Optimus layout for Q3ASince already several years the casemod-movement [that is the hardware-modification scene] has powerfully whiplashed back into the hardware-manufacturing industry. The feedback out of the rows of the ‘end-users’ stemming from their creativity in the appropriation of computer hardware gave birth to a whole new branch of hardware-/parts-, and peripherals-producers and retailers. Again the main thrust to this development is the computergames-market. The man-machine interfaces obviously are crucial to gaming, so little wonder that new designs, or even innovations pop up in said sector. Interestingly enough the industry’s strategy is not to invent completely new kinds of input-devices, but to modify the concept of the keyboard. Gone seem the days which held praise for fancy gadgets like data-gloves—keyboard and mouse are accepted means of navigating through 3D-space. At least culturally accepted by gamers and kin folk, e.g. 3D-modellers. I still hold upright my opinion voiced in an according earlier discussion with orange. Now let’s have a look at the new gadgets:

One example is this new keyboard from Zboard design specifically for the World of Warcraft online game. Zboard also has keyboards for other games including Age of Mythology, Madden NFL, EverQuest II, Delta Force and Doom III. ↑[…]

An all too transparent strategy: buy a game, in the case of MMORPGs subscribe to an online-account, and buy specific peripheral hardware. That may—may!—work with MMORPGs because of their potential for longtime addiction. But honestly, would you buy a custom-keyboard for Doom III? Some of you would make ones of your own, I know, but would you buy one? And does Fatal1ty need one while he continues winning? … More versatile seems this concept:

Ergodex has developed a new input system, called the Ergodex DX1 Input System, that could be very useful for gamers. The input system contains movable keys that contain macros which can be placed anywhere on the board—a great set-up for games with keyboard controls. ↑[…]

Sounds already better to me, but still I am not convinced. Do I really want, or even need to rearrange the keys topographically? No piano player has to. Gamers neither, I guess. And then: I can’t type on that keyboard, can I? Seen from my vantage point the most striking recent keyboard-modifications comes not from the industry, not from the casemodding-scene, but close to the latter, from the fringe, too. I am speaking of the Optimus Keyboard straight out of a Russian designer’s portfolio:

What appears to be a Russian design company has on their website a keyboard in which the keys are using OLED to display what function the keys represent. The product is Art. Lebedev Studio’s Optimus Keyboard. The uses of this could be amazing. They have pictures of layouts for Photoshop and Quake, as well as a QWERTY and Russian. Here’s hoping that this will make it to a production model and not just a design model.
(from ↑slashdot)

Now you may say, I do not need this either. So be it. But it’s still a keyboard sporting the used-to topography of the keys, it’s able to be adapted to a shitload of applications beyond games, even to those of your own invention, it has the potential to solve certain language-barrier problems, and finally: I dare say that the picture above (of the Q3A layout) already resonates with gaming-culture vibes and rings a lot of bells in gamers’ hearts. Right?

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