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Das Keyboard 5Q with cloud notification API smashes Kickstarter goal

Das Keyboard is one of the companies that popularized the modern mechanical keyboard for mainstream computer users, and now it’s taking to Kickstarter in hopes of being at the forefront of another shift. The Das Keyboard 5Q is billed as the world’s first cloud-connected keyboard, using smart RGB backlighting to relay information from online services.

The Das Keyboard 5Q is a full size 104-key board with per-key RGB backlighting. A desktop application (the Q App) allows you to modify the lighting as you like. That’s been done by many other boards before, but the Q App also plugs into online services like IFTTT, eBay, and more. You can essentially turn the LEDs into notification lights for all your content. For example, new emails can flash on key a certain color, or an entire group of keys. The same goes for any other notification you can think of.

Das is building an open API for the 5Q that will allow developers and users to add functionality without waiting for Das to do it for them. An in-developement website will serve as a hub for community-created features using the API. The volume knob on the 5Q is also a button that launches the Q App for easy configuration and review of your alerts. So, whatever you add to the keyboard, you can use the LED for general notifications and get more details in one press.

As for the mechanical keyboard part of this project, Das has adopted a new type of tactile (non-clicky) switch called the Gamma Zulu. These switches are manufactured by Omron, the same company that makes Logitech’s Romer G. In fact, the Gamma Zulu looks exactly like the Romer G with an LED conduit down the center of the keycap, which makes for much brighter and more even backlighting.

According to Das, the main difference between Romer G and Gamma Zulu is that its switches have a slightly larger travel distance. I don’t personally love the Romer G switches, but the short travel is one of my main issues with them. Also be aware these switches use non-standard keycap stems, so you won’t be able to replace them with other caps.

The Das keyboard 5Q has already smashed through its $100,000 funding goal — it’s more than doubled that so far. The minimum you can pay to get a keyboard is $139. The final price will be $249 when the 5Q ships in January 2017.

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