Browse Prior Art Database

Universal Layout Keyboard (ULK)

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000031334D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Sep-22
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Sep-22
Document File: 2 page(s) / 43K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

A computer keyboard able to adapt its layout to the language choosen by the user.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 52% of the total text.

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Universal Layout Keyboard (ULK)

A keyboard is disclosed which is able to change the symbols presented on its keys in response to the language choosen by the user.

    Currently, each language has its own hardware matched keyboard. Sometimes, the same language can have more than one matching keyboard each one with a different layout: for example, "Italian" and "Italian 142". Once the keyboard is bought, the set of symbols on it cannot be changed. Even though most of the times this is good enough, there are cases when it could cause problems to the user. Some, but not all, examples are:

    1) A user in a foreign country. In this case most, if not all, of the keyboards will have the national layout of that country. Even if the user could change the language of the Operating System (OS) to his own language, the keyboard's layout will remain the same which makes it hard to use because the symbol printed on a key could not match the one interpreted by the OS.

    2) A user who needs to type a document in another language. In this case, the OS is flexible enough to allow the user to change the input language, but again the symbols on the keyboard will not match the ones typed.

    3) The OS is installed choosing a different language, for example for testing purposes.

    So, today's OS are flexible enough to let choose the language more suitable to current needs, but the keyboards are not flexible at all: the set of symbols is choosen when the keyboard is build and the only way to change them is to phisically replace the keys.

    The Universal Layout Keyboard (ULK) solves this limitation by replacing the keys with a set of displays on which the OS can print the most appropriate symbol accordingly with the language choosen. Displays used in the ULK's keys are Electronic Ink(*) Displays (EID), a new generation of displays developed by E Ink Corporation (www.eink.com).

    Simply speaking, EIDs are made of a thin layer of plastic material filled with millions of tiny microcapsules suspended in a clear fluid. Some of the capsules are white, other are black. Black and white capsules have an opposite electric charge: white ones are charged positively, black ones are charged negatively. The front surface of the EID, the one presented to the user, is a transparent electrode. The bottom one is laminated to a layer of circuitry which forms a pattern of pixels that can be controlled by a display driver.

    When a negative charge is applied to one pixel, the black capsules are pulled to the top, which makes the spot to appear black to the user. The opposite happens when a positive charge is applied. So, modulating the charge applied to the plastic film it is possible to "write" on the display.

EIDs appear to be a good choice for an ULK because :
1) They can be realized on virtually any surface and practically in any form. This means that an...