October 12, 2018 // 11:18 a.m.
Cooler Master's gaming arm has announced a new peripheral, the ControlPad with 'analogue Aimpad technology', and has chosen to take to crowdfunding site Kickstarter to fund its production.
At its heart, Cooler Master's ControlPad is a 24-key additional keyboard, designed for those using tenkeyless keyboards or who simply find a standard-sized keyboard doesn't have enough keys for their tastes. The board includes a choice of Cherry MX Red or Gateron Red mechanical microswitches and can be programmed with macros using Cooler Master's bundled software.
Where it differs from the competition is in Cooler Master's 'Aimpad technology', which gives the keys analogue rather than digital control. Showing up on the system as both a keyboard and a gamepad, the ControlPad allows for keys to be pressed gently and used as an analogue input - allowing the user to slowly creep around a corner in a first-person shooter, for example, or control brush width in an illustration package.
'Designed as a passion project from the ground up', claims Cooler Master's Bryant Nguyen, 'ControlPad aims to change the way we interact with our most used programs and applications on a more intuitive scale.'
Cooler Master's claim that it is the 'world's first PC keypad' misses one key point, however: The Wooting One mechanical keyboard launched on Kickstarter in May 2016 and has since been replaced by the larger Wooting Two, both of which include full analogue control over the entire keyboard. For those who aren't looking to replace an existing keyboard, though, the ControlPad may be a sensible halfway house.
Like Wooting before it, Cooler Master appears to lack full confidence in its design: Rather than funding production of the ControlPad itself, it has taken the prototype to crowdfunding site Kickstarter with a request for $50,000 (around £38,000) in pre-orders, with prices starting at $55 (around £42 excluding taxes) for the Early Bird Special with Gateron switches and rising to $100 (around £75 excluding taxes) with Cherry MX switches. A $150 pledge level (around £113 excluding taxes) is also available, which provides four customised keycap sets rather than the usual single set.
More information on the ControlPad is available on Cooler Master's Kickstarter campaign page.