Computer mice brand Finalmouse is taking customization to an eccentric level by revealing a new keyboard with an interactable screen underneath a layer of transparent keys and switches. And the results are pretty striking.
Customizing mechanical keyboards mostly comes down to changing the keys or picking out a new color pattern for the RGB LEDs. But with the Finalmouse Centerpiece, as it’s called, you can instead have the display show a moving cityscape at sunset, a space shuttle taking off, or some abstract 3D animation. Looking at the announcement video (opens in new tab), these skins can be swapped out at any time. Some, as alluded to earlier, are interactive. The koi fish skin, for example, causes the on-screen water effect to ripple whenever you press a key, while another makes sparks fly as you type.
What’s interesting about these skins is that they’re powered by Unreal Engine 5 (opens in new tab), a free-to-download 3D graphics creation tool that’s seen use in a ton of video games. Finalmouse states artists will be allowed to create and upload their own skins on the Centerpiece’s display or submit them to the Freethinker Portal app on Steam when that launches. You’ll be able to download up to three skins to the keyboard and switch between them using the buttons on the side.
The video states artists can monetize their creations or trade them with friends. It's unknown how monetization will work, but Finalmouse does allude to some kind of in-app store.
The inside of the keyboard is just as fascinating. The Centerpiece has its own CPU and GPU so it won’t take up any resources from the computer. And it looks like you’ll be able to play games on the keyboard itself. One scene in the announcement shows someone controlling a running lion with the arrow keys.
Speaking of which, the keys aren’t made from plastic but a type of proprietary tempered glass called Laminated DisplayCircuit Glass Stack (LDGS) encased in an aluminum chassis. If you’re worried about fragility, Finalmouse states LDGS is “able to withstand intense abuse…” if you apparently feel like slamming the Centerpiece in anger (don’t do that).
Competitive gamers will enjoy the custom mechanical switches in the keys. They were developed alongside the notable keyboard switch brand Gateron to ensure fast response times. There will also be another Centerpiece model that comes with hall-effect (opens in new tab) sensors in its switches for users who want that extra bit of speed.
Despite all this information, there are still a lot of lingering questions. For starters, how can people type with this keyboard when it's all blank? A text-style skin, perhaps? We also don’t know the size of the keyboard, how bright the display is (although it looks like it can be dimmed), its refresh rate, or even the resolution. The Finalmouse Centerpiece launches in early 2023 for $349. Hopefully, we’ll get more information before then.
Until then, be sure to check out TechRadar’s recently updated best gaming keyboards list for the upcoming year. While none of them are as ostentatious as the Centerpiece, they’re certainly worth a gander.