Wooting announced the Lekker switch, which both uses a Hall Effect sensor and offers full-range analog input. It’s amazing how technological innovations happen in tandem. This is happening at roughly the same time as Input Club’s Keystone keyboard project, which also employs both Hall Effect and analog technologies, via the group’s Silo Beam beamspring switch.
The Lekker switch uses technology that is fundamentally different from Wooting’s existing analog sensing keyboards, the Wooting One and Two. That’s unfortunate for those who were hoping to hot-swap Lekker switches onto those keyboards to replace the Flaretech switches that are there presently, but the new technology promises a leap in analog sensing capabilities.
Whereas Flaretech switches use IR to measure the keypress and assign analog value instead of a simple binary on/off command, Hall Effect sensors work when a magnet attached to the stem comes into close proximity with it. The nearer the magnet, the stronger the signal, and Wooting says it can convert that to an analog signal.
The company also says that this technology affords “full range analog input.” One of the limitations of the Flaretech implementation is that only about 2mm of the keypress can be analog. In a response to a comment on Twitter, Wooting wrote, “Full range analog means that there is no deadzone at the start or end. The amount of steps (1 byte) will probably remain the same. To give some perspective: 4 mm travel / 255 = 0.015 mm per step.”
The Lekker switch is linear. Although some prefer tactile and/or clicky switches (and for good reason), a linear keypress is inherent to both Hall Effect and analog technologies. It is a little heavier than a standard linear Cherry MX Red switch at 65cN, and it has a standard 4mm travel. The actuation point is 0.1mm-3.8mm, or at least that’s where it is in the beta specs. That means the switch can begin sensing input essentially immediately when you press it to within 0.2mm of the end of the travel.
It’s hot-swappable and plate-mounted. The housing is transparent (hello, RGB options), and the stem offers an MX-compatible mount so you can slap on your preferred aftermarket or custom keycaps. You can swap out the spring if you like, too.
The switch itself is made by Huano, and the Hall Effect sensor part of the design is manufactured by Major-Power (aka “mPower”), and it’s custom to Wooting.
What’s The Gameplan
Notably, Wooting developed the Lekker switch apart from an actual keyboard. Given that, like the One and Two, the Lekker and Hall Effect sensor necessarily require a complete end-to-end solution as opposed to a modification of an existing keyboard, that’s a bit surprising. But Wooting has grand plans for analog that go beyond just making its own devices. The company believes analog input is the way forward for keyboards, and the guys are trying to create ways to make that happen. The Lekker switch is part of that strategy; they want other keyboard makers to adopt it.
Wooting told me that there’s at least one such keyboard in the pipeline, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it appear–in some form or another–at Computex next month. There’s a product release scheduled for after the show, in any case. Wooting also told me that there is a working sample already, and there are plans to have beta testers use the switch in real-life situations.
Getting keyboard makers to implement the Lekker switch may be difficult. It’s not like a mainstream keyboard maker can just add the Lekker switch as an option like it could Cherry vs. Kailh; it requires a completely unique design. That’s expensive, and with no guarantee of wide sales, it’s going to be too big of a risk for most companies. It’s a classic chicken and egg problem: Wooting can’t prove sales until it has a keyboard, and it will struggle to get a keyboard until it can prove that there’s ROI to be had.
Ideally, this first product will prove the point. Then, the task for Wooting will be to build their own, or convince more keyboard makers to follow suit.