Researchers in France have come up with a small but uber-adaptable prototype that could soon change how we type — and in any language we choose.
LYON — Navigate the web in English, write an email in Mandarin, format a spreadsheet in German. All of this is possible thanks to the keyboard built by the Lyon-based business LDLC. The "Nemeïo," as it's called, weighs 600 grams and includes 81 completely customizable keys.
LDLC, the French leader in e-commerce technology, thinks it has found "the Holy Grail" of the tech community: a universally dynamic keyboard. Designed by the firm's R&D team, Nemeïo is "a mechanical keyboard that contains an e-paper display screen, similar to those in reading lamps, under 81 transparent keys," explains Olivier de la Clergerie, LDLC's director general. The advantage of Nemeïo is that it is 100% customizable with its use of electronic ink.
Long gone are the silicone keyboard covers or having to exchange keyboards to connect devices specific to certain professional hardware. The prototype measures 30 cm by 18 cm. And while it may be small, it's also mighty. For example, in translation, it can configure Azerty to Qwerty to Bépo, or even alphabets such as Japanese or Mandarin in a matter of one second.
It's a niche product, but a product with a global impact.
It also has the ability to configure games, graphics or videos to your own personal preference with keyboard shortcuts. Either existing shortcuts can be used, or an entirely new shortcut can be created based on your frequently used finger patterns.
Thus, rather than use a difficult-to-remember combination of Ctrl + Alt + some other keys, users can choose a single unique key from among the existing 81. The possibility of embedding a custom symbol to a particular key, either imported or from the application library, replaces the often ambiguous F1 or F2 characters on traditional keyboards.
Olivier de la Clergerie promises "growth with time — instead of 40 shortcuts, there will be 40 direct keys with specific pictograms." With the protection of two patents, LDLC hopes to market Nemeïo before the end of the year at a price between 300 and 500 euros. "It's a niche product, but in essence, a product with a global impact," he says.