View their kickstarter here - https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1917596122/x-bows-mechanical-ergonomic-keyboard
How Much Time Do You Spend Typing?
If you spend your work days in front of a computer, you have likely felt some discomfort after a long day of typing. While spending less time on our computers would be the ideal remedy for this problem, that is not a realistic solution for most people. X-Bows was designed to limit the stress on your hands and wrists while also providing a productive and stylish typing experience.
The Normal Keyboard Works Fine. Why Redesign It?The traditional staggered QWERTY layout was not designed to be comfortable. Its design comes directly from typewriters of the 1800s and very little about it has changed since then.The traditional keyboard layout causes our wrists to flex inwards at an unnatural angle while we type. With over-exposure, this wrist angling very often leads to discomfort or injury. We designed the layout of X-Bows to conform to our natural wrist angle and arranged the keys in an ortho-linear fashion (fancy way to say straight line) because that better aligns with the natural extension plane of our fingers. The reason that typewriters originally popularized the staggered key layout was so that their levers wouldn't jam - not exactly a modern concern.
X-Bows was designed with three criteria in mind:
Every decision we made was to fulfill one of these criteria. Here’s what we came up with:Cross-Radial DesignThe most noticeable and unique feature of X-Bows is certainly its key layout. The key columns are angled to promote a more natural angle for our wrists.Moving the ENTER, Backspace, SHIFT and ALT keys into the center of the keyboard achieves two things:
- Enhancing the comfort and ergonomics of the keyboard
- Limiting the learning curve for our new layout
- Creating an attractive design
We think it looks pretty cool too.
Limited learning curveDo you remember when you were learning to type? It takes a lot of time and practice to develop the muscle memory in our fingers that allows us to type quickly and accurately.X-Bows is not the first ergonomic keyboard ever created. Plenty of people have identified that the keyboard layout that we use could be dramatically improved. The biggest impediment to these keyboards gaining broader acceptance is that they require users to learn a whole new layout. Busy people inevitably get frustrated and revert back to their old keyboard when they need to work faster. Despite best intentions, a lot of ergonomic keyboards end up in a drawer never to be used again.With X-Bows, we were dedicated to making that learning curve as manageable as possible. The letter keys have not moved from their QWERTY layout. Your right index finger is still hitting “J” and your left ring finger is still responsible for typing “W”. You don’t need to memorize a new key layout, your hands already know where all of the letters are on X-Bows.The keys that we did move- ENTER, Backspace, ALT and Control- can also be found on the right side of the keyboard. We call these our “training wheel keys”. While we think that the keys in the middle are more convenient, as you’re beginning to type on X-Bows, it is no problem if you find yourself reaching for the backspace in the top-right. They are there while you adjust. Since X-Bows' keys are fully remappable, once you find yourself no longer needing these training wheel keys, you can program them to become shortcuts or macros; increasing your productivity even further!While you won’t be able to take X-Bows out of the box and feel 100% comfortable typing on it immediately. Our testers have all reported adjusting to the new layout in under a week, some in as little as two days. Compared to other ergonomic boards that can take a month or more to adjust to, X-Bows makes ergonomic typing more accessible than ever before.
- First, it limits stress on the pinky, our weakest finger. The thumb is very underused on traditional keyboard layouts so repositioning these keys utilizes it without adding undue stress.
- Second, it makes these keys much easier to reach. On traditional typewriters these keys didn’t exist, had limited functionality, or had completely different functions. They were simply tacked onto the side of the keyboard. Making these keys easier to reach allows you to get more done when you’re typing and reduces the need to move your whole hand to reach a key - one of the most fatiguing acts in typing.
Johnny, a developer in San Francisco was one of our first Facebook fans. We sent him a pre-production X-Bows and he reported being comfortable with the new layout in under a weekStylishWe didn’t want X-Bows to look like something that your doctor prescribed to you. We didn’t want it to look completely alien to the rest of your desk set-up. We designed X-Bows to have a minimalist aesthetic and a manageable profile. You can easily carry X-Bows with you for a day of work on your laptop outside of the office.
Our design has already caught the attention of some media:
Want to write about X-Bows? You can find media resources here
You can have a great design, but it can’t help anyone if the product is not well built. We carefully selected all of the materials used to construct X-Bows in order to optimize durability and comfort.
Mechanical SwitchesGateron is a relative newcomer to the mechanical switch game. Expert reviews of Gateron switches are overwhelmingly positive. The switches have an estimated lifetime of 50 million clicks- the highest on the market.With X-Bows you have the option of 4 different switch types ranging from loud and clicky to quiet and linear.
The interior of X-Bows features an aluminum alloy plate to prevent board flex and makes for a very solid feel while typing. The bottom of the keyboard is ABS plastic with 5 rubber pads to ensure that the board won't move around while you're typing. X-Bows weighs ~0.8kg. Keycaps
X-Bows uses ABS+PC two colour injection molding keycaps. In plain terms: they're nice, durable keycaps and the letters will never fade from them. USB CableX-Bows connects by a USB type C port. We will include a 150cm (just under 5 feet) long USB-C --> regular USB cord in the box.RGB BacklightingRGB backlighting is a controversial issue in the keyboarding community. Often, subpar boards try to make up for their deficiencies with a lot of bright, flashing lights. For this reason we don’t want to spend too much time on our lighting effects, but c’mon, these arepretty fun.
