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Eye candy for your keyboard

Tired of your average everyday 104-key keyboard? A couple of Russian companies are taking a fresh look at the 'ole "" problem with some new programmable keyboards.

iKeyInfinity, out of Moscow, is expected to launch its new multi-language design for Windows and Macintosh platforms starting next year. Connected via a USB 2.0 cable, each key has a 17x17 pixels liquid crystal display (LCD) to show the character according to the language used in the operating system.

A close up of a key on the iKeyTypePro keyboard
Credit: iKeyInfinity

When the layout map is changed, the image on each key changes accordingly. The company said the image could be any alphabetic letter, mathematic symbol, punctuation or musical notation--or any graphic symbol or glyph.

In addition to the standard English, the keyboard can switch over to Cyrillic, Ancient Greek, Georgian or Arabic by just changing the language configuration on the PC.

Two blocks from the Kremlin, designers at Art. Lebedev Studio have come up with the Optimus keyboard, which is in the initial stage of production. The group hopes to have the final product ready by next year.

A close up of the Optimus keyboard
Credit: Art. Lebedev Studio

Similar to the iKeyInfinity device, Optimus can handle non-English characters as well as special symbols, HTML codes and the like. Two versions on the Web site show keyboards specially designed for someone using Adobe Photoshop and another for someone who might be playing the video game "Quake."

The designers said the keyboard will be operating system independent and use organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology to give it a soft glow.

Developers can also revel in the news that the software development kit will be made available as an open-source code package, the group said.

Ergonomic fans will also be able to take advantage of the keyboard at some point as the designers are also working on a version that hinges in the middle.