Art Lebedev, a well-known Russian design studio, this week revealed the first renderings of its Optimus Mini Six keypad and reaffirmed its plans to release the gadget aimed at desktop computers by the end of this calendar year.
"Our newest addition to the Optimus family is in the early production stage now. We plan to release it later this year with the full-sized Optimus Popularis coming in 2012," said Artemy Lebedev, the head of the studio, in a blog post.
The Optimus Mini Six keypad will be based on a small LCD touch-screen integrated into a special enclosure with six transparent buttons. As a result, the device features six programmable keys that can be assigned to various functions in different programs. The product will, as its predecessor Optimus Mini Three, use USB connector, but will feature a brand new design that seems to be a little bit more strict.
The concept of the device has been known for several years now. A large LCD touch-screen ensures that keyboards and keypads on its base will be much more affordable than those, which feature individual screens inside each key.
However, when it comes to a supplementary keypad, it may make more sense to have no keys at all, but feature a high-quality touch-screen only with customizable graphics icons on it. Tactile feedback is important, but for those, who know exactly which key performs certain function, graphics screens inside keys are not needed and they would rather use programmable keys on their keyboards.