GB2076743A - Input Device for Generating Characters - Google Patents

Input Device for Generating Characters Download PDF

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Publication number
GB2076743A
GB2076743A GB8016466A GB8016466A GB2076743A GB 2076743 A GB2076743 A GB 2076743A GB 8016466 A GB8016466 A GB 8016466A GB 8016466 A GB8016466 A GB 8016466A GB 2076743 A GB2076743 A GB 2076743A
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GB
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
switches
hand
symbol
combination
device
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Withdrawn
Application number
GB8016466A
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
SCISYS W Ltd
Original Assignee
Scisys W Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B41PRINTING; LINING MACHINES; TYPEWRITERS; STAMPS
    • B41JTYPEWRITERS; SELECTIVE PRINTING MECHANISMS, e.g. INK-JET PRINTERS, THERMAL PRINTERS, i.e. MECHANISMS PRINTING OTHERWISE THAN FROM A FORME; CORRECTION OF TYPOGRAPHICAL ERRORS
    • B41J5/00Devices or arrangements for controlling character selection
    • B41J5/08Character or syllable selected by means of keys or keyboards of the typewriter type
    • B41J5/10Arrangements of keyboards, e.g. key button disposition
    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06FELECTRIC DIGITAL DATA PROCESSING
    • G06F3/00Input arrangements for transferring data to be processed into a form capable of being handled by the computer; Output arrangements for transferring data from processing unit to output unit, e.g. interface arrangements
    • G06F3/01Input arrangements or combined input and output arrangements for interaction between user and computer
    • G06F3/02Input arrangements using manually operated switches, e.g. using keyboards or dials
    • G06F3/023Arrangements for converting discrete items of information into a coded form, e.g. arrangements for interpreting keyboard generated codes as alphanumeric codes, operand codes or instruction codes
    • G06F3/0233Character input methods
    • G06F3/0235Character input methods using chord techniques

Abstract

The device comprises a base shaped so that a hand can rest on it in relaxed condition with the base supporting the major part of the weight of the hand. Switches 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34 are positioned for actuation by slight movements of the fingers, thumb and optionally the heel of the hand. Particular symbols are generated by actuation of one or a combination of the switches and decoding means determine the symbol corresponding to the one or combination of sensing switches actuated to provide an output which can then be passed to symbol generating means to generate that symbol in a device linked to the input device. The device can generate a wide range of symbols and may be associated with a large capacity memory such as a bubble memory so that the combination can be used to record information which can then later be reproduced in printed form. <IMAGE>

Description

SPECIFICATION Input Device for Generating Characters, Symbols, Functions, Words and Like Information This invention relates to the entering of characters, symbols and the like into machines which normally would be provided with some form of keyboard to enter such characters or symbols.

Conventional keyboards, as in a typewriter or computer terminal, usually consist of a large number of keys arranged so that they can be actuated by movement of the fingers of an operator. Usually both hands are used particularly where the keyboard has a large number of keys since a single key will generate one unique character although in, for example, a typewriter depression of a shift key whilst depressing a letter key can cause the typewriter to print in upper or lower case so in effect doubling the number of output characters which can be produced from the individual keys.

The keyboard is however relatively bulky and, in for example electronic calculators, occupies the major part of the device and indeed the size of the device is usually limited by the size of the keyboard. In addition, the operation of such keyboards is relatively tiring since the hands need to be maintained above the keyboard and cannot rest on the keyboard.

The invention has therefore been made with these points in mind and it is an object of this invention to simplify the keyboard so that it is more compact and less tiring to use.

According to the invention there is provided an input device for generating characters, symbols, functions, words and like information, hereinafter collectively called "symbols", comprising a base shaped so that a hand can rest on it in relaxed condition with the base supporting the major part of the weight of the hand, sensing switches carried by the base, the switches being positioned so that they can be actuated by slight movements of fingers, thumb, and optionally additionally the heel of the hand resting on the base, particular symbols being generated by actuation of one or a combination of the switches, and decoding means for determining the symbol corresponding to the one or combination of sensing switches actuated to provide an output which can then be passed to symbol generating means to generate that symbol in a device linked to the input device.

Also according to the invention there is provided a method of generating a character, symbol, function, word or like information, hereinafter collectively called a "symbol", in which one or a combination of sensing switches are actuated by slight movements of the fingers, thumb and optionally additionally the heel of a hand whilst it is resting on and is supported by a base shaped to support the hand in a relaxed condition so that the major part of the weight of the hand is taken by the base, different symbols being generated by actuation of different individual or a combination of the sensing switches at any one time, and the individual or combination of sensing switches actuated are decoded to provide an output for symbol generating means to produce that desired symbol corresponding to the individual or combination of switches actuated.

An input device according to the invention can be quite compact and need be no larger than required to accommodate a hand resting on it.

Despite this, a large number of symbols can be generated because of the large number of possible different combinations of individual switches which can be actuated. Also, the hand can rest in a relaxed condition on a base and so the device need not be tiring to use. Further, it can be used with just a single hand; this has the advantage that the other hand can be left free to enable it to be used for other functions such as writing or following input information.

