Monday, June 17th 2019

Wooting Explores Hall Effect and Inductive Sensing for Analog Keyboards

Readers of our website may be familiar with the Wooting brand for their then, and now, excellent Wooting One analog keyboard that we examined in late 2017. It impressed us enough to be the top keyboard for the year as well, and still remains one of the few keyboards to offer analog control at all, let alone on every single switch it is on. The company has since come out with a full-size Wooting Two, along with another switch option using a heavier spring. Their switches to date are linear optical switches manufactured by Flaretech to Wooting's design, and the company admitted there was not much more they could do with the current design. This brought us to Computex 2019, wherein they demonstrated their next generation switches for analog control, gave us some samples to take apart, and also showed off a neat prototype technology for the future- if it pans out, anyway.

The Hall effect has been used for keyboard switches in the past, as much as nearly four decades ago, no matter what some people may tell you when describing Steelseries' new switch from Computex also based off the Hall effect. Indeed, it had a small resurgence a couple of years ago in the enthusiast keyboard arena when "Ace Pad" and "XMIT" worked together for a Massdrop-exclusive keyboard, but 2019 does seem to be the year they come back in the public eye. Wooting's take is called the Lekker switch, a word in Dutch that can stand for different things depending on the context but generally stands for something impressive. Read past the break for more on the Lekker switch, as well as other things that might interest you.
The Lekker switch is manufactured not by Flaretech, but by Huano- a mice switch manufacturer based in China, who have since diversified their portfolio to include keyboard switches as well. The Hall effect sensor itself is an integrated part of the keyboard PCB, as with the optical sensor before, and these are made by Taiwan-based Major-Power (mPower) who have a lot of experience with Hall effect products already. The switch itself is linear, at least in its current iteration, with a turquoise-colored stem and a clear housing. The stem has walls around to help add in some dust and spill resistance, while still retaining Cherry MX stem keycap compatibility. There is also a small magnet in each switch, as expected, and you can read more here if you want to know more about the Hall effect as it pertains to these switches.

The Wooting Lekker switch is rated for as much as 100,000,000 clicks for life span, which they say is also just an estimate given they have not had a switch go bad in testing yet. Theoretically it would be the life span of the sensor on the PCB, or even any metal degradation of the spring itself, but there are inherent advantages in this route in terms of switch design and longevity. The spring itself helps provide a peak force of 65 cN, and the actuation force itself is of course dependent on the actuation distance and thus is not a single number here. The actuation range is rated for 0.1 to 3.8 mm, with a total travel distance of 4.0 mm. Wooting is giving themselves some luxury with a margin of error, but it is still better than any other analog switch to date as long as it works as rated.
Wooting showed off also a special Wooting Two Lekker edition keyboard, a limited edition unit using a custom PBT keycap set paired to a blue anodized aluminium case and the Lekker switches that will help fund the development of the switch and other things in the future.
In addition, Wooting also were happy to share the spotlight with a Dutch startup, Alltrons B.V., that aims to use inductive sensing as an alternative means to analog control on keyboards. The technology is still in its infancy, and you can read more here if interested. But it is interesting to note that we have gone from pressure sensing to analog control to the Hall effect, and possibly other technologies, all in the quest to make a keyboard truly worthy of the gaming moniker.
Add your own comment

