Italian, U.S. firms co-developing keyboard-less laptop

— 6:00 AM on July 11, 2008

The iPhone traded the traditional phone keypad for a touch-screen display, but could you do the same on a notebook? The One Laptop Per Child foundation thinks so, because it's showcased a concept laptop with a touch-sensitive screen in place of the keyboard. And according to Laptop Magazine, an Italian industrial agency has teamed up with a U.S. firm to produce a full-sized notebook based on the same concept.

Known as V12 Design, the Italian agency actually developed a dual-LCD prototype out of stainless steel and carbon fiber four years ago. No one commercialized the concept, but V12 now says it's teamed up with a U.S. manufacturer to produce a second-generation dual-LCD system. V12 refuses to name its partner, but it disclosed that the second-gen system will be ready as soon as 16 months from now and that it will hit the U.S. market.

The laptop will support multi-touch input just like the iPhone, and it will render a software keyboard on one of the displays to emulate a traditional laptop. The software keyboard may use haptic feedback—essentially small vibrations—to give users the illusion that they're touching physical keys. If all goes well, Laptop Magazine says this laptop "may be a reality by 2010." Check out the site's image gallery for shots of the first-gen prototype.

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