The initial product of Hakkei Inc. is the HX-Series, and is designed to give you a more natural, comfortable typing experience. Our HX-S Series is available in two versions: the standard version HX-S1, and the backlit RGB version HX-SR1. We wanted to create something that could offer a premium option for people who want an efficient way of typing without compromising on style. With more and more people turning to ergonomic devices to reduce risks of injury, HX-S Series is perfect for those who don't want to risk of injury from overusing their hands when typing for long hours.
Until now, you may have not known that our long-term goal goes beyond being a premium keyboard manufacturer- and you're probably wondering what is it all about then.
In the future, we intend to expand upon the applications of our core embedded technology to create an ecosystem of embedded input devices that include, but not limited to, affordable keyboard models for users of all levels.
That is because the overarching purpose of Hakkei is to provide healthier, more efficient ways people can interact with computers aimed at the inefficiencies that accumulate into significant losses of time and productivity that contribute to user fatigue. This change could lead us into an era where users are more productive because they're doing what needs to be done in a healthier way, without feeling overwhelmed by additional complexity.
Even so, some readers may question whether we even need a premium keyboard. Are people really in need of a premium ergonomic keyboard? Will society really be better off with this keyboard on the market? Well, no. Probably not. But that misses the point of why this technology should exist.
When Tesla Motors was starting out, their initial product was a high-end electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. Elon Musk's strategy of entering the high end of the market made for a sensible solution to enter a market that has a high barrier to entry. As a new company that intends to manufacture physical goods, it makes sense to take a similar approach with Hakkei. Now manufacturing an electric car is much more complicated and costly than keyboards, but on that note, almost any new product has a high initial unit cost before it can be optimized and this is no less true for computer keyboards.
Our long-term strategy then (as of now), is to first enter at the higher end of market targeting customers that are from technical and design-oriented fields and willing to pay a premium for cutting-edge products- which we deliver with excellent quality control measures. Once we establish ourselves here, the next step is for us to move as quickly as possible to higher unit volumes and lower prices with each successive keyboard model (or another kind of input device).
Without getting too far ahead of myself, the follow up Hakkei keyboard will be roughly half of the $309 price point of the standard HX-S1 keyboard. After that, the third model will be even more affordable than the previous, and so on. All available cash flow will be cycled back into our research, design, and development efforts to further drive down costs for components, and launch new products into the market as quickly as possible.
When someone purchases a Hakkei keyboard, they are funding the development of more affordable keyboard models. But a keyboard alone isn't going to have a huge impact- it needs to have technology that supports our purpose. More importantly, when someone purchases a Hakkei keyboard, they are supporting our vision of an open-source ecosystem of contributors who are creating customized interactions for a variety of applications.
Our vision is to create an ecosystem of embedded devices that allows you to quickly integrate with our configuration software using our APIs on the device level. With that, users can create custom interactions to increase the efficiency of different products or systems in a seamless way where graphical user interfaces are not able to solve otherwise.
Over the last decade, we've seen a trend towards user-centered design in graphical user interfaces and how they are optimized over time with new interaction techniques. This is often accomplished by focusing on human factors, ergonomics knowledge that applies to the intended use of the application.
Trends like this one will continue into 2022 as technology becomes even smarter about understanding usages based on patterns it may have tracked, and now the average American spends more than 13 hours a day interacting with interfaces across a variety of devices. As consumers, we have a lot of information to keep up with the trends.
Many technical roles rely heavily on advanced software where users spend most of their time interacting with web or native applications. The efﬁciency of this relationship depends on the interface between different software applications and input device effectiveness. And because the nature of this work is usually a repetitive process, even small imperfections can result to lost time which lead users becoming increasingly frustrated with their job; contributing significantly towards user fatigue.
But what if there was a way to make this process faster, simpler, and more effective? Imagine you were working with data sets using tables in Google Docs. It's likely that, on more than one occasion, your cursor will need to move from cell-to-cell either by selecting an element from the toolbar or swiping through neighboring cells. This is where shortcuts come in handy, but it will take practice using these advanced shortcuts before they become muscle memory and can save significant amounts of time. (Shortcut to move the cursor to the next column in Google Docs: holding Ctrl + Alt + Shift, press t then b).
Imagine a world where you could easily use your settings for the applications you use from anywhere. So for example, you create a configuration of shortcuts specifically for working with data sets with Google Docs or Tableau. You could use these keyboard settings on your personal devices and the computers at the public library, or shared workspaces at the office.
