Range takes a look at the coolest alternative keyboards.
The No-Key is in between Microsoft's tabletop Surface and the iPhone. This concept, designed by Kong Fanwen, is made of glass and is backlit. It doesn’t possess any real keys per se, but rather has a motion-capture system set upon the fingers to capture which keys are "pressed". Optimus Maximus Keyboard
By far, one of the most expensive input devices, the Optimus Maximus keyboard retails at a whopping $1590. Incredibly, each of its keys features an OLED display, that shows the function currently assigned to it.
These change dynamically when function keys or shift keys are pressed. The keyboard holds 113 keys, meaning there are 113 mini OLED screens that can display images, animated gif files or even Quicktime movies. The Optimus’ layout allows it to shift languages from Cyrillic, Greek, Chinese, Japanese, as well as special symbols, numerals, and math functions. The Russian design studio Art Lebedev, who developed the Optimus is currently working on a smaller Optimus, which will retail for below $1000. Optimus Tactus Keyboard
Following upon the success of the Optimus Maximus, Art Lebedev designed the Tactus concept. The Tactus does not have any physical keys, so there are no restrictions upon the size and shape of the keys that can be displayed.
Rather than 113 tiny OLEDs, there is only one giant tactile display. It reminds us a bit of a graphics tablet used in graphic design, such as the Wacom Cintiq. Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard
When you grow tired of typing on your PDA or smartphone's lilliputian keyboard connect this $160 virtual keyboard via Bluetooth to your mobile device. A laser in the matchbook-sized device projects a full QWERTY keyboard onto any flat surface. USB Flexible Keyboard
Flexible silicone keyboards are inexpensive, washable and durable -- the perfect solution when on the go or for those of us who like to eat Philly Cheese Steaks over our keyboards. They roll-up easily into a laptop bag and are a cinch to set-up,plus they come in all sorts of colors and models, from wireless to illuminated. --Range