Indication of keyboard entry modes (shift modes) by vibration of a keyboard
Original Publication Date: 2000-Aug-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Disclosed is a Personal Computer with a keyboard that vibrates in response to a signal from the computer which indicates the current state of keyboard entry mode (shift mode). This invention enables blind touch key entry of an English and Japanese mixed text with higher productivity and less mental fatigue or irritation. In a Personal Computer with a English/Japanese keyboard designed to be capable of processing alpha-numeric characters (ASCII) and Japanese characters (Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana) loaded with a character conversion program such as IME and ATOK (referred to here as FEP Front End Processor), usually the entry mode is indicated in the monitor with small icons or symbols controlled by the FEP. When the user of the computer is engaged in key entry operation he/she is suppose to know the current input mode by seeing the indicator. Operational principle here is that whenever the user wants to enter a character in the key entry mode not matching his/her intention, he/she must change the mode to the one he/she intends to use by pressing a shortcut key or manipulating a mouse. This mode recognition by eye sight is onerous when typing a long English Japanese mixed text in a blind touch fashion with eyes fixed on the paper manuscript. Oftentimes the user assumes the current entry mode without seeing the indicator in the screen and oftentimes he/she must re-type the text due to wrong assumption he/she made. In summary key entry operation with the current English Japanese keyboard leaves a room for improvement in productivity and amenity. This invention is for a Personal Computer to communicate the current keyboard entry mode to the user not by expecting the user to use eye sight but by positively vibrating the keyboard, so that the user can feel the entry mode the computer is in at any time his/her hand is touching the keyboard. This invention will help increase the productivity of blind touch typing and amenity of the typist. Examples of input mode expression by vibration are given in the following. Example A When computer program senses the change of input mode to Japanese mode it sends a signal to the keyboard to invoke vibration. This state continues until the entry mode is changed back to alphanumeric mode. Namely, the user knows the system is in alpha-numeric mode if he/she feels no vibration. He/she knows the system is in Japanese mode if he/she feels vibration on the keyboard. Example B Design a keyboard to vibrate itself in different frequencies, patterns and strength each distinctively discernible from the rest by touching. With this multiple vibration mode a multiple blind recognition of entry mode becomes possible beyond simple ON/OFF toggle fashion. An example of signal assignment is, no vibration alphanumeric mode, vibration A Hiragana/Kanji mode, and vibration B Katakana mode.