Smart keyboard has integrated screen and crowd-based mod-ability
Canadian company Work Louder thinks the humble keyboard can do a lot more than we've seen from it over the past six decades or so. The firm has loaded its Nomad keyboard with a widget-based screen and a crazy amount of customization thanks to a community-based approach.
If there was ever any doubt that the world is hungry for a better keyboard, the initial success of the Nomad puts the question to rest. The turbo-charged typing device hit its goal of raising US$18,331 on Kickstarter in just 30 seconds and has now brought in over $210,000 in pledges. There are still 24 days left in the campaign.
The standout feature of the Nomad is a high-res 1.9-inch display that is built into the left side of the keyboard. The screen is meant to be used with a variety of widgets, although it will only ship with three: a Pomodoro timer, a Tamagotchi-style digital pet, and a clock.
If you're not familiar with Pomodoro, it's an approach to productivity that uses timers to indicate periods of focus followed by short breaks, or rewards. While the keyboard will only have these three widgets baked in, Work Louder will be allowing third parties to build their own widgets, so ways to use the display will be limited only by the imaginations of developers.
That same open-source philosophy will also permeate an accompanying no-code configuration tool called "Input," which will allow Nomad owners to map routines and shortcuts to various keys and knobs on the keyboard. While any of the standard keyboard keys can be used for these functions, the Nomad will also have four blank keys that can be programmed for any function as well as three programmable knobs which can be used for features like turning brightness and volume up and down, changing the size of a paintbrush in a graphic design program, or really whatever the user requires.
Keymaps created in Input can be shared and used by any Nomad owner. Thanks to an onboard 16MB memory, keymaps and widgets loaded onto the keyboard will travel with it as users take it from place to place.
The keyboard can be connected to three different Bluetooth devices at once or it can be connected via a USB C wire, which also charges it. There's also a built-in buzzer that can indicate when it's time to take a break if you're using the Pomodoro timer or, as you may have guessed by now, you can also come up with your own ideas on how to use the sound.
A nice unexpected bonus is that the pillar found on the back of the keyboard, that's used to tilt it forward, is actually a detachable magnetic ruler.
The keyboards will be available to ship in four language configurations other than English – French, German, Spanish, and Italian – although the company expects there to be more languages created based on demand. Nomads will work with iOS, Mac, PC, and Linux operating systems.
While the early-bird rewards are all gone, Work Louder is offering "on-time bird" rewards that give backers a $30 discount. This brings the price to a still-mighty CA$468, or about US$344. While that seems awfully high for a keyboard, it's actually a bargain compared to another recently-launched keyboard on Kickstarter that has the eye-watering price of US$655.
Of course, all of the usual cautions apply when backing any Kickstarter project, although Work Louder has a previous track record of bringing products to market, so pledging your cash for the Nomad seems like a fairly safe bet.
If all goes according to plan, the keyboards should ship in January 2024.