks. Its underlying hot-swap SILO switches allow for near-infinite customization, billion-press durability (20x the industry standard), and HD Analog Control for everyone.
Fully programmable Open Source firmware and advanced RGB lighting help the Keystone stand out. We expect this technology stack (and open source adaptations) to show up in all high-quality keyboards over the next few years.
Hall Effect switches use magnetic field strength to track key movement. This is substantially better than traditional bent-metal contacts in every way. You can adjust how far a key must be pressed to output a letter, sense a key like an analog game controller stick, and gain better overall physical performance (see this technical document from Honeywell, an original patent holder). You can even have an action tied to a half-press or bottom out — anything in between works too!
Low friction Hall Effect switches can last for billions of presses. Their astonishing longevity and smoothness can be traced to one design element: the lack of physical electrical contacts, which continuously degrade in normal switches. Cost, old sensor designs, and lack of innovation kept Hall Effect switches out of modern keyboards until a few months ago. A few vintage keyboards used limited implementations of the tech in mission critical computers, but that’s about it.
Hot-swappable SILO switches make it easy to change your keyboard’s sound and feel. They’re contactless, so you can pull them out and replace them with different SILO switches at will. There’s no real limit to the number of times you can swap between switches — this is a significant advantage over delicate contact based hot-swap sockets.
Linear (Red Slider), Quiet Tactile (Tan Slider), and Clicky Beam Spring (Blue Slider) switches will be available — to see a visual representation of our prototypes’ feel, check out their force curves on Kono’s Keystone page. Please note that we’re targeting light to medium spring resistance numbers; there will be some adjustments. SILO switches support Cherry MX-mount keycaps from all manufacturers. You will configure your Keystone and select your switch on Kono Store after the campaign closes. If you’re not sure which one to get, take a look at this short guide to switch selection.
Analog tech offers a better, more feature rich future. Standard keyboards use digital sensing, which results in an ON or OFF signal (1 or 0). Analog technology is more like a gas pedal — it reads every position between those extremes. CAD applications, games involving movement, and drone controls are just a few of the infinite applications of analog technology. Our Open Source firmware means that the Keystone can be adapted to practically any purpose, which is why it’s so groundbreaking.
We expect video games to receive the most immediate attention. Console games make heavy use of analog input for variable movement, which hasn’t always translated well to mouse and keyboard setups. Most PC gamers have been stuck with digital input — a fairly unnatural way to play (like a toggle for run, or pressing the W key multiple times to move at less than full speed). The Keystone’s analog switches do away with that jittery movement while outperforming existing analog tech across the board.
Artists, creators, and engineers also have an opportunity to engage with HD Analog Control. An API extension would allow brush size changes, variable timeline scrolling speeds, and 3D object control. Analog keyboards will make pressure-sensitive input accessible for the first time, unlocking a new world of human-computer interaction. We’ve created a few powerful use cases, but the most important thing we’re doing with the Keystone is open sourcing its software code so anyone can build on our work.
Adaptive Typing AI offers significant comfort improvements for typists. Everyone has different wrist, hand, and finger sizes — even when comparing their own appendages. The Keystone keeps track of how hard and far you tend to press each key using HD Analog Sensing. After a few hundred presses, your keyboard can automatically tweak how far you need to push a key down before sending a signal to your computer.
This accounts for all typing styles, whether you bottom out or float over the keys, and puts less stress on non-central fingers like the pinky. It will also sync well with AI-Driven Autocomplete systems; you could hold a key down to complete a word or sentence once those integrations become more common.
Video games allow us to interact with the digital world in ways that delight and amaze us. Unfortunately, interface hardware tends to have frustrating limitations that ruin immersion — the ability to shift your mind into a game’s reality. Analog keyboards remove many of those pain points. Analog keys can control player speed, intuitively stack build options in games like Fortnite, or control stand/crouch/prone positions via a single key. The tech offers so many benefits that digital keyboards will inevitably die out (at least for gamers).
Artists and creators always struggle with computers. Countless peripherals attempt to address input limitations, but none of them really add value to the base keyboard and mouse system. Tablets and other devices are useful, but macros and hand movements are still a unique mess across most professional software suites.
Input Club creates programmable keyboards, like the Keystone, to ensure that any key can be assigned any function or macro on multiple layers. The Keystone expands those capabilities with analog control. Creating a layer for your program can be useful, but half-hold macros and pressure-sensitive brush sizing (or playhead scrubbing) keys are entirely possible. This simplifies workflow and brings you closer to your end product.
Our team of keyboard enthusiasts is dedicated to pushing the keyboard industry forward, and we’ve been doing so for the last 4 years with Kono Store (our distributor). We released and shipped two Kickstarters — Kira and WhiteFox — which led us to Keystone.
This is the keyboard that we’ve been waiting to make; it’s the reason we formed Input Club. Our work with Kaihua (Kailh), a major switch manufacturer, connected us with the factories, engineering resources, and economies of scale necessary to make Keystone. Analog has always been our moonshot. We finally have enough experience to make a graceful landing.