Critical to making this possible is having devices with onboard memory that can communicate with our APIs. With onboard memory, user can easily transfer their preferences from one device to another without installing third-party drivers. This is made possible by storing these settings in an individual’s device so it functions immediately when they connect them with computers.
You quickly store and access any sequence of complex commands into an input device- whether that be with keys on keyboards or gestures. The idea is to have any product from Hakkei be part of an ecosystem of API driven interfaces, so companies are able to implement custom interactions for a variety of applications. This will make it possible for more users with non-technical skills in their company to utilize internal specialized software— which until now either requires months of training or is only accessible by highly technical people.
The aggregated time companies and consumers can save becomes substantial over a one year period. We'll be able to deliver this in the future after we begin shipping our initial product and build the capital needed to maintaining such an API. Once this is possible, our addressable market suddenly opens up from technical and design oriented consumers to include an ecosystem of smart input devices that can interact with one another to further advance how people interact with our digital environments. And eventually, we can eliminate the inefficiencies that accumulate into significant losses of time and productivity that contribute to user fatigue.
This change could lead us into an era where users are more productive because they're doing what needs to be done without feeling overwhelmed by additional complexity. And that’s a vision we believe is worth fighting for.
One major challenge for the future is the efforts to presenting and explaining the technology and its usefulness to our users. By looking at the world with a global lens, we can better understand the needs of customers to foster a desire to embrace new technology in their daily routines.
The first thing we need to address is that software products have high capital requirements. This is even more true for native applications, where a different tech stack is needed to support different devices. The second is that there needs to be a lot of capital dedicated to making people aware and interested enough to try and then adopt the product into their daily lives.
Once users are able to experience the app for themselves, there will inevitably be pivots and changes in direction that affect how these are addressed our development team- but as new information comes into play, it has a greater chance at being adapted accordingly.
So our strategy is to leverage the web capabilities projects, aka Project Fugu, which is the collective effort from Google (together with partners like Intel, Microsoft and Samsung) in their efforts to push new browser API's so that it can have capabilities closer to native platforms. For the first year, when we started to determine if these APIs were feasible for a keyboard, I focused more so on the added convenience that web applications provide to users over native applications. Looking back now though, this was a narrow understanding of the API's underlying purpose.
Consider Google's official description of the web capabilities project:
"Through our capabilities project, we want to make it possible for web apps to do anything native apps can, by exposing the capabilities of native platforms to the web platform, while maintaining user security, privacy, trust, and other core tenets of the web."
Note that keyboard configurators are not a new concept- and for us, it serves as excellent entry point to introducing the technology to customers. They have been around for over a decade and used widely among customer keyboard enthusiasts and gamers. Razer has a configurator called Synapse, while Logitech has Options, to name a couple of them. There are also an increasing number of open-sourced options available such as QMK and VIA that are popular among enthusiast communities. The majority of these available options are native applications.
But consider the profile of someone who purchases a keyboard, or any kind of input device for that matter. Customers expect that a keyboard will work, well, as a keyboard. And although current configuration software enables users the ability to configure custom macros on their own, it is arguably a technical process with uncertain future advantages for the user in terms of time spent setting up- and even less incentive when you need to install the application on every device separately.
Critical to making this happen, our design focuses on our mission of eliminating the inefficiencies that accumulate into significant losses of time and productivity that contribute to user fatigue, which is why the design puts emphasis on two things:
1. Support more operating systems/devices than other competitors like Logitech and Razer, including mobile devices.
2. Easy-to-use interface and macros to assign macros/shortcuts that is more usable than QMK or VIA.
If we consider some advantages (and there are disadvantages) that web applications have over native application, web apps have the potential to reach a larger audience because it is not tightly coupled with any specific operating system. They are easy to use, and easy to share. There’s nothing to install. So, that's why our initial strategy to drive user adoption starts with browser APIs- which makes it possible for us to show users how it can improve their lives without the need for a large capital investment for sales and marketing efforts.
When someone purchases a Hakkei keyboard, it is immediately available to them on their device's browser, making highly accessible to everyone. It goes to show that we believe that we can provide our customers an excellent user experience and usefulness in order for them to develop an interest to learn how to use this technology in their everyday lives.
Our keyboard configurator is a PWA (Progressive Web Application) called Configur®. We make it possible for users to connect the keyboard to the application from all devices (with limitations) using a support browser and visiting https://configur.io. It works using an API from Project Fugu called WebHID- which enables connectivity between the keyboard and host using USB or Bluetooth.
If you are interested in our mission at Hakkei and helping us create a healthier, more ergonomically focused products that have a place in everyone's daily lives, please send us a message.