Some very clever people in Russia have designed what is, in my opinion, the most amazing keyboard every. Art. Lebedev Studio’s Optimus Keyboard is only a rendered mock up of a full sized keyboard featuring an OLED but it shows the real potential of being able to customise the label on every key. Imagine playing Unreal Tournament or Half-Life 2 and having an image of each weapon on the key that relates to it. Instead of pressing E for the rocket launcher, you’d reach for the button with the rockets on it. But it’s not just for gamers. Serious programs such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Photoshop have a bewildering number of keyboard shortcuts. Wouldn’t it be great to see the tool on the key. It’s have to change relative the program’s state as each key’s use changes, but with USB 2 and a fast enough CPU it’s not going to slow down noticeably when sending new images to the mini-displays on the keyboard.
But of course there is a draw back. It doesn’t exist yet, like I said before this is only a simulation. And the cost of 112 individual OLED displays is going to put this out of reach of all but the most dedicated geeks for quite a while. I’m going to start saving.
Update: They do intend to make it, according to the FAQ they aim to go into production in 2006 and best of all, they’re Mac people so there’s a strong chance of it being fully useable with OS X