Optimus mini three OLED Keypad: Harbinger of Things to Come?

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?

Optimus mini three OLED Keypad: Harbinger of Things to Come?

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]