Russian design firm Art.Lebedev set the tech world all a-twitter when it announced its Optimus keyboard last July (non-working prototype pictured at right), an ambitious design that didn't exist yet, but promised to embed a small OLED display in each key on its otherwise normal-sized keyboard. The idea was, all the keys would be soft keys, and could change according to the context of the application in use. Was it vaporware?
Fast-forward six months, and the product's designer, Artemy Lebedev, is trying answer that question with a smaller control panel, the Optimus mini three (pictured at left), that has, you guessed it, just three keys on it and acts as an additional keyboard, sitting next to a regular keyboard and performing customized functions. The product will sell for $100 and will be available in May, according to Lebedev. At .8 x .8 inches, each key is larger than those on the prototype full keyboard, and each contains its own color OLED-display with 96x96-pixel resolution, 262,000 colors and a viewing angle of 160 degrees, according to Lebedev. The tiny displays are capable of five-frame-per-second animations, so not only could users view context-sensitive indicators, but a clock, stock market updates, weather forecasts, or any other information inside any or all the keys. According to designer Lebedev, the only difference between this mini three and the full-sized Optimus keyboard is the size and the quantity of OLEDs. He says Optimus will begin taking pre-orders this week for the mini three. Lebedev also insists that a working prototype of the full-sized keyboard will be forthcoming sometime this year.
Interview with Lebedev and Pics [Primo Technology]