Automatic Prompting of Alternate Function to achieve Dual Pointing Device Synergy
Original Publication Date: 2002-Jun-11
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-20
Portable computers are equipped with integrated pointing devices such as pointing sticks, touch pads, and track balls. Recently, two pointing devices, the stick and the pad, have penetrated nearly 100% of the portable computer market. Unfortunately, most users prefer one or the other, and do not like to use them interchangeably. Stick users typically cite accidental activation and lack of precision for reasons to hate touch pads. Touch pad users typically site increased difficulty in learning how to use the TrackPoint effectively. Recently, portable computer manufacturers have been including both pointing sticks and touch pads on their products in order to address market demand. Such dual pointing portable computers offer both devices simultaneously, although most users will pick their favored device and use it predominantly. One issue is that having both devices integrated on the system can still create frustration for users. For example, a pointing stick (e.g., TrackPoint) user may be frustrated by accidental activation of the touch pad because their hands are naturally positioned to accidentally hit the touch pad while typing or using the pointing stick. This can lead to a user accidentally performing a mouse click, and perhaps even deleting data accidentally. One way to avoid such frustration is to re-configure the unused pointing device to perform an alternate, non-pointing function or simply disable the unused device. Such functionality could be designed to be very useful, but robust to accidental activation. In other words, the alternate function could be activated easily on purpose, but it would be difficult to activate the alternate function by accident. The purpose of the current invention is to treat a dual-pointing device computer (particularly a touch pad and pointing stick) as if it had a single, logical pointing device. Thus, when the user selects their primary pointer, they are prompted to configure the other, presumably unused, pointing device to perform an alternate but useful function. For example, if a user of a dual pointing system selects the pointing stick as their primary device, they would be automatically prompted to select an alternate function for the TouchPad (e.g., scrolling device, virtual EZ Keys, etc.) or simply disable the unliked device. In this way, the user will experience the synergy of the two devices' primary and alternate functions, despite that one device is disliked as a pointing device. This will increase satisfaction with the dual pointing device, instead of frustration that the unused, unliked device is always "getting in the way."