For the last fifteen years or so, custom mechanical keyboards have been getting more and more wild. From artisan keycaps to super-specific switches to 3D-printed cases, we’ve seen it all. Well, we thought we had, until we saw this. The Finalmouse Centerpiece Keyboard features completely transparent mechanical keycaps and switches, resting on top of a fully-functional LCD screen. Why? Why the hell not?
The keyboard’s pre-loaded video skins react to the user’s typing, very much like a gaming keyboard, but the CG videos underneath can dynamically shift in real-time as they’re built in the Unreal game engine. New skins (free and paid) will be made available via a Steam app. The screen and video run on a CPU and GPU internal to the keyboard itself, with no resources taken from the attached PC. Up to three videos can be loaded and selected on the hardware.
How does it work? Finalmouse says that the screen uses a “Laminated DisplayCircuit Glass Stack.” What it looks like is a super-thin, transparent membrane beneath the switches that house hair-like electrical wiring, establishing the matrix circuit required for the keypresses to register. It’s a remarkable redesign of some fairly basic keyboard components, all sitting on top of the LCD screen.
The 65-percent board is housed in a customized CNC-milled case, with controls for the screen embedded in the side. The keys and screen itself are gasket-mounted, with linear switches based on the BlackInk design. Finalmouse says the board is “completely gamer-proof and able to withstand intense abuse,” though exactly what that means isn’t mentioned.
Shockingly, Finalmouse’s video says the keyboard will cost $349 when it goes on sale early next year. That’s a lot for a standard mechanical keyboard, but it’s less than the price of a lot of custom, boutique builds — a GMMK Pro with all the trimmings comes in at the same price, for example. Note that in order to get that mesmerizing screen, you’ll have to give up a few of the premiums associated with high-end boards, like a dedicated knob, wireless options, and swappable switches.
But who cares? If you want to get those upvotes on /r/battlestations, you’ll need the coolest, most ridiculous keyboard around. And as of 2023, that’ll be the Centerpiece. Until someone finds a way to let you literally type on water, I suppose.
Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.