Describing the Optimus Maximus 17 Years Early

Many people looked in awe when the first saw Art. Lebedev Studio’s Optimus Maximus keyboard – a keyboard with small OLED screens attached to each button. This allows the currently active program on your computer to switch your keys with whatever keyboard layout or shortcut layout you are currently using, and suit the visual appearance of the keyboard to what each button actually does. I’m not going to discuss the apparent problems with this and the Other Attempts at LCD Based Keyboards, but I’m going to quote a few sentences from “The Design (Psychology) of Everyday Things” which I happened to come across the other day:

Someday key labeling will be done by electronic displays on each key, so changing the labels will also become trivial. So computer technology may liberate users from forced standardization.

I guess Donald A. Norman were going “Yeah, I know.” when Art. Lebedev Studio released their first concept shots.