A few short weeks ago, I said what a shame it was that Minebea's gorgeous COOL LEAF touch keyboard didn't allow for different country-specific keyboard layouts. A shortlisted entry in designboom's 2011 Fujitsu Design Award competition has taken such personal configuration a stage further with a touchscreen keyboard on a full-size laptop which would allow users to arrange and configure their own layout choices.
Designer Laura Lahti's Keyless LifeBook concept appears to offer both the touchscreen benefits of something like Toshiba's Libretto W100 and the fluid keying of LiquidKeyboard, but in a full-size laptop form factor. It's not clear from the design whether a production model would feature vibration key feedback but this would certainly be a useful addition.
Apart from satisfying those of us who regularly write in more than one language and would otherwise need to seek out different keyboards, the concept would also be useful for anyone wanting to split the keyboard into different sections for ergonomic comfort or gaming efficiency, for instance. Users might wish to place a numeric keypad to the left instead of the more familiar right-hand placement. Being a touchscreen affair also means that any touchpad area could also be positioned for personal comfort, or simply moved out of the way when not needed.
The nature of this appealing design also lends itself to custom color layouts and after-hours background illumination - useful for writers burning the midnight oil or gamers wanting to lower the lights for a more immersive experience.
The outright winner of the Fujitsu Design Award 2011: A Life with Future Computing competition will walk away with EUR30,000 (US$42,819), and EUR10,000 (US$14,274) will be awarded to one runner-up from the LifeBook and Life-Design categories - Lahti's keyboard shares its name with the category in which it's entered. The judges will also give seven entries a special award of EUR1,000 (US$1,427). Results will be announced shortly.