We have found that it is convenient to provide eight switches on the base. Four can be positioned under the fingers, for example near the tips of the fingers or under the knuckles. Two further switches can then be positioned to be operated by the thumb, one switch being operated by downward pressure of the thumb and the other switch by side-way movements of the thumb towards the fingers since the thumb is normally moved in these two directions during its normal everyday functions. The last two switches can be placed under the heel of the hand at the base of the palm, one near the base of the thumb and the other on the opposite side to be operated by twisting movements of the hand and wrist.

This number of switches has been found most conveniently to fit in with the everyday normal easy movements of the hand which are available when the hand is laying in a resting or relaxed, slightly curved, condition. However, there may be extra switches for example on the palm near the base of the fingers or less switches such as one or none under the palm and only one for the thumb depending upon the number of symbols which need to be generated. In practice, we find that with eight sensing switches this gives the possibility of over 100 possible combinations made up of the actuation of one or more switches simultaneously and so provides a large number of possible combinations which is sufficient for most uses.

The switches should be capable of being actuated by slight movements of the fingers. Such slight movements are in contrast to the relatively large downward movements required when operating say a conventional- typewriter. Thus, it is important to ensure that the hand is supported in a relaxed condition on the base and then pressure by one of the fingers can be used to actuate the switc$. In the case where the switch becomes actuated by means of slight movement, the degree of movement of the finger will still be very small indeed.In a preferred embodiment of the invention, however, the movement required of a finger is almost zero since zero movement pressure sensitive key switches, e.g. piezo-electric switches, may be used which are operated by applying pressure and not movement of the switch and we find that such pressure sensitive switches are best positioned so as to be actuated by bony parts of the fingers and hand, e.g. under the knuckles of fingers.

Besides producing symbols such as numbers or letters or frequently used combinations of letters, e.g. "the", "gh", "ing", "ei", etc., symbols which can be produced include punctuation marks, carriage return and similar functions which are available on a typewriter keyboard and further editing functions such as the insertion and deletion of characters, new paragraphs, erasure, can also be included. In addition, an individual user may decide to programme his own particular symbols into the machine in the event that for example he regularly generates certain words or functions in his correspondence so that those words or functions could be generated by actuation of a single combination of switches.

Apart from the sensing switches there are no moving parts for the input device and so it can be very robust and even the sensing switches can be chosen so as to have no moving parts, e.g. piezoelectric switches.

In addition, the base can be moulded to suit the size and shape of the hand of a user so as to be comfortable for him or her to use. Further, left and right hand models can be produced to suit the individual user.

The input device can be used with any information processing device including, for example, typewriters, calculators, computer terminal, or any other keyboard in pace of a conventional keyboard. In addition, the device preferably includes a display which presents to the operator a visual display of the symbol which has been generated. Obviously, it is preferred that the display be of sufficient size to enable the symbol which has just been generated and a reasonable number of previously generated characters to be shown simultaneously so that, for example, the user can see the build-up of words or numbers and so can check to see that the entry he has made is correct.The size of the display will generally be limited by the overall size of the input device and for example the display may include sufficient individual character displays to show say one line of printing, the display being of the type which "scroll" so that the entry of additional characters causes the characters displayed to move one place to the left so that a new character is inserted on the far right of the display while the character which was displayed on the unit furthest to the left drops out of view.

Because the input device can be compact it can, for example, be used together with a bubble memory or other small, high capacity memory to be used by someone as a portable device for recording information in often than spoken form as in a small tape recorder. Such a device would be particularly useful for executives and professional people who may wish to take notes at a meeting or the like and could do so with such a device. Then when returning to their office it could be attached to a word processor or typewriter which would reproduce in print the information stored in the memory.

The device of the invention can include an electronic keyboard scanner and decoder, or microprocessor performing the same function of detecting the individual switch or switch combination actuated and which either contains within it a translation table from which the microprocessor can detect the particular symbol chosen or separate exchangeable translation table circuit. The microprocessor would then generate an output corresponding to that symbol in any industry-standard format and this output should be in a form which is used as the input to the information device with which the input device is to be used. Such types of outputs are conventional and well known from typewriters, calculators, computer terminals and the like.

Because only slight movements of the fingers are required to generate a particular symbol, symbols can be generated more quickly than is the case for conventional keyboards. Therefore, as compared with conventional keyboards it is possible to generate input information more quickly.

The particular symbols generated by certain individual or combination of switches will be chosen according to the ease with which particular switches can be operated and the frequency of occurrence of particular characters.

Taking as an example, an alphabet, it is clearly desirable that vowels be generated easily since they occur most frequently in the English language. Also, it is true to say that the fingers first of all and perhaps the thumb secondly can actuate the switches most easily. Therefore, the vowels, for example, can be produced by actuating individual switches associated with the fingers and the thumb. The letter "t', for example, is a non-vowel letter which is required frequently.

