Browse Prior Art Database

Context sensitive button displays Disclosure Number: IPCOM000016309D
Original Publication Date: 2002-Sep-16
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21
Document File: 2 page(s) / 52K

Publishing Venue



The Problem

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Context sensitive button displays

The Problem

It is common in many offices to have desktop phones that have many buttons. For example, the phone on my desk has 39 buttons. Some of these buttons are quite specialised and others have no obvious purpose, although they could represent spare capacity for future use. Because the phone provides many buttons it is large, taking up valuable desk space, appears intimidating and takes a long time to learn how to use.

The Solution

  Our proposal is to use fewer buttons but make both their function, and appearance, context sensitive. This is really an extension of the concept used in mobile phones today in which the function of the large central button immediately beneath the screen in some makes of phone is displayed on the screen itself above the button. In one context depression of the button might invoke a menu, in another context it might delete a message, and so on.

  By using fewer buttons, our proposal would make the phone smaller (taking up less space) and less intimidating. The phone should also be easier to use because the user would only be presented with the options that are immediately relevant to the action being performed at the time. For example, when the user has to enter a phone number they would see the digits 0 to 9 on the keypad as follows:

1 2 3

4 5 6

7 8 9


  But when the user would need to scroll up or down through a list of menu options the key 2 in the diagram above would appear as an up arrow instead, and similarly the key 8 would appear as a down arrow. Nothing would be visible on the other keys because they are not relevant to the context of vertical scrolling.

The context sensitive keys could be implemented in at least four different ways:
1) Physical buttons with a little LED/LCD display on each button. Such buttons would also have the advantage of being readily visible in the dark, a useful feature for mobile phones.
2) A touch sensitive display. In this case there would be no physical buttons. The user would only have to touch the picture of the button (which itself changes according to the context).
3) A picture of buttons on a computer's monitor or some other display device (eg., a Personal Digital Assistant with a built-in modem). In this case the phone would be truly virtual. When the user wanted to make a phone call they would start the phone application on their computer and a picture of a phone would appear on the screen (much in the same way as the interface of many of today's CD-playing software products on PCs resembles real CD players). Then they could use their mouse to press the relevant buttons (or the numeric keypad to dial a number). The pictures


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on the 'buttons' would again change according to context.
4) Braille buttons for blind users. Each key wo...