Browse Prior Art Database

Rectilinear Pointing Device and Cursor Control

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000039833D
Original Publication Date: 1987-Mar-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Feb-01
Document File: 3 page(s) / 30K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

LeMaster, RJ: AUTHOR

Abstract

Many keyboard tasks require large rectilinear cursor movements (e.g., text editing, menu selection, and electronic spreadsheet work). The user must often move the cursor many characters (or cells in the case of spreadsheets) across a line on the screen or vertically across a number of lines. There are a number of common features on terminals and microcomputers today to help with this. They all have disadvantages. Typeamatic features have the inherent disadvantage of being rate controls. The cursor is either moving at a fixed rate, moving a character position or cell at a time, or not moving at all. The user often finds that either the typeamatic rate is too slow or too fast (so that he often overshoots his target), or that he is repeatedly tapping the cursor keys. Mouse-type controls have several disadvantages.

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Rectilinear Pointing Device and Cursor Control

Many keyboard tasks require large rectilinear cursor movements (e.g., text editing, menu selection, and electronic spreadsheet work). The user must often move the cursor many characters (or cells in the case of spreadsheets) across a line on the screen or vertically across a number of lines. There are a number of common features on terminals and microcomputers today to help with this. They all have disadvantages. Typeamatic features have the inherent disadvantage of being rate controls. The cursor is either moving at a fixed rate, moving a character position or cell at a time, or not moving at all. The user often finds that either the typeamatic rate is too slow or too fast (so that he often overshoots his target), or that he is repeatedly tapping the cursor keys. Mouse-type controls have several disadvantages. First of all, they require their own piece of desk space, usually at least 60 square inches. The mouse is not in a fixed location relative to the keyboard, so the user frequently has to move his eyes or at least divert his attention from the screen to locate the mouse before he can put his hand on it. In addition, with a character oriented (as opposed to bit mapped) display, it is easy to inadvertently move the cursor off the line it is on when moving it with a mouse. This is because the user's hand tends to move in an arc rather than a straight line when the mouse is moved. This article describes a cursor control device which has the advantages of being a direct positional control (like a mouse), provides strictly rectilinear control of the cursor (like cursor keys), and can be easily incorporated into a conventional keyboard, thereby requiring no additional desk space. The position of the device is fixed with relation to the keyboard so that a user will quickly learn to use it without diverting his attention from the screen, or wherever it was directed. The device consists of two touch-sensitive linear position sensors attached to the keyboard, as shown in the figure. Each sensor is capable of detecting the position along its length of a finger touching it. Such sensors are readily available in a variety of sizes with associated circuitry to enable interfacing to digital equipment. They will be referred to henceforth as "glide bars." The glide bar...