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System and Method for displaying keyboard functions

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000004364D
Publication Date: 2000-Oct-17
Document File: 3 page(s) / 327K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

The present invention is an LCD panel that attaches to a keyboard to show the functions of the keyboard's function keys instantaneously, according to the application currently active on the user's computer screen.

This text was extracted from a RTF document.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 85% of the total text.

System and Method for displaying keyboard functions

Just about every software application run on a personal computer makes use of the "function keys" found across the top of a typical keyboard. Different applications assign different uses to these keys. Actions may be assigned when a key is struck. Additional actions may be assigned when a key is struck in combination with the Shift, Alt, and Ctrl keys, or a combination thereof.

It is beneficial and efficient for the user to have knowledge of the actions performed by each function key, however these vary widely from application to application, and the operating system itself has default assignments for many of the keys for different states. What is needed is a way to indicate the functions performed by the function keys on a keyboard when a given application is in use.

The present invention is an LCD panel that attaches to a keyboard to show the functions of the keyboard's function keys instantaneously, according to the application currently active on the user's computer screen.

Figure 1 Diagram of Keyboard with Function Key Annunciator

Function key annunciator 101 attaches above the Function keys 105 and is connected via cable to Personal computer 130 by a cable to the computer's serial interface 115.

Figure 2 Schematic of LCD panel 200 in Function key annunciator 101

Figure 2 shows the LCD panel 200 of the Function key annunciator 101. It includes alphanumeric display zones for each of the 12 function keys on the keyboard 100.

The Windows and Macintosh operating systems include operating system software calls that enable programmatic logic to determine what application program is currently active. The programmatic logic of the software component of the invention compares the name of the active program to a list of program names for which the function key assignments are known. This information is stored in a configuration file. Programmatic logic sends messages to the Function key annunciator 101 to display the assigned function of each of the function keys 105. Additionally, the programmatic logic receives a signal from the operating system when the Shift key 140, Ctrl key 150, or Alt key 160 are depressed. This provides further information utilized by the programmatic logic to determine the messages presented on the LCD panel 200.

Step 300, Loading a software program. As the operating system loads during the boot process, a software module is loaded into memory that monitors the currently running application and the keyboard.

Step 310, Monitoring a session. As the user opens applications, programmatic logic determines which application is currently in use.

Step 320, Comparing to a list of known applications. Programmatic logic compares the name of the currently running program to a pre-defined list of software applications for which function key assignments are known.

Step 33...