Browse Prior Art Database

Design for Dynamically Lighting a Keyboard

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000110078D
Original Publication Date: 1992-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Mar-25
Document File: 2 page(s) / 82K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Related People

Shrader, TJL: AUTHOR

Abstract

Disclosed is a design for dynamically lighting keyboard keys. Traditional computer keyboards are static. They do not provide any feedback to users other than a tactile feel when keys are pressed and tiny panels that light up when certain keys are pressed, such as the Caps Lock key. Keyboards have the opportunity to provide much more information to users at little additional cost. One particularly useful addition would be to add small LEDs (or small, durable diodes) to each key. Software could dynamically control the lighting of these keys.

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Design for Dynamically Lighting a Keyboard

       Disclosed is a design for dynamically lighting keyboard
keys.  Traditional computer keyboards are static.  They do not
provide any feedback to users other than a tactile feel when keys are
pressed and tiny panels that light up when certain keys are pressed,
such as the Caps Lock key.  Keyboards have the opportunity to provide
much more information to users at little additional cost.  One
particularly useful addition would be to add small LEDs (or small,
durable diodes) to each key.  Software could dynamically control the
lighting of these keys.

      The key blocks on a traditional keyboard are sturdy enough to
take the pounding of the fastest touch typist.  Adding small LEDs
that fit under the surface of the key would allow the same shape and
feel of the key blocks to be retained.  The only difference would be
that of a small, low-level light, perhaps rectangular in shape, near
the bottom of the top surface of the key block.  For detachable
keyboards, these LEDs would be powered by the wires in the keyboard
cable that attach to the computer.  The required voltage would be
minimal.  (One such design for illuminated keys is presented in U.S.
Patent 5,034, 602.)

      In the case of portable computers, these lights would work the
same, yet they have the potential for providing guidance lighting in
dimly lit situations.  For those users that are not touch typists,
they can quickly find the home keys or the appropriate key on the
number pad by using these lights.

      These lights can also help poorly sighted individuals.  The
LEDs could be in the shape of the letters or symbols of the keys that
they are located in.  This would require that each key block be
unique, but again, it would help non-touch typists in areas of poor
lighting, such as on an airplane at night.

      Since power is supplied by the keyboard cable, the keyboard
driver in the operating system for a computer could be extended to
allow the application program to show which keys can be pressed at a
certain time, such as with menu options or dialog...