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PAX East 2020 Preview: Whirlwind FX’s Element LED keyboard

If you haven’t noticed, the LED keyboard market is kinda crazy. Even at PAX East, I saw at least four or five booths that were offering some form of LED keyboards, and it’s kind of hard to see a huge differentiating feature from one to the next. But Whirlwind FX’s Element keyboard looks to distance itself from the competition.

Whirlwind FX has developed technology it calls the Ex Engine that analyzes on-screen video to create dynamic illumination that’s synchronized to various things happening during gameplay, say a bomb exploding near your character, for instance.

Each game has its own script that can be completely customized to add new dynamic lighting effects, like to radiate a red glow when your character is getting low on health or maybe to emit a green pulse when you pick up a health pack.

The scripts are nestled within the Element program that you install during the setup process, which allows users to add new game compatibility. Whirlwind FX already supports popular PC games, like Fortnite and Overwatch, but users can easily create their own scripts with some Javascript and HTML 5 knowledge.

In the future, Whirlwind FX hopes the community will begin creating its own content, which they can submit for approval within the program, and, once approved, will be released for the rest of the community to install.

At Whirlwind FX’s booth, they had a cluster of about 20 Element keyboards synced together on a wall that were connected to a TV playing various videos, but the keyboards were able to display the video themselves, becoming a second screen of sorts. It was pretty wild, and we had them pull up a Streets of Rage 4 trailer just to see what it could do, and you can check it out in the above video.

They were kind enough to provide us with a unit for review, so expect that to be published in the coming weeks. If you don’t want to wait, you can go ahead and purchase the Element keyboard for $99.99 here.

Chris Powell

Chris is the editor-in-chief of Mega Visions Magazine and the co-creator of SEGA Nerds. Over the years, he's written for publications like Joystiq, PSP Fanboy, RETRO magazine, among others. He's also an avid pro wrestling fan, and it's still real to him, dammit.

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