…is a month without sunshine around AOMS HQ, so fortunately we can now bring you some more details on the Optimus Tacticus (formerly Tactus), which is basically an iPhone if an iPhone were a keyboard instead of a phone, and if its touch screen were infinitely configurable so it could meet the needs of people with disabilities other than blindness. (Anyone who can comprehend that sentence gets a coupon for a free serving of Swedish meatballs from the forthcoming Optimus store.)
Just when we thought we’d have to let a month pass without mentioning news from the Optimus Keyboard folks, Art Lebedev announces the Optimus Popularis. According to the man, “Shorter than Maximus, it will not use OLED screens, but will be based on a totally different principle.” Principle TBD, although the prototype appears to have been sculpted from butter. In any case, it’ll cost “under $1,000,” so we might be able to buy one and spring for lunch, too. Watch this space–
We’ve been posting about this keyboard-with-OLED-keys for quite a while now, and it’s finally gotten a review, with good pointers (like, wait for version 1.0 and a price drop). It seems that this thing is not really made for everyday typing, and you have to program it all yourself, but the display-keys really do work, and can even show movies (“Now playing on Backspace, Groundhog Day“)!
So consider how cool a nonvocal communication aid you could make, with animated inputs. And cognitive support galore.
It would have been silly to think that Art Lebedev would release his Optimus keyboard and then sit back on his laurels. No sooner does the Optimus start shipping than Art posts a demo Optimus Tactus keyboard, which has an infinitely configurable touchscreen. Early sketches suggest it can even be used to play video.
While we continue to try tempering our Optimusm, here’s the Cyborg, which is another, eminently more affordable keyboard with some keys that can be configured individually for color and brightness. Promising for some people who need visual or cognitive aid–and it’s programmable, too.
We’ve been covering the idea of dynamic keyboards with tiny displays on each key for quite a while now. Until today, they were all connected with Art Lebedev’s Optimus. But now Apple joins in, with some new and newly-revealed patents. The basic idea has a lot of potential for all users — customized or simplified keyboards that shift according to the context of any application.
While we continue to sit forlorn by the CPU waiting for the Optimus Maximus keyboard to call, we’ve found a partial substitute. The Ideazon Merc Stealth Illuminate Gaming Keyboard lights up in red, blue, and purple, and allows the user four brightness options. The keys are rubberized, which we’ll guess gives it the nice “mushy” feel that lots of our clients like. It has a somewhat non-standard layout, but it also comes with software that lets you reconfigure the key assignments using a large number of pre-defined layouts; you can even create your own macros. Available now, for 1/20th the price of the Optimus.