While touchscreens have become increasingly popular over years, many computers and devices still use a keyboard as their primary method of input. A keyboard is an externally connected peripheral consisting of an arrangement of letters, numbers, special characters and other symbols. Each of the keys acts as a switch by completing or breaking a circuit when pressed. Of all the different keyboard technologies available, though, dome switch is among the most common.

What Is a Dome-Switch Keyboard?

A dome-switch keyboard is a type of keyboard that features characteristics of both a flat-panel membrane keyboard and a traditional mechanical-switch keyboard. Like membrane keyboards, they feature a top layer of silicone rubber. Below this soft and elastic material are metal dome switches.

Pressing a key will cause the underlying conductive traces to make contact with other each. Like with other keyboard technologies, dome-switch keyboards consist of an independent switch at each key. They contain two contact traces that allow the switch to be controlled.

Benefits of Dome-Switch Keyboards

Dome-switch keyboards are on the rise, partly because of their longevity. While no keyboard lasts forever, those powered by dome-switch technology typically have a longer lifespan than their counterparts that use other technologies. It’s not uncommon, in fact, for a dome-switch keyboard to last for over 5 million switch cycles.

Another benefit of dome-switch keyboard is strong tactile feedback. Also known as haptics, tactile feedback is a physical sensation that’s produced in response to a command. Touchscreens typically produce tactile feedback using vibrations, whereas dome-switch keyboards produce tactile feedback naturally using webbing material. The webbing material allows their keys to spring back up after being pressed.

Dome-switch keyboards are also highly accurate, meaning they typically won’t register false keystrokes. Some keyboards have a tendency to register keystrokes that didn’t actually occur. With dome-switch keyboards, the conductive traces are separated with air to reduce the risk of erroneous commands such as this.

Alternative Keyboard Technologies

While dome switch is one of the most common types of keyboard technologies, several others are available as well. There are flat-panel membrane and full-travel membrane keyboards, for instance. The former lives up to its namesake by featuring a flat surface, whereas the latter is characterized by the use of a waterproof membrane.

Another common keyboard technology is scissor switch. Scissor-switch keyboards have a scissor-like mechanism under each of their keys. Finally, some keyboards are powered by capacitive technology. Capacitive keyboards measure capacitance to detect keystrokes.