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Context sensitive display for keyboard keys

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000028661D
Original Publication Date: 2004-May-26
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-May-26
Document File: 2 page(s) / 43K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

Keyboard key names display the common use of the key. The key stroke may have many consequences, depending on the current context. When the key use is different, the user may be unable to locate the correct key. Sometimes stickers (or masks) are used, especially in a multilingual situation, but this solution is both shabby and works only for small number of signs per key. Another solution is a virtual keyboard displayed on the computer screen, which shows the function of each key. This solution is harder to use, as it requires constant mapping between the virtual and the real keyboard. Further, its implementation usually is not context sensitive.

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Context sensitive display for keyboard keys

This article is about putting on each key a dynamic display (e.g. LCD) whose display is context sensitive. The idea is not limited to keyboards; it can be applied to any keypad, such as on cell phones, PDAs etc.

There are many situations in which this type of keyboard is needed:
1. Multilingual interaction. Most keyboards are intended for use with one, or at most two, languages. In the case of one language, the key name appears in the middle of the key, and in the case of two languages, each key can have two names. Adding more names makes it too cluttered, and choosing which three languages is an issue on its own. The bilingual model worked well with the previous generation of operating systems, which were localized. Today the trend is globalization, both operating systems and especially interaction with the web support viewing multiple languages at the same time, but when the user needs to type in data, he/she can have visual feedback for typing only with the two predefined languages the keyboard supports. With the context-sensitive keyboard, the key names are displayed on the keys according to the language selected on the language bar.
2. Typing special fonts (e.g. math) (font size) Another problem that can be addressed by a context-sensitive keyboard is typing with special fonts. Most word processors allow using special fonts for math, bullets, etc. However, when the user selects a specific font, he/she has no clue which character is mapped to which key on the keyboard. Many times I have found myself trying all the keys until I found the symbol I was looking for. With the context-sensitive keyboard, once the user enters the sp...