Optimus LED keyboard to debut on February 1?

Westlake Village (CA) - The much anticipated Optimus LED keyboard may be available next month, if we are to believe the Art Lebedev Studio's website. Keys will have an LED array that can be customized to display icons like the Internet Explorer "e" or Quicktime's signature icon.

Speculation about a possible availability of the device has been building over the past several months, but a recent, somewhat cryptic "Good Things Come in Small Packages - February 1, 2005" announcement has popped up on the company website.

The website had received immense press coverage last year with dazzling pictures of keys with clear, crisp and colorful icons. It's easy to see the utility of such a keyboard for Photoshop artists and video editors who often have to customize key combinations to be able to work more effectively. Supposedly, the keyboard will be open-sourced and users can customize their own key images and bind their own keystroke combinations.

Is such a keyboard technically possible to produce? Jagdish Rebello, Senior Industry Analyst for iSuppli and LED expert, told TG Daily that it's "definitely possible". He adds that the most important part is not the actual LED, but the electronics behind it. "From an LED perspective it's not a big deal, but the key factor is the drive circuitry, which pushes color to each pixel," says Rebello.

The Art Lebedev Studio's website states that the Optimus keyboard should cost less than a "good mobile phone". With phones costing $600 or more these days, this doesn't give us much of an indication. but Rebello says the cost for materials for just the LEDs won't be high. "Assuming they buy it in large volume, the BoM (bill of materials) shouldn't be more than one dollar per key," says Robello. From this perspective, the keyboard could cost less than $300.