Russia! magazine takes a look back at the long and tumultuous gestation of the Optimus Maximus keyboard, the $1,500 keyboard from Art Lebedev with tiny OLED screens embedded under each hard-to-push keycaps.
And the notion that it’s really not all that useful? Nonsense. Designers, video editors and audio engineers, he insisted, were benefiting from the Optimus every day. But the keyboard also had a higher purpose from the very beginning – one that American critics tend to forget. “I wanted to create a typing interface that is compatible with Cyrillic,” Lebedev said. Keyboards, computers and the Internet were created for languages that employ the Latin alphabet, and English in particular. Lebedev wasn’t annoyed about this. Indeed, he’d benefited hugely from his country’s belated embrace of the computer. But it had always been clear to him that the typical keyboard layout was treating one half of the world like guests. As if their letters were an awkward substitute for the 26 ***real*** letters. No wonder he overcompensated by enabling video playback for every key. Otherwise, he risked excluding the ever-growing language of video memes. (And, for that matter, the illiterate.)
Lebedev said that, despite all the obstacles, he wasn’t planning on selling the idea to anyone. For him, the budding Optimus line is about the creative process, not the money. And he would never be able to stomach someone else taking control and messing things up. “I don’t think anyone will come close to what we’ve done with Optimus any time soon,” he said. “It’s the ultimate keyboard.”
I can’t help but agree. They clearly stumbled into the future of keyboards, but adoption just won’t happen until the tiny screens are so cheap as to be nearly disposable. (Color ePaper, probably.)
Optimus Pride [ReadRussia.com]