Original Publication Date: 2004-Dec-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Dec-01
The MouseBoard input device reduces the amount of time and effort users spend switching between the computer keyboard and the pointing device during their day-to-day interactions with their computer. For users in data entry occupations, this combination keyboard and pointing device can greatly enhance the speed and accuracy of their interaction with their computer. MouseBoard integrates the pointing device into the keyboard in such a way that users move the cursor with the keyboard, enabling them to keep their hands and fingers at the keys at all time. The MouseBoard design has additional benefits, such as: smaller hardware footprint on the user's desktop, greater accessibility for persons with disabilities, and alternate design embodiments providing greater ranges of cursor movement and behavior on the screen. MouseBoard can also be easily applied to traditional computers keyboards, laptops, gaming consoles, kiosks, and PDA devices.
Current pointing devices are limited in their usefulness. For example,
In computers that employ a separate keyboard and mouse, users must take the
dominant hand off the keyboard in order to use the mouse. In data entry-intensive occupations this is quite cumbersome and interruptive.
In a laptop or a keyboard with a built-in Trackpoint* or touchpad, users must still take
one or two fingers off the keyboard to reposition the cursor and interact with screen objects.
Existing pointing mechanisms which are compact and integrated with the computer
do not easily accommodate expanded range of motion, such as that needed to manipulate objects in 3-dimensional rendered spaces.
In a typical desktop environment, with a separate keyboard and mouse, the mouse
takes up a roughly 50% more space in the user's work area than a keyboard alone. There is a slight cognitive burden placed on the user with separate mouse and
keyboard input devices. The user must mentally shift between navigation and data entry.
Existing input devices are not accessible. The mouse, Trackpoint, and touchpad are
difficult for users with impaired fine motor skills.
This new input device combines the keyboard and the pointing device in such a way that users don't need to take their fingers off a single key, yet are able to navigate existing 2-dimensional interfaces as well as more complex, 3-dimensional interfaces with a single mechanism. It eliminates tedious, miniaturized controls integrated with laptop keyboards, as well as bulky separate mouse/joystick, reclaiming valuable desktop and keyboard real estate.
This new device enhances the keyboard to include navigation in a new way. Rather than relying on auxiliary devices such as Trackpoints or touch sensitive pads which engage the fingers, this novel mechanism employs a moveable keyboard (or part thereof, such as the wrist rest) that sits atop a stable base. The palms of the hands gently press on the surface to move the cursor in a desired direction. This device applies the same principle as the Trackpoint but to a much broader control surface. Because this surface is larger, more complex movement can now be easily realized, again without getting the fingers off the keys. For example, the surface can be "twisted" in one direction for a yaw movement, or pushed down in one direction for a roll movement.
With this mechanism, users effectively move the cursor on the screen by pushing on the keyboard surface instead of interacting with a pointing device. By applying gentle pressure with the palms of their hands the entire surface can be "moved" in any direction in the same way as a Trackpoint. This action in turn controls the cursor on the screen. The control (movable) surface can be the entire keyboard or just the wrist rest area.
Figure 1 shows the basic anatomy of this mechanism. Callout (1) shows two palms sitting atop the keyboard top movable surface, indicated by (2). The keyboard sits on top of base...