Geeks unveil next-generation keyboards

Russia's largest design company has lifted the lid on an innovative computer keyboard where each key is a stand alone video screen.

Users of the Moscow-based Art Lebedev Studio's Optimus keyboard can assign different languages or symbols to show exactly what it is controlling at any moment.

Company director, Artemy Lebedev, says that every key has the ability of a stand-alone monitor and can therefore display any image the user chooses.

He describes the possibilities of the all-purpose keyboard as "absolutely limitless," because like a video screen, there are no constraints on what images are shown.

"Optimus is good for any layouts - Cyrillic, Ancient Greek, Georgian, Arabic - and so on to infinity: notes, numerals, special symbols, HTML codes, mathematical functions," claims the company website.

Moreover, the function of the keyboard is designed so users can switch from HTML codes, to Quake - to the Latin alphabet, within a few strokes, taking just a matter of seconds.

Any software is able to run on the keyboard, after a bit of tweaking, ensuring users have free range to play games, compose music, go Photo shopping or develop programs.

Intending to be launched with an aluminium case and polycarbonate keys, Optimus is reportedly due for release in 2006 at around £200.

The news comes as German inventor, Daniel Guermeur, has unveiled his Uber Keyboard – a keyboard where the keys are blank.

The creator says his invention is a sure way to improve speed and accuracy of typing.

"Das Keyboard places me at the pinnacle of the geekness," Guermeur told Beta News. "The nice perk is that it improved my typing speed and accuracy."

But users are warned that some keys could be perceived as being faulty, as each has a different weight, meaning they won't work unless they are pressed with different force, some at 35g and others at 80g.

The self-styled Uber Geek says that he's already made sure his device is fit for the most hardcore computer users, given it withstands over 20million keystrokes.

'Das Keyboard' works with Linux, Windows and Apple Mac OSX systems and is available online for around £45.

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