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7/28/2005
09:57 PM
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The First Open-Source Keyboard

I enjoyed Bill O'Brien's piece on new and interesting input devices over at Personal Tech Pipeline. But he missed what may be coolest thing to happen to a keyboard since, well, since there have been keyboards: Artemy Lebedev's Optimus. When I first laid eyes on this thing about a month ago, I knew I had to have one. Why? If you have to ask, then I can't explain.

I enjoyed Bill O'Brien's piece on new and interesting input devices over at Personal Tech Pipeline. But he missed what may be coolest thing to happen to a keyboard since, well, since there have been keyboards: Artemy Lebedev's Optimus.

When I first laid eyes on this thing about a month ago, I knew I had to have one. Why? If you have to ask, then I can't explain.There's a good summary of the Optimus over at Primotech:

"When a Russian design firm broke the news of its OLED keyboard on Thursday, July 14, geeks everywhere were tickled with delight. Rather than traditional keys that feature printed characters, each key on the Optimus keyboard contains a small OLED display that can be set to display whatever the user requires."

In the same article, the writer interviews Artemy Lebedev, the keyboard's creator and the founder of the Lebedev Studio -- Russia's leading design house:

"We've thought about the first 'open-source keyboard'. There will be an SDK and some user 'keyboard studio' application which will allow the keyboard to be customized for any mode or application in any way imaginable, from DVORAK to arranging letters in alphabetical order."

You don't have to have a crystal ball to predict the raging torrent of creativity the Optimus will unleash upon the previously non-existent field of input key design. We'll also see the birth of "key-porn" and keyboard malware, and I'm sure the marketers will be looking for ways to put their products under your thumb, so to speak -- how much more will it cost to advertise on your spacebar than on, say, the "d" key (always hidden under a touch-typist's fingers)?

I'd also bet the shirt on my back that Jonathan Ive and Steve Jobs have either talked to Lebedev about marrying his creation to the Mac, or they've at least booked their flights to Moscow.

There are pictures, pretty pictures. You, too, will want one.

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