Will the Tactonic Pad WRAEK havoc in the gaming world?

Startup WREAK's simple idea may well change the world of gaming controls if it catches on.

by Justin Choo

Is the era of WASD on its last legs? WRAEK Tactonic Pad is a new concept that is seeking to displace the age-old keyboard controls of PC gaming. And it genuinely looks promising.

The concept is the brainchild of local startup WRAEK, formed by three members of the National University of Singapore (NUS) Entrepreneurship Society (NES; how’s that for a meta acronym), who bonded together through their love of gaming. And now, Ryan Siah, Chik Cheng Jie and Chen Pinzhang are set to launch unique gaming peripheral on Kickstarter this January 27th.

At its heart, the Tactonic Pad is a simple concept that hinges on a force-sensitive (no, not that one) controller that can detect changes in pressure. It can also sense the direction of the force and translate these readings into conventional input commands that your PC can recognise. You can even play with the keyboard and pad tilted and align the inputs accordingly, which is a low-key killer feature.

While Wraek was unable to show us the user interface of the software at the time, they assured us that the pad will be very customisable and we would have the ability to tweak the sensitivity and response of the controller and add keybinds. The plug-and-play pad also comes with a button that lets you cycle through five preset modes.

Wraek is holding its cards close to its chest and isn’t keen to reveal too much about how the technology works. What we do know so far is that the pad is built on a nylon core and a silicone resistance block beneath its mirror polish surface, which forms the support for its sensors to work. The surface is swappable, with rubber and silicone as options. The smooth surface was chosen as the default as they found that it has more grip when things get sweaty.

From the demo at least, the Tactonic Pad seems to work like a charm and you can apply pressure anywhere on the surface. The only downside at the moment is that it’s yet another cable on your desk to deal with. Given that it’s early days, it’s hard to tell if the Tactonic Pad will be considered legal for competition. Wraek explained that on their end, they’ve designed the pad to fall in line with the spirit of competition and is one of the reasons why they are not enabling macros.

Since it’s ultimately a versatile input device, I’d definitely be keeping a lookout for its potential in productivity apps like Photoshop.

Currently, the Tactonic Pad will only be available as a TKL-sized wrist rest, at least until they are able to miniaturise the circuitry further. The pad measures 22mm at its highest, so it should work reasonably well with most TKL keyboards.

Wraek will also be releasing a Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard as a companion accessory. It’s priced at US$149, which pretty much places it in Ducky One 3 Daybreak territory.

Tech-wise, there’s nothing groundbreaking about the keyboard, but it is designed to adhere to the controller magnetically so that it doubles up like a wrist rest for a clean look.

The hardware on the keyboard seems decent enough, checking off all the boxes for what’s to be expected of a customisable gaming board – factory-lubed Cherry-style stabilisers along with 5-pin hot-swappable Cherry MX-style switches. Wraek will offer standard Gateron Red, Brown and Blue switches initially with custom switches on demand. Thick double-shot PBT keycaps (looks at least 1.5mm thick) offer tremendous resistance against shine as well as shine-through legends for the RGB lighting. The inclusion of plate foam and case foam will help reduce high-pitched pings and make typing less of a trigger for those around you (if you know, you know).

The keyboard has a polling rate of 1,000 Hz and latency of 15ms while the pad has a polling rate of 200 Hz with 10 ms of latency. Though these are relatively modest numbers in the context of gaming keyboards, chances are it won’t matter much.

Price and Availability

The WRAEK Tactonic Pad will be priced at US$119 while the Tactonic Keyboard will be priced at US$149. The Tactonic Pad and Keyboard will also be available as a pair called the Tactonic Pro and priced at US$259. You can get the set as cheap as $169 on Kickstarter when the listing goes live on Thursday 27 Jan 2022. They expect delivery of items in May or June 2022.