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If you have ever wished to see your keyboard in low-lit rooms, had trouble recalling shortcuts and macros in Photoshop™ or word processors, or yearned for an easier gaming experience, the Organic LED (OLED) keyboard is for you. This state of the art device features a miniature OLED screen on each and every key. Using accompanying software, each key’s function is programmable along with its changeable display.
Art Lebedev Studios makes the Optimus OLED Keyboard, the first of its kind. Unit prices on initial shipments were advertised as high as $1,500 US Dollars (USD) each. As of Spring 2008, the price has dropped to about $470 USD, and is expected to drop further as rising sales lower production costs. The Optimus connects to the computer via a Universal Serial Bus (USB) cable. Apple Computer also has an OLED keyboard in the works.
OLED screens are superior to LCD or CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) displays, and consume about 20% less power than LCDs. The technology allows for paper-thin flexible displays imbedded under each key. To increase the life of the tiny OLED screens, only the keys rise and fall when pressed, while the screens remain stationary.
The OLED keyboard can switch from English to Arabic, Chinese or Russian characters (to name a few), making it a multilingual device. A quick tweak of the software and the OLED keyboard will alter some or all of it’s key’s characters, transforming itself into a customized, personalized, high-tech control console.
Graphic editors and film editors using high-level professional software know the inconveniences of a standard keyboard, perhaps better than most. Cropping, filters, overlays and even simple tasks like adding clips to a project involve memorizing dozens of discreet keyboard shortcuts. Working with multiple programs is even more confusing. The problem is that standard keyboards don’t reflect the vast majority of functions and actions that software requires.
The OLED keyboard is the long-awaited answer. Its controlling software is open source, allowing software manufacturers the opportunity to write specialized programming options and screen icons for each compatible software package. When it’s time to use a film editor like Final Cut™, for example, one would simply open the OLED software, load the Final Cut OLED profile, and viola! A specialized Final Cut keyboard with its own key icons and shortcuts displayed on each key.
Word processors, spreadsheet programs and HTML editors can all have OLED keyboard software, allowing the user to place vital characters and functions at his or her fingertips. No more memorizing which key does what – the OLED keyboard screen will remind you where you placed the needed key. If its placement turns out to be awkward, open the OLED software interface and switch the function with its icon to a more comfortable key.
The OLED keyboard is a gamer’s dream. Imagine, for example, a black space bar with a shining weapon icon that changes color as ammo runs low. Radar, radio and comm. line keys grouped within easy reach, not interfering with tactical controls or movement keys. Everything mapped out in icons, easy to read at a glance, even in the low iridescent glow of a computer or HDTV screen.
Due to the extreme flexibility, adaptability and efficiency of the OLED keyboard, along with its open source interface that invites customized software integration, it seems destined to replace standard keyboards in relatively short order. If the price is offsetting, just hold on a bit. A product this desirable will likely become affordable before you know it.