15 Comments on Wooting Explores Hall Effect and Inductive Sensing for Analog Keyboards

#1
Thorsthimble
Now that is a very cool concept, though I am surprised it didn't come about sooner as simple as it is. Though its simplicity may be why it wasn't thought of sooner, lol. I'm not entirely sure if there is any practical application for the analog function, but I guess time will tell. Regardless, a very, very cool idea.
Posted on Reply
#2
AsRock
TPU addict
Thorsthimble
Now that is a very cool concept, though I am surprised it didn't come about sooner as simple as it is. Though its simplicity may be why it wasn't thought of sooner, lol. I'm not entirely sure if there is any practical application for the analog function, but I guess time will tell. Regardless, a very, very cool idea.
Your kidding right ?, gaming could be taken to another level with this.gradual movement and no reason for a game pad. Or as some games allow you to play with a keyboard then a controller you could be just using a keyboard thoughout.
Posted on Reply
#3
TheLostSwede
Awww, no pics of the Lekker keyboard?
[IMG]https://img.pagecloud.com/0wWtfysDNNuV9lXJQW9xz8JcjHI=/1011x0/filters:no_upscale()/secretwootingstuffhome/Wooting_two_lekker_flex_edit-p50cc.png[/IMG]
https://wooting.io/wooting_two_lekker
Posted on Reply
#4
Valantar
AsRock
Your kidding right ?, gaming could be taken to another level with this.gradual movement and no reason for a game pad. Or as some games allow you to play with a keyboard then a controller you could be just using a keyboard thoughout.
Yeah, lack of movement speed control is the one major drawback of PC gaming, regardless if you're talking FPS, sports games, racing, or even RTS and (real-time) RPGs. Definitely a solid use case there. Playing stealth games on a PC with a useless walk/run toggle is a nightmare compared to using a controller.

Then again, I hate typing on linear switches. Hope someone makes one of those "gamepad" boards with these analog switches!
Posted on Reply
#5
Wavetrex
Lekker !!

(That's a dutch word with several meanings, something between "Delicious" and "Awesome", or it can be translated with "I really like it !")

I will get one of these when released... you know, to support local economy :D
Posted on Reply
#6
TheLostSwede
Wavetrex
Lekker !!

(That's a dutch word with several meanings, something between "Delicious" and "Awesome", or it can be translated with "I really like it !")

I will get one of these when released... you know, to support local economy :D
Check the link above, you can already order it.
Posted on Reply
#7
InVasMani
Honestly I'd like to see optical scissor switches myself. The other thing I'd like is touch sensitive key caps which you could do different things with those. One use could be a touch sensitive screen overlay that lets the users know which fingers they are touching before they depress them which would be quite handy to a ton of people gaming and otherwise. You could even use them for instant "single" key presses and depress them to auto repeat keys.
Posted on Reply
#8
VSG
Editor, Reviews & News
TheLostSwede
Awww, no pics of the Lekker keyboard?
[IMG]https://img.pagecloud.com/0wWtfysDNNuV9lXJQW9xz8JcjHI=/1011x0/filters:no_upscale()/secretwootingstuffhome/Wooting_two_lekker_flex_edit-p50cc.png[/IMG]
https://wooting.io/wooting_two_lekker
I wanted to keep this on the tech itself, but yeah there isn't much more to add so updated the post with a couple of pics of the Lekker edition keyboard :)
Posted on Reply
#9
Valantar
I have to say, that colorway is hideous. An absolutely terrible color combination. Whoever put that together should take a course in basic color theory. The keycap combo isn't bad, but clashes terribly with the deep blue base.
Posted on Reply
#10
TheLostSwede
Valantar
I have to say, that colorway is hideous. An absolutely terrible color combination. Whoever put that together should take a course in basic color theory. The keycap combo isn't bad, but clashes terribly with the deep blue base.
Want his email address so you can complain in person?
On the other hand, maybe you should launch a product so we can all complain about how naff it is?
Posted on Reply
#11
VSG
Editor, Reviews & News
TheLostSwede
Want his email address so you can complain in person?
On the other hand, maybe you should launch a product so we can all complain about how naff it is?
Nothing wrong with him wanting to express his opinion.

Valantar
Yeah, lack of movement speed control is the one major drawback of PC gaming, regardless if you're talking FPS, sports games, racing, or even RTS and (real-time) RPGs. Definitely a solid use case there. Playing stealth games on a PC with a useless walk/run toggle is a nightmare compared to using a controller.

