No, Apple hasn’t bought out Art Lebedev, the Russian studio infamous for its near-vaporware Optimus keyboard with individual displays on every key. However, the folks in Cupertino, California seem to be contemplating a keyboard based on a very similar concept.
As PC Joint reports, Apple has filed a patent for a “dynamically controlled keyboard” that features “several light emitting diodes disposed on a face of the key.” The diodes are of the organic kind (OLEDs), and there are enough of them to display a little picture on each key. In the diagrams that accompany the patent filing, Apple shows a keyboard configurable for both QWERTY and Russian keyboard layouts with keys that each have 56 OLED pixels (7 x 8).
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Steve Jobs to unveil OLED keyboards at the Macworld Conference later this month, though. The patent is already a year and a half old, and Art Lebedev’s own Optimus Maximus keyboard with all-OLED keys will cost a grand and a half when it comes out next month. That said, the advantages of a completely dynamic keyboard design are obvious, and Apple could use the manufacturing resources at its disposal to one day bring such a product to market.