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Peratech says it's behind force-sensitive WASD keys on Lenovo Legion 7 and 7i

By Aaron Yip - on 2 Aug 2022, 5:02pm

Peratech says it's behind force-sensitive WASD keys on Lenovo Legion 7 and 7i

Image source: Peratech

If you've ever used a controller before, then you'll know what analog control feels like; the ability to move in increments based on how much you move the joystick. In a racing game, for example, you can control how much you turn in one direction with the amount of movement on the joystick.

It's this kind of control (or lack thereof) that excludes keyboard input from certain gaming genres like the aforementioned racing, as keyboards usually have binary on/off actuation that isn't as granular as analog control.

However, analog control on keyboards isn't unheard of either. Razer, Steelseries and Wooting are just some of the companies that have released analog-capable keyboards. And yet, this concept hasn't quite expanded to notebooks, and it's not hard to see why; the shallow key travel might mean analog control is just less effective on notebook keyboards, and the fact that manufacturers don't have much space to work with might also make it more difficult to cram fancy analog-sensing technology in there.

Peratech is the one behind Lenovo's 'Force Sensor' keyboard technology. (Image source: Peratech)

But when Lenovo released the seventh generation of its 16-inch Legion 7 and 7i gaming notebooks, it included a feature that functions quite similarly to analog control. The WASD keys on both notebooks have what Lenovo calls 'Force Sensor' technology that achieves a similar effect, that being the ability to move in increments in-game, rather than standard on/off actuation. Though it isn't a feature that's advertised heavily,  having only two mentions on Lenovo's webpage for the Legion 7 and 7i each, Peratech, a sensor-manufacturing company, has revealed itself as the one behind the feature.

Unfortunately, Peratech didn't exactly list how its technology works on the Lenovo Legion 7 and 7i in its press release, but based on the 'Force Sensor' name and the fact that one of the services Peratech offers are custom force sensing solutions, it's seems that, rather than the optoelectric and Hall effect-based methods companies use on analog-capable keyboards, the Legion notebooks use pressure sensitivity to enable granular movements in games instead.

The WASD keys work with Peratech's Hydra UI software, where you can bind certain actions (like walk or sprint) to different pressure levels on the four keys. This customisability extends to different settings for each game, which is remarkable (though support for this feature might differ from game to game). Hydra currently has presets for 11 different games.

Image source: Peratech

There are some potential drawbacks to this though; as we mentioned above, the shallow travel on notebook keyboards means that the range of movement you can get in games through this feature might be limited, as other analog-capable keyboards usually have 4mm of travel, compared to the 1.5mm travel on the keyboards of the Legion 7 and 7i. 

Nevertheless, this is quite a notable achievement, even if it isn't advertised much. Whether more notebook manufacturers start incorporating this technology remains to be seen, though. If this feature interests you, you can check out the Legion 7 and 7i on Lenovo's website here and here, respectively.

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