Then again, I hate typing on linear switches. Hope someone makes one of those "gamepad" boards with these analog switches!
Cooler Master has a small game pad using Aimpad technology for analog control, which itself can work with tactile switches also.
Posted on Reply
#12
Valantar
TheLostSwede
Want his email address so you can complain in person?
On the other hand, maybe you should launch a product so we can all complain about how naff it is?
No thanks, don't see the need for that. But anyone responsible for picking the colors of a mass-produced product really ought to have a good enough grasp of color theory to tell (even without having seen it IRL) that metallic deep blue and pastel turquoise* and yellow are going to clash dramatically. Even plain white would be harsh against that deep, rich blue tone. Mid or dark grey could work, as could black or even something "risky" like silver, but pastels? No. Sorry. If you don't think this is worthy of criticism, well, then we disagree. This is sloppy design, which is rather sad as ... well, design should be done by a designer. And a designer should know color theory.

* Unsure which photos to trust here - the top post's pics look turquoise, while the one you posted looks more teal or even mint green. Guess it depends on the camera's white balance. Anyhow, this doesn't change anything about just how harsh that clash is.
VSG
Cooler Master has a small game pad using Aimpad technology for analog control, which itself can work with tactile switches also.
Yeah, now that you mention it I remember seeing the kickstarter for that a while back. Couldn't afford to back it, and it doesn't look like it's out in retail yet, sadly. Oh well - at least it ought to arrive at some point :)
Posted on Reply
#13
VSG
Editor, Reviews & News
It's definitely more turquoise to match the switch stems
Posted on Reply
#14
Vayra86
TheLostSwede
Want his email address so you can complain in person?
On the other hand, maybe you should launch a product so we can all complain about how naff it is?
Its a criticism I've heard on this end as well over here regarding the new Lekker k/b. Color setting isn't exactly neutral.

I mean look at Noctua. People STILL complain about their poop coloured fans.
Posted on Reply
#15
TheLostSwede
VSG
Nothing wrong with him wanting to express his opinion.

Cooler Master has a small game pad using Aimpad technology for analog control, which itself can work with tactile switches also.
It's very easy to complain, but I dare anyone to make their own product and please every single person out there.
I've been involved in enough product development to know it's not easy.
Sure, the colours are odd, but it's a development board, not the final retail product and they did it to make it stand out.

Aimpad technology is not as good as what Wooting is doing and it's both more expensive and more complex, as you should know.

Valantar
No thanks, don't see the need for that. But anyone responsible for picking the colors of a mass-produced product really ought to have a good enough grasp of color theory to tell (even without having seen it IRL) that metallic deep blue and pastel turquoise* and yellow are going to clash dramatically. Even plain white would be harsh against that deep, rich blue tone. Mid or dark grey could work, as could black or even something "risky" like silver, but pastels? No. Sorry. If you don't think this is worthy of criticism, well, then we disagree. This is sloppy design, which is rather sad as ... well, design should be done by a designer. And a designer should know color theory.

* Unsure which photos to trust here - the top post's pics look turquoise, while the one you posted looks more teal or even mint green. Guess it depends on the camera's white balance. Anyhow, this doesn't change anything about just how harsh that clash is.
As mentioned above, this is a development prototype, so they picked the colours to stand out. The retail keyboards are likely to be traditional black. But you knew that, right?
The article is about the new technology, but I guess it would've helped if @VSG had pointed out it was a development board. I mean, I was at the Wooting booth when he was chatting with them, but it's possible they forgot to tell him.
I really don't think it's worthy criticism based on the facts I know, which if you'd clicked on my link, or the one in the article, would also have known. But I guess it's easier to trash something...

Shit, I criticise enough products myself, but in this case, the odd colour is for a reason. I'm sure Calder would be more than happy to listen to your feedback though, as he's that kind of guy. In fact, they're planning on giving some of the keyboards away to customers of the Wooting One and Wooting Two, based on how helpful they've been in terms of product feedback.
Posted on Reply
Add your own comment