Artemy Lebedev might have some trouble selling his attention-grabbing Optimus keyboard here in the States — turns out some dude by the name of Elkin Acevedo beat him to the punch and received a patent for a "Display keyboard" way back in 1998. The patent abstract describes the Optimus almost exactly, too:
A display keyboard including a conventional keyboard having an upper edge, lower edge, and pair of side edges. A plurality of display keys are situated on the keyboard. Each display key has a liquid crystal display, light emitting diode display, or any future state of the art display invention situated thereon for depicting alphanumeric characters and indicia. Finally, for controlling the operation of the present invention, a conventional computer is connected to the keyboard and adapted to depict via the display keys characters and indicia relevant to the function of the key during a current software application. To prevent confusion and eliminate clutter, the display keys that are not relevant to the software are rendered blank. In essence, all of the keys of the display keyboard have display capabilities, but it is at the discretion of the manufacture which keys should be able to display.
Supposedly Elkin is trying to commercialize the Display keyboard, we're trying to get in touch with him to find out
how far along he might be with that.