Sunday, January 27, 2008

Foxconn Set to Produce Keyboards with Screens Inside Keys

Foxconn Electronics, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics devices, and United Keys, an engineering firm, announced a strategic partnership to produce a keyboard with keys that feature embedded screens. The keyboard will rival not only leading-edge devices from Logitech or Microsoft, but will pose competition to Art Lebedev design studio’s Optimus lineup.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information available about the keyboard developed by United Keys and produced by Foxconn Electronics, but what is known is that it will be positioned primarily for gamers and creative professionals and will have nine reprogrammable keys with embedded screens. The companies also have not revealed pricing or availability timeframe of the product, but indicated that the keyboard is due “soon”.

“Soon we’ll make available a display key PC keyboard, with a set of nine keys enabled. This is a real production unit built by Foxconn. But it will also be our first (‘pilot’) run. As such, it will probably need software improvement (which is where you come in!). If you are technically strong, and a true ‘first adopter’ by nature, we’d like you to bang around on it and then provide feedback. It’ll be priced accordingly, reflecting a considerable discount vs. future products,” a statement by United Keys reads.

Technical specifications of the screens as well as the keyboard itself were not available at press time.

United Keys, is an IP licensing, industrial design and engineering firm based in San Jose, California. The “original technology” of the company was developed in Sweden, and is patented or has patents pending “in major markets worldwide”. According to the company, its business model focuses on enabling customers to easily integrate display key technology into their own solutions by providing “the unified support needed for them”, including coordinating the supply of specialized components and having experienced partnerships in place that can scale quickly as customer needs expand.

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