Original Publication Date: 2002-Oct-03
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2003-Jun-21
In prior art computing devices, it is common to have a display cursor controlled by a pointing device. This pointing device may be a separate device (e.g. a mouse) or incorporated into the keyboard, such as a touch pad integrated into a laptop keyboard. The pointing device typically has two or three buttons. Pointing to a particular graphic object, text or icon and pressing a pointing device button, or a combination of buttons, will yield particular functions, depending upon the software application being used. For example, in a graphics drawing program, the left mouse typically selects a graphic object for subsequent manipulation, while the right mouse button may display a menu providing a list of actions that may be performed on the selected object. A middle mouse button (or a double click of the left mouse button) may perform some other predetermined action, such as replacing the selected object view with a more detailed view. Of course, the above description is exemplary and the number of possibilities for the numerous software applications available is near endless. While this method of interfacing with software applications has served users well, there are certain industry trends in place that motivate the disclosure discussed infra. First, there is a continuing trend to make computing devices ever smaller and lighter. Second, the industry is highly competitive and, accordingly, any reduction in the number of physical components of a device may provide important cost competitive advantages for the manufacturer of the computing device. In view of these trends, it is highly desirable from a size, weight and cost perspective to offer a pointing device with only a single physical button which will perform with all existing software applications in a manner which is 100% compatible with conventional two and three button pointing devices. This disclosure teaches a single physical button pointing device, together with the appropriate software drivers, that can simulate a "left mouse click", a "right mouse click" and a "double mouse click". In one embodiment, the cursor is the shape of an equilateral triangle. The left point of the triangular cursor represents a left click of the mouse, the right point of the triangular cursor represents a right click of the mouse and the middle point of the triangular cursor represents a double click of the left mouse button. Furthermore, a "dot" or other indicia (hereinafter referred to as the "active dot") identifies which of the three points is in the active state. The default active state is the left mouse click. To change active states, the single physical pointing device button is depressed, but the corresponding release is momentarily delayed. During this delay period, the active dot rotates from left click, to right click to double click, and back to left click again. This rotation continues until the single physical pointing device button is released at the particular active state desired by the user. Therefore, in practice, the user places the appropriate point of the triangle on the object of interest for the desired function, depresses the single physical button, momentarily delays the release (if necessary), and releases the physical button when the active dot is coincident with the "object selecting" point of the cursor. The software drivers for the single button pointing device generate the appropriate signal to the operating system signifying a left click, right click or double click of the mouse in accordance with the active state of the cursor.