April 15, 2008 Russian Artemy Lebedev is best known for his Optimus Keyboard design which surfaced three years ago and has been the subject of much controversy. Artemy is obviously quite focussed on finding a better way to interface humans with computers because since Optimus, he’s come out with two other keyboard designs (three key and Upravlator) and now his latest concept is a touch-screen (think iPhone) keyboard.
Gizmodo gave the Optimus Tactus idea an absolute caning initially, but we can see all sorts of advantages for being able to reconfigure a keyboard, the key sizes, the functionality … and it is after all, a concept. If you are the kind of worker who works with words, you will logically stay with a traditional keyboard because typing on a hard surface hurts. But this interface is configurable and could be operated with swipes and pinches and we think it quite conceivable that it will enable a better way.
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One logical use would be for the partially sight-impaired who require larger keys, or some other interface that vastly simplifies repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Similarly, there are many specialist applications just crying out for a fully customisable new keyboard so they can prototype a better way for them. There are millions of us slaving over a hot keyboard who require a better tool than the current keyboard which was designed 100 years before the cuter was invented. We see the Optimus Tactus as more than viable.
Concepts should not be viewed just in terms of what they would cost to build now – given the success of Apple’s iPod and iPhone interface and its ready adoption by millions, we expect there will be a lot of new thought applied to touchscreens and the CHI in the next few years.
Finally, most high-level computer-workers could run a case for a keyboard that returned an effective productivity boost – you don’t need a particularly high hourly rate to be able to calculate a viable ROI for a few percent productivity gain from a US$10,000 keyboard. Highly refined tools of the trade, no matter how obscure and specialised - indeed, the more obscure and specialised a digitl trade, the greater the chance they'll get great value from an invention such as this.
If you earn say $100 an hour and work 40 hours a week, a five percent productivity gain would enable you to pay off a $10,000 monitor in a year.
There’s some interesting discussion in the comments beneath the original Gizmodo article.
Anyway, we think it's the CHI prototyping tool for the masses - a genuinely inspired next step from the Optimus KeyboardView gallery - 4 images