Art Lebedev Studio garnered a lot of attention when their Optimus Maximus keyboard concept surfaced in 2005. The peripheral touted a full set of OLED keys that were 100% user-customizable and looked downright amazing. After three years in development and many, many delays to the point of actually being labeled as "vaporware," the Optimus Maximus keyboard finally began shipping in 2008 with an obscene price tag of around $1,500.
Needless to say, not too many were sold. Now the company is back with another concept keyboard – one that is smaller, sleeker and promises to be less expensive compared to the original Optimus Maximus. The Optimus Popularis uses a "chicklet" style layout and thinner profile than its predecessor. It also drops the numeric keypad on the right, but when every key features a customizable LED display on top I guess that's less of a problem – and it saves a lot of money.
The new Popularis keyboard will supposedly feature OLED screens that encompass the individual keys' entire physical real estate with a 64x64 pixels resolution, up from 48x48 on the Maximus. There's also a long widget display mounted between the function and number keys. Art Lebedev says it expect to ship the peripheral "at the end of this year/beginning of next year" for less than $1000. The company doesn't have a fantastic track record when it comes to meeting deadlines, so we wouldn't hold our breath on that release timeframe. As for the price, hopefully less than $1,000 doesn't mean $999.