I don't often blog about PC peripherals, especially ones related to gaming, but I think I'll make an exception today because the device I saw over the weekend could very easily serve many useful functions in the data center.
It's called the zBoard, originally from a company called Ideazon, which was recently bought out by Steelseries. What they have is a keyboard base that accommodates removeable keysets that can be optimized for specialized tasks.
My son picked one up using his Christmas and birthday money and he now plays World of Warcraft with a keyset optimized for the game with specialized macros and function keys. That set can be easily popped out and replaced with a QWERTY keyboard, a more generalized gaming keyboard or, how about this, one designed to provide very specific functionality within the enterprise.
I can easily imagine keysets geared toward the management of servers, storage, network devices, appliances, even LAN/WAN control. Employees can even be supplied with their own keysets to perform specific functions at general-purpose client stations throughout the enterprise.
Standard keyboards are very versatile, but they do require a lot of mousing through various windows to locate the right commands. A keyset could accomplish very specific tasks with a couple of keystrokes.
Our zBoard cost $50 and the set cost $20, which is on the high end of the keyboard spectrum. But if an enterprising OEM were to start designing keysets on a large scale, it's very possible that costs would be no greater than a standard board.
Food for thought.