Naive Keyboard

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

rmTizi on reddit, who created this curved keyboard, see

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Naive Keyboard 2560Γ—1440 [image source reddit]

this is based on Dactyl keyboard and others.

he plans to make it commercial, or at least small scale commercial.

You're welcome, your blog gave me lots of info that I use in my design, so I try to give back as I can.

On my issues with other ergo boards, note that I own/tried none of them, other than the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard series, for basically the same reasons: they all had something that disqualified them when I considered their price/time investment.

The Natural Ergonomic Keyboard on the other hand were always β€œcheap” and used the standard layout for the most part, so it was always easier to jump the gun on those.

Maltrons and Kinesis were for a long time the things that I wanted to buy, if I had the dispensable income for.

But when looking at their cost rationally, I could never justify them (remember that the Natural Ergonomic Keyboard was enough of an improvement to delay RSI issues).

Vacuum Formed plastic was just not premium enough for the price tag, specially on the Maltron, even if I now understand that it was basically the only viable way to produce contoured shells at the time of their design (injection/casting is eliminated because of the keyholes angles, they would lock the piece in the mold; and machining/sand molds is just too expensive in those shapes).

Otherwise their key position layouts always seemed perfect to me. Today I would add that I could not go back to a non split board, but at the time I didn't knew that that criteria would become important: my keyboard was split because of the size of my printer, not because I was looking for a split board.

Truly Ergonomic Keyboard

Then came the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard, I looooved its layout. Not perfect, but for the time (around 2010) it seemed like it would have hit the home run. Unfortunately, I am a savvy buyer, and I waited for proper reviews and consumer feedback, and those pointed out the quality issues, and then I saw the company go stupid on their reaction to those issues, so I passed on it as well.

Around the same period I became aware of the ergo dox, no F keys, eliminated. I mean it, I never even looked at how to buy one, I need my F keys. Now, I get that a lot of people are just fine using layers, and that's fine, I'm just not one of them.

Finally, Dactyl and Manuform. I found out about them when I bought my printer, looking for stuff to print. I became very exited about them. Even if their stock config wasn't good for me, the magic of 3d printing and open models mean that I could easily fix their issues, like adding F keys.

Once more, I was let down. After printing my test shells for the both of them and the hybrid, I realized something: They simply didn't fit my hand. No matter how much I played around with their parameters, they just wouldn't fit, and changing what I needed to change would have required me to go deeper in their source code than I was willing to do in clojure.

So, after a short attempt to port it to Fsharp, I remembered that I was rather good at 3d modeling, and felt it would be faster and give me more control over what was now becoming my own design, the Naive.

The rest is just what I wrote in the imgur album, it's also there that the only good pictures of it are. I own a white long haired cat, the keyboard is black, and thus after a few months I would need to completely disassemble it to make presentable for new pictures and I'm just too lazy for that.

However, given the positive feedback that I received, with people PMing me asking to buy one, and being in between careers, I then decided to give it a shot at making it commercially available.

I'm currently in the process of designing tooling and machines that will allow me to print the keyboard already assembled, fully automated and removing the cost of labor from the venture.

A second advantage of that automation is that I will be able to make every board bespoke to the customer hand size, just from a flatbed scan of their hands.

This might become the most important point of the whole thing. I theorize that a big part of what prevent contoured keyboards to reach a wider appeal is that everyone having different hands, with different finger ratios and different spread angles makes "standard size" futile.

That works for flat keyboards because we kinda are in the mindset of adapting our hand to the tool in that case. But with a contoured, we kinda expect the keys to fall properly in place, from the neutral position to full extension, without having to move anything but the fingertips.

If everything goes right and the stars align properly, I should be able to handle about a half a dozen of orders per month initially, with a fully custom made board just below the price point of the Kinesis by early 2019.

I'll make sure to send you proper pictures and maybe even a little bit more by that time.


2018-06-01 reddit

See also:

Xah Keyboard Guide