- Gateron Red switches are quiet with a linear feel and a 45gf actuation force.
- Gateron Blue switches have a tactile and auditory click when you press them (you can hear it in our video). 55gf actuation force.
- Gateron Black switches are linear, like the reds. They require a slightly heavier actuation force at 50 gf.
- Gateron Brown switches offer a tactile bump when pressed but don't have the auditory click that blues have. They require a 45 gf actuation force.
- New- Gateron Green switches- The Gateron Greens (my personal favourite) are a heavy, clicky switch. They are comparable to the Blues but with a higher actuation force of 80gf.
- New- Gateron Clear switches- The Gateron Clears are a very light lienar switch. Similar to the Gateron Reds or Blacks, only the Clears have a lower actuation force of 35gf.
- New- Gateron Silent Red Switches- A brand new switch, released just a few months ago. These are among the most silent mechanical switches on the market. They sound almost the same as typing on a laptop keyboard. They are a linear switch, requiring 45gf actuation force, just like the ordinary reds. To add the Gateron Silent Red Switches to your order, please add CA$20 ($17 USD) to your pledge.
PLAYX-Bows' start-up lighting sequence.X-Bows has 15 lighting movement effects with controllable brightness, speed, direction and colour. Of course, you can also turn them off.
PLAYUsing our software, you can also set individual keys to be lit in a designated colour. This is ideal for people who want to highlight their shortcut keys or those who like a creative, personalized lighting scheme.
An example of custom lighting on one of our older prototype boards.Features
SoftwareX-Bows has downloadable software for you to program the keyboard to your own specifications. You can rearrange the layout of the keys (DVORAK anyone?), set a key to become a shortcut (quick access to your inbox for example), or set a macro - one key to serve the function of a key combination (for example, if you’re mistake prone, you can set the pgdown button to become control+z). You can also set specific keys to have designated lighting - gamers might like a glow under WASD (though, we've found that ESDF works best for gaming on X-Bows) or designers might want to highlight their most frequently used shortcuts. At the moment, X-Bows' software is compatible with WIndows. We are currently working on capatability with Mac and Linux and anticipate it being complete before the end of the campaign.
A look at the X-Bows software. The interface may change before we ship.Anti-Ghosting“Ghosted keys” occur when several keys (usually 6 or more) are pressed at the same time and one or more strokes is lost because of the abundance of information going to the computer. Most people will never need to press 6 keys all at once, but for those that do, losing one or more of those key strokes is a major problem. X-Bows is 100% anti-ghosting in order to accommodate any key combination that you could possibly throw at it.
It has been great to hear from everyone who reached out to us in the run up to our Kickstarter campaign. We have received some really useful feedback and ideas. We are always open to more ideas. If there's another feature or add-on that you would like to see included in our campaign, please mention it to us in our backer comments or social media.Mac KeycapsDue to overwhelming demand, we will be including the option for Mac keycaps. We have reached out to some keycap producers and Mac keycaps are no problem to produce. We will include this as a free option in our backer survey.
Apple Layout with NumpadBlank KeycapsSome keyboard enthusiasts have reached out to us asking for a blank keycap option, with a dot to let the backlighting through. We're happy to oblige. This will also be a free option on the backer survey.
NEW- Regional Layout KeycapsWe will be offering UK, German and Nordic as regional layouts. We apologize to those of you who require other regional layouts as we just don't have enough demand to create the molds for them yet. After our campaign is finished, we will be able to offer additional regional layout keycaps on our web store with a significant discount to our Kickstarter backers.
Nordic LayoutWrist RestHow can an ergonomic keyboard not have a wrist rest? We heard you on social media and we completely agree. We have contacted manufacturers and will be creating the design pictured below. If you would like to include the wrist rest with your X-Bows, please add CA$30 ($25 USD) to your pledge.The rest is made from alcantarra and ABS plastic. It feels solid while also being soft.
This is a *GRAPHIC RENDERING*. We will release real photos of the numpad as soon as we can**Important edit- The numpad can connect wirelessly through a magnetic transmitter to the main X-Bows keyboard. As the connection is magnetic, the numpad should be in close proximity to the keyboard when working wirelessly. **Important Clarification- X-Bows purchased with the numpad will come with two magnetic connecter transmitters built into them (one on each side). This makes wireless compatability with the numpad possible. X-Bows purchased without the numpad will not have the magnetic connector transmitters. Our new numpad will be fully programmable and backlit, just like X-Bows. It is standalone and can work on the right or left side of X-Bows, as the connection is magnetic, the numpad should be closely positioned to the keyboard itself. There is also another USB-C connection on the numpad if you would like to use it separate from X-Bows. The numpad's backlighting effects are synchronized with those of X-Bows.
A sketch of X-Bows with our new numpadThe numpad will connect to X-Bows via a wireless magnetic transmitter or by a separate USB-C cable. If you use the magnetic transmitter, it will not require the use of a second USB slot on your computer.
This is a *GRAPHIC RENDERING* of the numpad's wireless magnetic transmitterThe numpad will be available for an additional pledge of CA$60 (~$50 USD). If you would like the numpad, you can make an adjustment to your existing pledge and then check off numpad on the backer survey at the end of the campaign.