Protean is a reactive, RGB screen, mechanical gaming keyboard that allows each key to be completely customised by you.
About this project
Let’s be honest, until very recently most keyboards have been one way, input only devices. The birth of RGB colour backlighting and programmable keys allowed for some customisation, but have you ever imagined a keyboard that could react to and change with your input?
Because Protean has a screen embedded in every key you can create your own unique interface, modifying key layout and function for any game or app. In-game events like spell cooldowns can generate real-time visual feedback that is displayed directly on the adaptive keys. And this is only the beginning.
This isn’t about staring at Protean, even though it looks pretty sweet! You don’t want to be distracted, you want to be informed. Much like driving down the road and having your car dashboard displaying all the information you need. It is right there on your keyboard. You see it without even looking at it. It’s thanks to you peripheral vision, you pick up all the cues without skipping a beat and if you do need a bit more information, a slight adjustment, all it takes is a glance. Like in your car when you need to know your speed so you don’t get that annoying ticket.
The next step in the keyboard evolution.
Protean is a next-gen, high-performance mechanical gaming keyboard, with screens built into keys which are fully controllable using our software, everything from icon design, colour and even the feedback you receive from gameplay.
Can you see it? Display vital information directly on your keyboard. Is my base under attack, am I low on ammo, mana, supply? When is my spell ready? Show cooldown timers right where you need them. The only limit is your imagination.
Now we are getting somewhere. But how does it all work? You play countless games with thousands of characters, builds, specs, tactics; there isn’t anything that can keep up with you, after all, you are a gamer! Or is there…?
The core and central nervous system to Protean. Axonn is the software that lets you customise Protean to your individual play style and needs. You can control the key layout, RGB lighting, key functions as well as the feedback that you see while gaming. But don’t worry if you’re not big into tinkering and just want to get going, we’ve got you covered with sensible defaults and some background magic so that you can hit the ground running. It fits together quite nicely and here’s how.
We know the best way to keep Protean future proof and constantly awesome is through an Open API, so we will be allowing devs and modders to integrate Axonn with any game or software program. We will be providing support and working with the community to have Protean running with most games. We have partnered with a few indie studios already and continue to work with them to make this process as smooth as possible. Here is a rundown on communication pathways and how it all comes together.
For decades gamers have been leading the charge to create greater games and have been pushing to keep peripherals up-to-date to match. We have seen a lot of progress, designing and manufacturing better and better peripherals. We are here to keep that charge going and keep us ahead of the game. Check out the health integration, but please ignore the terrible aim.
With no key switch on the market capable of handling the power of Protean we turned to R&D ourselves to make sure Protean has the best available. The specially designed Protean key switch will come in both clicky and silent versions.
In addition each switch will be removable from the PCB to make the process of fixing screens or swapping switch types as easy as possible.
We continue to work with a leading Taiwanese manufacturer to create the best possible screens, and are constantly investing alongside them into this technology to ensure screens are of the highest quality. Our LCD screens with RGB backlight provide complete versatility through both icon and colour choice.
The “Override” switch, keeping you in control always. Three levels to choose from; Standard Mode, for those days when you aren’t feeling particularly dynamic or have yet to configure Protean for that game, it reverts to your default layout, Qwerty, Dvorak, Japanese or Klingon, whatever you like to type with. Protean Mode, well now, you already know what that does. Finally, Stealth Mode, lights off, presses on, for the truly hardcore working on muscle memory or those just in need of dimming the lights.
Whether you are an ANSI gamer or ISO, we have you covered with Protean. Actually, wherever you are in the world, Protean can have the keyboard layout you want in any language you want and change it on the fly.
Protean started out as a crazy idea in December 2014, when one Archtorian expected more from his keyboard and wouldn’t give up on the quest. Nearly two years later we are a team of eleven Archtorians working tirelessly to bring this idea to reality. Click here for the lowdown, or for a look into our weird and wacky world here are a few of the less camera shy Archtorians.
The journey so far has been exciting, but with a need to constantly adjust and balance. We have learnt a lot and now want to take that knowledge to bring Protean to the greatest community with the greatest people, gamers. We aren’t saying we have all the answers already, there are many ways we can improve Protean and Axonn, but we are listening and want you with us.
We now come to you through Kickstarter to ask for your help so that together we can bring Protean the rest of the way and complete this quest. With all the hard work that has gone into Protean so far, we still need to get ready for mass production, finish tooling, quality test all components and power up Axonn, to give you complete control and to ensure Protean is flawless.
We won’t settle for anything less than the best keyboard ever made.
Risks and challenges
We have planned, re-planned and spent months working with suppliers to ensure we get all components of the highest quality. However, it’s possible that our production schedule may alter due to unforeseen circumstances and the number of orders we receive. We commit to complete transparency along the way and will constantly be communicating progress both the good and bad to you as a backer and most importantly as an Archtorian.
We have completed the industrial design and have partially invested in tooling for mass production. We continue to explore potential upgrades on the hardware side and will make sure all decisions are made together with you.
With Axonn we have made excellent progress and have the foundations on which to build. The majority of additional funding we receive will go towards improving Axonn and adding additional features. We might not have every feature we have dreamt up ready to go right away, but we will continue to work on them and anything else you could envision. Because we want to build an awesome community you will be able to share and download anything created for Protean.
The only remaining challenge is shipping Protean. We have never done this before and although we have the plan in place there is potential for delays. Again, we will be completely open about the process the whole way through. We want you to be an Archtorian for life!