On November 2, esports influencer Jake Lucky shared a video of a keyboard whose entire backplate is a screen, one reportedly capable of playing standard video or even a GPU-rendered interactive background.
Peripherals manufacturer Finalmouse, whose watermark graces the video, subsequently replied stating that this video was "just the tip of the iceberg," and that more info would be coming December 17.
Lucky's original video shows an animation of koi fish swimming near the surface of a pond presented on the keyboard's screen. It's hard to tell with the resolution of the video, but it seems that there are clear keycaps on over the switches, allowing the screen to remain as visible as possible.
Text laid over the video describes "custom prelubed linear gaming switch or analog Hall Effect switch option." That means you'd have your pick of something akin to a Cherry MX Red but pre-lubricated to improve its feel and sound, or a Hall Effect switch, a high end mechanism formerly reserved for industrial applications that we're starting to see in more consumer inputs like analog sticks or key switches.
The text further describes the board as having 4k or 2k resolution options for the screen. It purports to contain an onboard CPU, GPU, and storage to render video on the display and store skin options. The video also references a skin library accessed "via Steam App"—I don't believe this is referring to Valve's platform, but rather a planned proprietary service from Finalmouse. The video states that the board can play standard video formats, or render interactive skins through Unreal Engine 5.
A keyboard never before seen has officially been leaked. The supposed Alpha Prototype from @Finalmouse is set with groundbreaking technology. A keyboard with completely interactive skins built on Unreal Engine 5… wtf pic.twitter.com/p9HhuN4DZrNovember 2, 2022
In addition to commenting on Lucky's post, Finalmouse released a cinematic trailer for the product. "Freethinking is coming to mechanical keyboards," the company announces in the tweet.
It's certainly pretty neat. Alright it's cool as hell, but something in me really balks at this thing. Like RGB before it, I'm 99% sure that having an interactive virtual koi pond nibbling at your fingers as you game or type will get distracting and/or tiresome after awhile, and I don't even want to know how much this thing is gonna cost.
It may just not be to my tastes. I'm a traditionalist, and I've always dug the DIY spirit of mechanical keyboard construction—I like soldering irons and tastefully colored PBT keycap sets like the ones PCG Features Producer Imogen Mellor recently highlighted. I firmly believe that the aesthetic peak of keyboards is one of those old IBM Model Ms but with a handful of colorful caps breaking up all the beige, like a buttoned up business man with a kooky necktie and socks.
Clearly, I hate fun and new things scare me. If you demand a keyboard that looks like it belongs in the corner office of an Arasaka corpo-type guy from Cyberpunk 2077, Finalmouse might just have you covered.