A lot of web sites are buzzing about an innovative keyboard designed by a firm in Russia that uses an interesting approach to providing programmable keys. The Optimus keyboard uses little OLED displays on every key to allow the keyboard to be configured in a number of enterprising ways. Almost any language can be used on the Optimus by simply changing the keytop displays to correspond with that language. Game players will be able to configure the keys to their favorite games complete with commands and icons displayed to make gaming easier. The Optimus is certainly an interesting entry in the keyboard field and it is easy to see why it is generating such attention.
I checked out the designer’s web site and the potential is there to make a big splash in the market, that is if it ever comes to that point. Right now the Optimus is just a concept and the keyboard is not in production yet. Art Lebedev Studio hopes to bring it to market in 2006 and expects it to cost "less than a good mobile phone" which many interpret to be in the $200 – $300 range. If that holds true this keyboard is going to have a tough task to get consumers to pony up that kind of cash, no matter how cool the keyboard is. There have been many "gamer" keyboards over the years that offer programmable keys, albeit not as cool as these OLED ones, and they have to be in the $100 range to get any sales. Time will tell and I for one hope these folks can do it and bring what is definitely a cool keyboard to the masses. When is the last time you called a keyboard cool?