I’m a professional writer and unapologetic keyboard nerd, but my typing form is atrocious. I flunked typing class and, over 15 years, evolved from a hunt-and-pecker into a Frankenstein touch typist by the application of thousands of hours of typing. I can just about hit 60 WPM. This keyboard, which teaches typing in a way Doc Frankenstein would love, is for me.
The operator of YouTube channel 3DPrintedLife is showing off his unique creation: a mechanical keyboard that senses your hand position via capacitive touch sensors. It also clocks your letter and word rate as you type into its test, displayed on a small LCD screen. If the keyboard detects you fingers straying too long away from the home row, or your rate of words is too low and errors to high, it zaps you right through electrical contacts wired into the T and Y keys. LEDs at the top of the board warn the user when the shock is coming—if you’re fast enough, you can correct your form and avoid the shock.
The system is build on a cheap Pictek mechanical board connected to a Raspberry Pi Zero, which interprets the data from the sensors, runs the “typing game” on the small screen, and administers the shocks. Don’t worry, the shocks are harmless: The builder repurposed the battery and contacts from a joke shocking pen (similar to a handshake buzzer) to make the project.
If the keyboard seems sadistic, its principles are sound: Applying pain to undesirable behavior is a well-documented means of modifying that behavior. (It’s currently out of favor in psychological and scientific circles, because, well, duh.) The software running everything is actually pretty impressive in the way that it detects hand position and determines when to shock the user.