Using Light to Detect Key Presses
HWM Singapore|May 2017

How optical switches work and why you should care.

Koh Wanzi

Mechanical keyboard may not have been designed with gaming in mind, but they are now practically synonymous with it. After all, they’re more durable and reliable, and the different switch types mean that there’s probably something for everyone. And even if all that didn’t matter, the longer travel distance and tactile feel they offer make them simply more enjoyable to type on than mushy membrane switches.

Still, these switches – including everything from Cherry MX to variants like Logitech’s Romer-G and SteelSeries’ QS1 – are not without their weaknesses. Metal contacts wear out, and poor implementations of debounce time can either result in high latencies or repeated key presses.

WHAT ARE OPTICAL SWITCHES?

That’s where optical switches come in. These switches use light for actuation instead of a mechanical connection, and promise even greater longevity, robustness, and responsiveness.

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