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

by Gary Rainville

[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.