You can, pretty much, customize any keyboard to perform new functions and macros to simplify some of your computer work. However, pressing keys isn't always the most ideal way to perform every function. In fact, I can think up a bunch of tasks that can prove easier when used with sliders, knobs, and flush buttons compared to a mouse-and-keyboard combo. Pallete is designed to faciliate that.
A modular control system, it consists of individual physical controls mounted on aluminum tiles (they're also putting a together a limited-edition wooden version). Billed as a "freeform controller," the idea is to connect the controls together in whatever layout works best for your needs -- you can set the controls in a row to sit conveniently above your keyboard, in a U-shape so you can hold it in hand like a game controller, or any other configuration.
To use, simply connect the Pallete power module to the PC's USB port, then attach all the control modules you want to use. The accompanying desktop software will automatically detect any new module you add, then allow you to assign software functions directly to it similar to the way you can assign macros and commands to keyboard presses. At launch, only three control modules will be included, namely a slider, a knob, and a button, although this can be expanded to include a whole host of different modules down the line.
Even with just three controls in the set, I can imagine plenty of specific uses for this. Photographers can use the knobs and sliders for more precise retouching, musicians can use it for custom MIDI controllers, gamers can create their own tactile control set, and so on.
Pallete is currently raising funds for a production run on Kickstarter. Pledges to reserve a set starts at $99.