King's Assembly puts keyboard, mouse and joystick at your fingertips
By Nick Lavars
February 17, 2014
For those who play video games, a fraction of a second, say, the time it takes to move your hand from keyboard to mouse, can be enough to lose a soldier, building or entire army. For this reason keyboard shortcuts have become an important weapon in the gamer's arsenal, but what if our commands could be streamlined even further? With this objective in mind, a US-based engineer and founder of Solid Art Labs Eric Charlton has designed the King's Assembly, an input device which allows control over a keyboard, mouse and joystick simultaneously.
The King's Assembly system comprises two devices, one for each hand. They both sport a keyboard with 30 keys, a thumb module with five keys and 2-axis analog joystick and a contoured palm rest designed to enable movement of the device while keeping your fingers free.
The mouse cursor is controlled by a Pixart 9800 optical laser sensor in each unit, which when coupled together combine the motion of each hand to display the one cursor on screen. The thumb joysticks can act as both a standard analog joystick or as a vertical or horizontal mouse scroll wheel, while teflon pads on the bottom are designed to allow the device to slide smoothly across your desk.
The device uses Cherry ML mechanical keyboard switches, while key-mapping can be configured in-browser and stored on each device's Atmel AT90USB128 chip, meaning there is no need to install software or drivers. The company says the number of keys that can be pressed simultaneously is only limited by the user's OS, and a special register key allows a second set of assignments, increasing the amount of key mappings from 70 to 139.
No batteries are required, as the King's Asembly uses a wired USB connection, while a custom-built interconnect consisting of a 4-wire cable and standard 2.5 mm plugs allows the two to communicate and act as one input device.
According to Solid Art Labs, the contoured palm rest has been developed to suit a variety of hand sizes, and while the two devices when paired together allow extra functionality, they can also be used on their own.
The system bears some resemblance to the Combimouse we looked at recently, which similarly is designed to combine multiple devices into one instrument, though Charlton goes one further by incorporating the joystick and in effect, another level of input control.
The King's Assembly is compatible with any OS that recognizes USB devices and with a functioning prototype in hand, Solid Art Labs has turned to Kickstarter to bring it to market. Pledges of US$200 are available with shipping estimated for September 2014 if everything goes as planned.
It is worth noting that a stretch funding goal of $250K has been set, which if reached, the company aims to use to develop a completely wireless version.
You can hear from Eric Charlton in the team's pitch video below.