I really like the keyboard and mouse, but I often miss analog controls. I grew up with the Nintendo 64 controller, which is a monstrosity. But it normalized an input method where you can control the velocity of your character on a granular level. Keyboard switches, however, are either on or off. They are one or zero. But Cooler Master wants to change that with its new ControlPad device with analog switches that respond to your pressure. And with support from fans and curious hardware enthusiasts, it is going to get the chance to do just that.
Cooler Master launched a crowdfunding project for the ControlPad on Kickstarter last week. That campaign had a goal of $50,000, and it has surpassed that just five days later. With 39 days to go, more than 650 backers have pledged at least $56,000. That means people who backed at the $80 tier or higher should start getting their ControlPad devices in May.
This also should lead to Cooler Master producing ControlPad for retail.
How ControlPad works
The ControlPad uses Cooler Master’s Aimpad tech. This adds a separate sensor to traditional switches to tell how far down you have pressed them. If you press a key half way into its basin, the device will register that. Your onscreen character should then move at about 50 percent speed. This can also work with driving sims, flight games, and other genres as well.
Cooler Master gives examples of slowly moving a character in Counter-Strike around a corner. That’s opposed to flying around cover all at once.
Hundreds of games should work with ControlPad. Cooler Master has tested many of them. And it says that it should work even with games it hasn’t tested. That said, some PC games simply won’t have analog support because they never expected anyone to use a controller.
But even outside of games, analog keys could serve a purpose. In an app like Photoshop, for example, you could quickly change the pressure of your brush tool with a light press of a key. Cooler Master wants to serve that audience as well, and it plans to sell dedicated key sets with icons that correspond to different tools.
Whether or not all of this works well is another matter. I’ll have to go hands on with the ControlPad to see for myself. I’m interested in the idea, and I’m glad someone is trying it. Now, we’ll just have to see if the execution lives up to the promise.