first there was the keyboard, not much in the way of improvements have been made really if you think about it. I can only think of a handful suchas ergonomic keyboards and the occasional dvorak or maltron comes along...
then earlier this year ergodex finally released the DX1 which allows users to create their own keyboards to suit their hands and their needs, with a custom built macro button that allows you to record functions to keys on the fly via hardware. (very cool) but for as cool as the dx1 is there's one thing it's missing that our latest keyboard has...
tiny oled screens on the keys!
(english, russian, quake, photoshop setups shown above) the optimus keyboard features a completely customizeable look and functionality that can even be changed depending on what program or language you happen to be using at the moment. AND incase you're too lazy to read the site "Frequently Answered Answers about the Optimus keyboard It's in initial stage of production We hope it will be released in 2006 It will cost less than a good mobile phone It will be real It will be OS-independent (at least it can work in some default state with any OS) It will support any language or layout Moscow is the capital of Russia Each key could be programmed to produce any sequence It will be an open-source keyboard, SDK will be available Some day it will be split ('ergonomic') It will most likely use OLED technology (e-paper is sooo slow) Our studio is located two blocks from the Kremlin It will feature a key-saver Keys will use animation when needed It has numeric keypad because we love it There's no snow in Moscow during Summer It will be available worldwide (why not?) OEM will be possible (why not?) Contact us for hi-res images, or interview inquires" now who amongst you is not drooling thinking of the possibilities? x-posted to geeks and geekgadgets
the practicality comes in two ways: a) when you're first learning a program it makes learning keyboard shortcuts a breeze which would speed up productivity and lower the learning curve (the learning curve especially for people new to fps and rts games) b) they're illuminated so you can still see what keys you're using in a dark room no matter how you may have it configured.
i'm sure there's more but at this point in time i can't seem to come up with any.
I guess we're just so used to memorizing all the keyboard shortcuts and whatnot for all these programs that something like this seems superfluous (although awesomely superfluous in the way that every geek gadget is). But you're right, I could see something like this being the start of a new wave of keyboards, taking the learning curve down a notch for all the people new to the field.
Also, adding to the awesomeness of this keyboard, it reminds me of the old Atari Jaguar controllers with the cards that slipped over the number buttons to tell you what they did for whatever game you were playing. I always loved those things.