GIGABYTE Launches Splash-Proof AORUS K9 Optical Keyboard with Infrared Switches

GIGABYTE Launches Splash-Proof AORUS K9 Optical Keyboard with Infrared Switches

GIGABYTE has introduced its second AORUS-branded keyboard aimed at gamers. The new AORUS K9 Optical, as the name implies, uses optical/infrared switches with all the advantages they can provide. All the keys are black and are backlit using RGB LEDs, but specifically for gamers the manufacturer includes frequently used nine orange keycaps made of PBT.

Harley E. Kelchner from Burroughs Corp. patented optical keyboard technology that used light-emitting diodes and photo sensors to register actuations of keys in 1960. Back then, optical detection of actuated keys was needed to reduce the noise generated by actuation of typewriter or adding machine keys. The technology has never become widespread, but was not forgotten.

In the recent years, developers of mechanical keyboards and mechanical switches have been trying to differentiate their products, including experimenting with various ways to improve switches (or at least differente them from the Cherry MX). A couple of years ago Adomax demonstrated its Flaretech optical-mechanical switch that relied on the same principle as Mr. Kelchner’s keyboard in 1960, but used IR instead of light and also featured multiple components found in the contemporary mechanical switches to make the new switch feel like a mechanical one (hence, the name).

On paper, there are numerous advantages that an optical switch should have over a classic mechanical one. Firstly, it actuates and resets the switch at a precise travel point, ignoring the state of the metallic parts and therefore does it faster than almost any mechanical one. Secondly, it is easier to make them splash resistant (or even waterproof) because all metallic parts in the switch play decorative roles and hardly affect performance. Thirdly, such switches promise to have a longer lifespan due to absence of critical mechanical parts (still, since mechanical parts affect user experience, their lifespan is important). In fourth, they are more proof against dust and dirt, again, because of the lack of critical mechanical parts.

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