The Das Keyboard 5Q is a cloud-connected computer keyboard that is designed as a notification device as much as it is a keyboard.
Das Keyboard is one of the most popular mechanical keyboard brands. I have one (with characters printed on the keys), and love it. You can read my review of Das Keyboard Model S here. I bought the keyboard back in 2012 and have been using it ever since.
Das Keyboard 5Q is a different kind of keyboard even though it shares characteristics with previous keyboard models.
First, it is pushed on Kickstarter, and the campaign seems to be going well. The project sits at $275k already which is $175k more than the required amount of $100k.
Second, and probably more important, it is cloud-connected and capable of displaying notifications by changing key colors on the keyboard.
Das Keyboard 5Q
So what is the Das Keyboard 5Q exactly, and how does it differ from traditional keyboards?
Das Keyboard 5Q is a cloud-connected, open API RGB mechanical keyboard that allows each key to be color-controlled over the Internet.
Basically, what it does is act as another means of receiving notifications from the Internet. Each RGB LED can be color-controlled remotely to highlight information to the user sitting in front of the keyboard.
The notification system is powered by [Q]app, a desktop program that is connected to the cloud. The cloud part of the service taps into the first party service [Q]cloud and third-party services like IFTTT or Zapier.
You can map keys to notifications, and there is virtually no limit to what you can do. Push email notifications to the E-key, highlight the build status of projects on the B-key, or use the auction tracker to get notifications when you are outbid.
I have to admit that I'm not the target audience for the keyboard. I prefer to work without being interrupted by notifications, and imagine that a (blinking) mess of colors on the keyboard would be quite distracting.
My main issue with the new keyboard is that it is of little use to me, and likely to the bulk of desktop users out there.
While it may be less distracting to get some notifications on the keyboard instead of a phone or desktop notifications, it might even be more distracting once you start adding more than a handful.
If you configure a lot of notifications for use with the keyboard, you may end up with a blinking nightmare that prevents you from working effectively.
I imagine there is an option to flip the notification system off completely, but could not find the information on the Kickstarter page. The only information provided is that you can use the keyboard without cloud connection to use it as a regular keyboard.
I also could not find information about privacy and security. Cloud-services may open up the gate for attacks or at least privacy issues.
Also, you run the [Q]app on the desktop all the time as it powers the functionality, and it remains to be seen how secure and effective it really is.
Ultimately, I cannot see this being much more efficient than using desktop notifications for important notifications, or even checking your phone occasionally.
While I'm not entirely sure if possible, what I like about it is that it allows me to map different colors to different keys on the keyboard.
The Das Keyboard 5Q project is funded already which indicates that there is demand for such a keyboard. It certainly has a wow-factor associated with it. I'd buy one probably if it came without cloud-connection as I can see uses for displaying keys in different colors.
Now You: What's your take on a cloud-connected keyboard?