Computer hardware has developed so much over the years that it's perhaps remarkable how little one of the most popular interfaces to connect with it has changed. Sure, key movement has become smoother, we have backlighting and we can use software to modify what specific keys do, but keyboard functionality itself has changed little.
With touch-screen devices, we have the alternative of on-screen keyboards, which can be more adaptive, but they lack the reassuringly tactile feel and precision of real keys. But here's a project that seeks to provide the best of both words, giving the computer keyboard the update it's been crying out for (need a new input device now? See our pick of the best keyboards around).
Australia-based Flux Group has developed a prototype for a device that it says will "reinvent the keyboard", by adapting to "any software, any language and any style." The device has a module of transparent maglev keyswitcheshe that be swapped between tactile and linear keyhs and removed for cleaning.
The keys cover an integrated Full HD IPS display that automatically switches between profiles to show keyboard shortcuts and macros for different software programs and languages. There are ready-made customisable layouts for popular applications, such as Adobe's Creative Cloud programs, but the user can also build their own custom layouts for other software. Users can also set the display to show any background image, video or an interactive style.
The keyboard can be changed physically too. Up to 4 different modules can be attached to add a window to display information or smooth dials like those on a mixing desk.
Now, we've seen attempts to make keyboards that include shortcuts for creative workflows before, but some have looked a little impractical (remember that attempt to launch a 319-key keyboard for Photoshop?) The Flux Keyboard prototype keeps the general layout of a traditional keyboard but makes it more flexible, and for multiple programs not just one application.
This one looks like it could actually be a game changer for creatives that use a range of software and for gamers too. The removable, easy-clean panel alone will be a win for anyone who has the habit of eating lunch at their device, and adaptive keys could be a revolution for creatives, saving the use of a secondary QMK / VIA compatible keyboard for hotkeys.
The Flux keyboard is currently open to backers on kickstarter, where it's raised $2.8m in pledges so far. Can't wait? See the best prices on our favourite keyboards below.