Razer is arguably best known for its gaming keyboards that have proven to be reliable and popular among professional gamers across the globe. A big factor of that success is what lies beneath the keys. In fact, you could say the company’s drive to develop and build the best mechanical switches in the industry is the key factor that has lead to Razer’s success.
TechRadar recently sat down with Kushal Tandon, product manager, for keyboards and Chroma at Razer to discuss the company’s approach to the mechanical keyswitches so many of us know and love. Below is a transcript of the interview. It has been edited for length and clarity.
TechRadar: Razer just rolled out its third mechanical keyswitch, with Yellow for silenced keystrokes, what has this three year journey been like?
Kushal Tandon: The yellow switch is something we are really proud of and excited to announce. It’s a switch that’s been in development for a very long time.
When we first designed Razer mechanical switches – way back in 2014 – we designed based on a lot of the feedback we got from pro gamers, hardcore keyboard enthusiasts, and those who have been using the BlackWidow family for years.
The BlackWidow family was first announced in 2010, and it set the standard formechanical keyboards that were designed for gaming. It was back then that we used best in class mechanical switches, Cherry MX. We love Cherry switches and have been using them for awhile.
Through feedback from our users, we learned how they wanted the [Cherry MX] switch to be improved. The fact of the matter is, Cherry MX switches were designed for typing. We subsequently started designing multiple switches, and the Razer Yellow is one that’s been in development for a long time.
We just recently launched it because development was about perfecting it and it was only now that we thought that switch was perfect.
KT: It’s been a very complex, very interesting journey. We jumped right into the actual component level of manufacturing our switches. We have our own dedicated production line.
We own the blueprint for all of our mechanical switches, which is why each switch is perfectly designed and crafted to meet a specific need or want.
What made the journey so interesting is that after we acquired the knowledge from all of the research and development, we learned from manufacturing the switches at the component level, allowing us to think outside the box.
It allowed us to implement this technology in places where one would never think mechanical keyswitch technology could be implemented.
Once you go mechanical, there’s no going back. Once you sit at your desk, typing on your clickity-clack mechanical keys, there essentially is no turning back. We asked ourselves “How do we take that experience and transform it into a device where it can fit into something as thin as an iPad case?”
That was only achieved by all the years we put into our mechanical switches for the BlackWidow line.
KT: It’s all about understanding what our customers want, and what our fan base or users want. It starts with gathering feedback from them.
Our first switch was started based on feedback we received in terms of how people wanted to improve a switch which was great for typing, but didn’t specifically meet the demands of gaming.
The Razer Yellow switch was designed with FPS and mobile gamers in mind. We felt that the Green and Orange switches were perfect all around switches. They were best for gaming and typing. The green is clicky, the orange is tactile and silent.
For a specific FPS and mobile mode, there was a slightly different requirement. It all starts with feedback, then we work towards what technology we can implement and bring to market.
We are big fans, some of us in the office, and we all experience typing on the mechanical keyboards and miss it when we are typing on our tablet. That was actually was sprung the iPad keyboard to life.
TR: Speaking of the iPad keyboard, have you guys ever considered creating an iPhone case/keyboard combo to compete with Ryan Seacrest’s Typo iPhone case from a few years ago?
KT: I can’t really comment about anything we are working on in terms of future products, but nothing we are doing at the moment is working towards bringing mechanical switches to mobile phones.