Computer mouse brand Finalmouse took customization to a wacky level, showing off a new keyboard with an interactive screen beneath a transparent layer of keys and switches. The results were astonishing.
Customizing a mechanical keyboard mostly boils down to changing the keys or picking a new color mode for the RGB LEDs. But with the Finalmouse Centerpiece, as it’s called, you can have the display show a moving cityscape at sunset, a space shuttle taking off, or some abstract 3D animation.look at Announcement video (opens in a new tab), these skins can be replaced at any time. As mentioned earlier, some are interactive. For example, a koi fish skin makes an on-screen water effect ripple when you press a key, while another creates sparks as you type.
The interesting thing about these skins is that they are made of Unreal Engine 5 (opens in a new tab), a free downloadable 3D graphics creation tool used in a number of video games. Finalmouse states that artists will be allowed to create and upload their own skins on the Centerpiece’s display, or submit them to the Freethinker Portal app on Steam at launch. You can download up to three skins to the keyboard and switch between them using the buttons on the side.
The video points out that artists can monetize their work or trade it with friends. It’s unclear how monetization will work, but Finalmouse does hint at some sort of in-app store.
The interior of the keyboard is equally fascinating. Centerpiece has its own CPU and GPU, so it doesn’t take any resources from your computer. It looks like you’ll be able to play games on the keyboard. One scene in the announcement shows someone controlling a running lion with the D-pad.
Speaking of which, the keys aren’t made of plastic, but a proprietary tempered glass called Laminated Display Glass Stack (LDGS), encased in an aluminum chassis. If vulnerability is your concern, Finalmouse says the LDGS “can withstand intense abuse…” If you obviously want to slam the Centerpiece in anger (don’t do that).
Competitive gamers will enjoy the custom mechanical switches in the keys. They have been developed together with Gateron, the renowned keyboard switch brand, to ensure fast response times.There will also be another Centerpiece model accompanying the Hall Effect (opens in a new tab) The sensor in its switch is for users who want extra speed.
Despite all this information, there are still many lingering questions. For starters, how can people type on this keyboard when it’s all blank? Maybe a text style skin? We also don’t know the size of the keyboard, the brightness of the display (though it appears to be dimmable), the refresh rate or even the resolution. The Finalmouse Centerpiece will be available in early 2023 for $349. Hopefully we’ll have more info before then.
Until then, be sure to check out TechRadar’s recently updated List of the best gaming keyboards for the upcoming year. While none of them are as ostentatious as Centerpiece, they’re certainly worth a look.