GPU STARTUP STORY: UBOOK’S KEYBOARD IS A VIRTUAL VIRTUOSO

[Editor’s note: Nearly three dozen companies participated in the Emerging Companies Summit, held during NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference in May. Below is one in a series of company profiles showcasing how startups are innovating with GPU technology.]

To succeed in a crowded market, many companies seek out niches. In the highly competitive notebook market, NajmTek has taken the opposite route.

Its UBOOK (short for “universal notebook”) is meant to be 100 percent adaptable to the user’s need, whether an adult or child, at home or work, for business or play, and in any language.

Combining the power and accessories of a laptop with the versatility and ease of input of a tablet, the UBOOK’s most notable feature is what’s not there: a physical keyboard. A sheet of sleek black glass is in its place.

NajmTek UBOOK showing Greek keyboard
NajmTek UBOOK displaying Greek
alphabet keyboard.

Upon booting the device, the glass lights up to reveal a capacitive-touch keyboard, one of the stars of NajmTek’s device (“najm” means star in Arabic). Thanks to the NajmSoft software suite, the keyboard is highly customizable. With the touch of a button, you can switch from a QWERTY-style layout to AZERTY (used in French-speaking countries), Cyrillic (used in many Slavic languages), Hindi, Arabic, Turkish, Thai … the list goes on.

You can also change the colors of the entire keyboard or certain letters, as well as the size of the keys. There’s room above the keys to set icons to quickly launch your favorite programs, applications or functions. The keyboard area can additionally accommodate specialized layouts for mathematics, design, computer programming and other uses.

The keyboard senses up to a dozen different points of touch. It can operate like a mousepad in its middle. It can be used with a stylus essential for drawing or managing some creative software applications. With the touch of a key, it can overlay a new window displaying shortcut buttons for other languages, software and applications. The high-resolution keyboard area can even convert to running touch applications, like a virtual piano, a DJ console, a remote control for medical devices or a host of other special uses.

The UBOOK uses multicore processors working with NVIDIA GeForce GPUs for high performance and speed and to manage different tasks simultaneously, including high-definition games and digital entertainment.

It includes a large hard drive, wireless connectivity, a variety of ports, a front-facing webcam and microphone, and it comes pre-installed with the Windows or Linux operating systems. NajmTek also developed two other key features: a free software development kit, so people can run a variety of applications or write their own, and an online applications store, in which UBOOK users can not only have immediate access to thousands of useful apps, but also share their applications with others.

NajmTek’s innovation earned it a gold medal at the 36th International Exhibition of Inventions held in Geneva in 2008 and the European ICT Innovation of the Year award at the ICT Spring Europe 2012 tradeshow in Luxembourg last June.

Recently relocated to San Jose, Calif., from France, NajmTek showed off a working prototype of the UBOOK this year at CES and NVIDIA’s Emerging Companies Summit. They hope to launch a commercial version by the end of the year.

You can find out more about the company and the UBOOK on their Facebook page and on the NajmTek website.

Similar Stories

  • http://www.facebook.com/raulhuerta Raul Huerta

    Just a moment ago I was dicussing with a partner how keyboards should evolve, and this was the natural evolution. Still, I would to see/conduct usability studies on the lack of button feedback can affect heavy typing sessions.

  • http://twitter.com/Zeal0t_ Kevin Erkelenz

     Couldn’t agree more, I have enough trouble as it is on those situations with non-mechanical keyboards due to the lack of feedback and the issue persists on cell phones when the words-per-minute get closer to 100.

  • James Peters

    For a long time, I wanted a Bluetooth Laser Keyboard, which would turn any flat surface into a keyboard. Then I began to wonder how typing on a hard surface would feel for long periods of time.

    Still, this may just be my next laptop right here…

  • bonsai_in_SF

    Touch typing on a capacitive touchscreen like the iPad has so far been a good experience for me. Looking forward to this UBOOK! 

  • Gary_Rainville

    Remember how some Gen Xers (like me) used to complain about typing on the new-fangled slide-out phone keyboards or BlackBerrys? Part of me wonders if “Generation Tablet” will be so used to capacitive touchscreens that it’s not even considered an issue for them. Adapt now or risk turning into my mother, who never did learn how to operate her VCR!

  • ouya geeks

    Let’s be realistic, the question is not about how the capacitive screen will be accepted or not…The hardware itself is fine, even though touch technology remains under-developed to me. It needs improvement and we haven’t reach that point yet even though IPAD, Iphone or other devices are doing pretty good.

    The question is how are they going to sell this ? They have no history, they never built anything before this computer, and they really think I’m going to trust a technology made and imagined by people who have nothing to do with HIGHTECH world? Nothing even close.With all the respect I have, I looked at the CEO profile and goodness her experience is poor in computing. How could it actualy work? I’ve just watched the presentation video…I mean CUDA technology? really? how? why? it seems so random like she is looking for something but she does not really know what… Besides, I’m sorry to raise that point but I hope they have better sellers than the CEO…

    The only way this could work is to have someone deeply implied in computing with a strong background or a company willing to buy them off the concept… Nobody will never trust such a random company. You do not build a laptop like this..companies that launch computers have been working years and years in the field before launching anything. It is not the case.

    Howaver ,I trully think this laptop will come out on the market one day but not with Namjtek..

  • Gary_Rainville

    Those are fair points about the advantages big companies have against upstarts. Being an entrepreneur involves a lot of risk-taking, and many have the passion to pursue a dream or try to accomplish what is said can’t be done — especially when told “it can’t be done”! It’ll be interesting to see how their story and technology plays out.