Proto-Type

Artemy Lebedev was tired of relying on little stickers placed on the bottom right-hand corners of each key as he alternated between typing in the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. In response to the frustrations expressed by multilingual typists like himself, Lebedev—one of six art directors at the multidisciplinary Moscow-based design collective Art Lebedev—engineered Optimus, a versatile universal keyboard programmed to run on any operating system. In place of preprinted letters and symbols, each key contains a small OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) screen displaying an icon selected by the user to correspond with a letter in a specific alphabet, a symbol, or a script. Made of aluminum with polycarbonate-covered plastic keys, the keyboard’s surface can also display a static or moving image (called a “keysaver”) when not in use, a feature usually reserved for monitors. “We really want people to reverse engineer this thing and think up new possibilities for how to use it,” says Lebedev, who hopes the keyboard will be available for sale worldwide by the end of next year.

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