Much of our keyboard technology is built on the Open Source Keyboard Layout Language (KLL) invented by Jacob Alexander. This software was designed with Analog Sensing in mind. It uses a “Trigger-Release” architecture to send complex signals to your computer.
Jacob, known throughout the keyboard community as HaaTa, has developed a reputation for having the largest keyboard collection in the world. Analysis of more than 400 historical keyboards led us to the best technologies and design elements from the past, which we then incorporated into Keystone. You can learn more about our team’s character and credentials in the Gizmodo video below:
New to the Keystone is a software platform we call HID-IO. HID-IO is a software tool that works like a keyring for your keyboard. You can plug different modules into HID-IO and instantly have a layout optimized for German or French — it will also handle some of the analog communications from Keystone. HID-IO will make it much easier to interface with different games and applications (like Photoshop or AutoCAD) as well. We still have quite a bit of development to go before HID-IO is ready — if you’re interested in contributing, please contact us on our Github Account.
Our team intends to make the Keystone as customizable and affordable as possible, so we made certain design choices like an injection molded upper case. The Keystone will come in two size variations: Full Size (Standard) and the shorter Tenkeyless (TKL) that has no number pad. You must select your desired switch — clean linears, smooth tactiles, or (as an add on to one of these options) legendary clicky beam springs — on Kono Store after the campaign closes. (Note: Beam Springs require further life-cycle testing and must be purchased as an add-on.) A voucher and instructions will be sent to your Kickstarter backer email address once preparations are complete and funding arrives.
By default, the Keystone will ship with shine-through ABS keycaps. We polled the community before launching the project and received considerable demand for backlit PBT Doubleshot keycaps as an option. Upgrade to a set of these wonderful wear resistant Cherry MX-compatible keycaps for $25 through our backer rewards.
The SILO Beam Spring switch deserves several paragraphs of its own — it's our reimagining of a classic clicky mechanism that was used by keyboards in the 1970s. It is highly prized by typists both then and now. Collectors seeking out Beam Spring keyboards for their feel and sound frequently pay over $1000 per keyboard, despite them having unusual layouts and bulky cases. Our challenge was to retain as much of that keyswitch feel as possible while reducing the switch into a much smaller, more modern enclosure. Furthermore, we are also modifying the design to use Hall Effect sensing — no easy feat given the complexity of the mechanism. While we’ve made great strides towards accomplishing this, and even have prototypes, there’s still some work to be done. We need to further refine the keyfeel and perform thorough longevity testing, as the mechanism must be durable.
If you would like Beam Spring switches, you must add $39 to your pledge and agree to receive your keyboard with one of the other switch options in February 2020 — SILO Beam switches are expected to arrive in July 2020. We are making some bold claims about the lifespan of our new SILO switches, so we need the additional time to make sure the satisfying click lasts long enough. We are only able to test SILO Beam switches 10 times per second. If we exceed that, the spring doesn’t have enough time to reset to a proper elastic stress position and operates out of spec. We began testing a few months ago, but 1 billion seconds is 31 years, so to get anywhere remotely close to where we need to be will take at least a year.
Beyond the switches, the Keystone is also an incredibly capable keyboard. It is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. It has N-Key Rollover for extremely fast typing, and has perfect latency for gaming and eSports. It's designed to plug in and work out of the box; only its program/game-specific analog features and firmware programming require additional installations. Once your keyboard is set up how you want it, you can move it between computers without losing your settings — everything is stored onboard. The software is Open Source, so if a function isn't present you can request it on Github. Our community of contributing engineers will look it over and may add it to their to-do list.
We designed the Keystone case with community customs in mind. On popular forums like /r/mechanicalkeyboards, Geekhack, and the newer keyboard community Keebtalk, aftermarket cases for well designed keyboards are incredibly popular. We wanted to make certain that the Keystone could be easily disassembled and incorporated into enthusiast level products. We will be collaborating with select designers such as Ryan Norbauer to make Keystone technology a driving force behind all of the best mechanical keyboard mods.
Risks and challenges
During the past year, tariff rates between China and the US have been unpredictable. We are currently working with the best available information, but we are susceptible to major shifts in the global economy.
Though we have successfully shipped several Mechanical Keyboard Kickstarter Campaigns, we are a very small startup. We do not have sufficient infrastructure to match the service level of a company like Apple or Amazon, though this is often expected of us. We may reply slowly and take some time to handle support tasks; it is safe to say, however, that you will always get a reply and we will always help. Please expect to follow along with our weekly updates (and possibly be quite patient) while we attempt to actualize the future of keyboards.
We also have a significant quantity of software to develop for the Keystone and for HID-IO. Rough versions of the software work; the keyboard types and performs Analog Sensing. A sleek UI has not been completed at this time. A serious amount of work will be necessary to get this aspect of the keyboard ready for reviewer prototypes.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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