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The World's Fastest Mechanical Switch

The OmniPoint switch has completely redefined what it means to be the fastest keyboard in the world. Aside from having the highest ever actuation point at a mere 0.4mm, it also eliminates the limitations of debounce time, allowing it's response time to be optimized to an inhuman 0.7ms.

As we have previously discussed, the OmniPoint mechanical switch has ended the war for the "fastest" switch in the world with both it's record-breaking actuation and response time.

Not only are OmniPoint switches adjustable up to 5x faster than other keyboards, but their response time is 8x faster.

Apex Pro

Let's look at how standard mechanical switches work, and then explain how the OmniPoint switches respond so much faster.

Limitations of Mechanical Switches

The average response time of traditional mechanical switches has a lot to do with one major speedbump: debounce time (also known as input lag). This is the time it takes between physically pressing a key, and a signal being sent.

In other words, it's the time that passes between pressing a doorbell button, and hearing the ding.

Mechanical switches have metal contact points that touch when a key is pressed, thus instantly completing a circuit and registering a keypress. Fast and easy, right?

Well, it's not quite that simple.

Input vs. Sensor

Traditional mechanical sensors can sometimes get it wrong for any number of different reasons:

  • The switches can be physically jostled
  • The physical components can deteriorate over time
  • Other variables like static can cause the connections to accidentally make contact

These variables can all provide "noisy" or false positive inputs when using the keyboard.

Omron switch debounce

Is that first peak a keypress, or an accident? Is that two fast keypresses, or just one? This type of "noise" can result in false keypresses. (Photo:

The solution to noise

Keyboard manufacturers are smarter than to read every single connected current as a keypress. Doing so would mean mystery keypresses happening all the time due to the "noise" of the electric signals.

Instead, they rely on multiple scans of every input before making a judgment about whether the signal from a switch was actually a keypress, or it was just a false positive caused by the noise from the physical components and other variables.

This is why traditional mechanical keyboards average (at best) around a 6ms response time. This is the time it takes for the keyboard to make several scans of each key when it is pressed (or not pressed), and confidently determine an input.

To put 6ms in perspective, the blink of an eye takes around 100ms. So 6ms is pretty fast, right? The human eye can actually scan for change as rapidly as every 4ms.

OmniPoint: the fastest switch option

Creating the OmniPoint switch gave us the ability to kill 2 speedy birds with an even speedier stone: Hall Effect technology.

OmniPoint switch

The Hall Effect works by moving a magnet through a coiled wire, and measuring the generated current based on the precise location of the magnet.

Think of it like a dimmer switch on a light, instead of the "on/off" style from a traditional switch. It's simple, practical, and offers better performance than a traditional switch.

This analog approach eliminates input lag, since it only needs to be scanned by the keyboard once to send an accurate reading, instead of many times.

Over the years, Hall Effect technology has been used in aerospace, underwater, and military applications thanks to its durability, adaptability, and reliability.

OmniPoint switch minus keycap

Despite an endless potential for improving products, it has historically been too expensive (or too bulky) to mass produce for something as intricate as a mechanical key switch...until now.

We've recently upgraded our OmniPoint switches to OmniPoint 2.0, improving the actuation range, speed, and even adding a new feature, Rapid Trigger. This is available as a free firmware update for those who own OminPoint keyboards.

Benefit #1: Adjustable actuation distance

The main benefit of using this technology in a keyboard (in addition to significantly improved performance and reliability) is that it allows the sensitivity of each key to be adjusted. Think of adjustable actuation like being able to change the distance that you need to press down a doorbell before it decides to ring.

The OmniPoint switch can actuate at a distance as deep as 4.0mm, or as record-breakingly sensitive as 0.1mm.

Benefit #2: Response time

The second half of the OmniPoint's speed boost has to do with actually processing the analog signal that the sensor gathers. (AKA the time it takes for the doorbell to ding after you've pressed the button).

Aside from only needing to be scanned once instead of multiple times, we put a lot of effort into perfectly optimizing the response time to be faster than any other by connecting the analog to digital converter directly to the keyboard's main chip for lightspeed processing.

Apex Pro and wrist rest

To summarize, we used the Hall Effect technology to eliminate input lag in three ways:

  • With it's analog input, it only requires 1 scan of the keys to gather an accurate reading. No more multiple scans due to debounce.
  • A full scan of all keys happens every 700 millionths of a second.
  • The analog to digital converter is located directly on the keyboard's main chip (instead of the switches), so there is virtually no delay in converting the signal.

These factors add up to a never-before-seen 0.7ms response time, which is over 8x faster than the traditional mechanical switch, 5x faster than the human eye can perceive. Alongside it's 5x faster actuation, the Apex Pro is the new king of speed, by a lot.

The innovative OmniPoint switches are available on the Apex Pro,Apex Pro TKL, and pex Pro Mini