Therefore, this could be generated by the actuation of all of the fingers and the inward movement of the thumb. As will be appreciated the particular sequence table drawn up depends upon the particular use of the equipment with which the input device is associated but this can readily be determined from a study of the ease and speed of operation of key combinations and the frequency of requirement for particular symbols. When designing input devices of the invention for use with different languages, it may be necessary to use a different translation table for the microprocessor since different letters, appear with different frequencies in different languages. However, the speed and ease of the operation of particular keys or combination of keys will be consistent from one application to another. Further, the large number of symbols which can be generated allows the device of the invention to be used as a multiple-language keyboard.

Another advantage of the invention is that because of the large number of possible combinations of keys, some combinations can be left unused for an individual user to program the device so that such unused combinations can represent symbols or functions which that individual users regularly, e.g. his company's name or technical expressions.

The invention will now be described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Figure 1 is a perspective view of an input device according to the invention; Figure 2 is a block diagram showing one embodiment of the electronics used in an input device according to the invention; and Figure 3 is a block diagram showing a modified embodiment of the electronics used in an input device according to the invention.

The input device 10 according to the invention and shown in Figure 1 includes a cover 12 shaped so that a hand in a relaxed condition can rest on that cover.

In this way, most of the weight of the hand can be supported by the cover and which is shaped so that as far as possible the weight of the relaxed hand is spread evenly across its area.

Since the shape of an individual user's hand will vary from user to user, it is preferred that the cover 12 be made to the individual shape of a user and this can be achieved relatively easily by, for example, allowing the user to mould a block of malleable material to the desired comfortable shape for his hand followed by casting, moulding or forming the cover 12 over the shaped block.

The particular relaxed configuration of the user's hand is found very simply by allowing the user to relax his hand and allow it to rest on the block.

Because the cover 12 will normally be tailormade for each user, the cover 12 is desirably made from a relatively thin, rigid plastics material and is supported on a base 14 and this base 14 can house the electronics associated with the input device.

As can be seen from Figure 1, the cover 12 has three roughly parallel ridges 1 6 and they help to define hollows 17 in which individual fingers are accommodated. At the left hand side of the base is curved recess 18 in which the thumb can rest.

Of course, the input device 10 shown in Figure 1 is for use by the right hand and if desired the cover 12 can instead be for use by a left hand in which case of course the recess 18 for the thumb will be on the right hand side.

Eight pressure sensitive electrical switches 20 to 34 are positioned so as to be embedded in the surface of the cover 1 2 substantially flushed with its outer surface. Four switches 20 to 26 are positioned near the ends of the hollows 1 7 so as to be operated by slight movements of the fingers. Two switches 28 and 30 are positioned in the recess 1 8. The switch 28 can therefore be operated by downward pressure appiied by the thumb whilst the switch 30 is operated by inward movement of the thumb towards the fingers. The remaining two switches 32 and 34 are positioned so as to be actuated by twisting movements to the left or to the right of the heel of the hand.

Referring now to Figure 2, this shows the general schematic arrangement of the electronics associated with the input device 10 and shows the switches 20 to 34. These switches are connected to a keyboard scanner 40. This determines the particular one or combination of switches 20 to 34 which are actuated simultaneously and in particular determines this by monitoring the reopening of the switches. It is linked to an ROM memory 42. This memory 42 is programmed with a translator table giving information concerning the actuation of switches or combination of switches which correspond to particular symbols. Once supplied with this information from the scanner 40, the memory 42 will feed back to the scanner 40 information concerning particular symbols.On receipt of this information, an electrical output 44 corresponding to the symbol is provided in a form compatible with whatever piece of equipment the input device 10 is associated.

The embodiment shown in Figure 3 differs slightly from that shown in Figure 2 in that the scanner 40a decodes the particular switch or combination of switches which are actuated and passes this information to the memory 42a and then the memory 42a converts the input information from the scanner 40a into a symbol output 44a.

One advantage of the arrangement shown in Figure 3 over that shown in Figure 2 is that the memory can readily be exchanged with a different memory having a different translation table programmed into it in the event that one wishes to convert the input device for use with one language to another language or from one use to another use. Also, it would be easier to program the arrangement shown in Figure 2 so that the memory 42 generates a symbol in the form af a complete word, sentence or the like, than would be the case for the arrangement shown in Figure 3.

Claims (11)

Claims
1. An input device for generating characters, symbols, functions, words and like information, hereinafter collectively called "symbols", comprising a base shaped so that a hand can rest on it in relaxed condition with the base supporting the major part of the weight of the hand, sensing switches carried by the base, the switches being positioned so that they can be actuated by slight movements of the fingers and thumb of the hand resting on the base, particular symbols being generated by actuation of one or a combination of the switches, and decoding means for determing the symbol corresponding to the one or combination of sensing switches actuated to provide an output which can then be passed to symbol generating means to generate that symbol in a device linked to the input device.
2. A device as claimed in Claim 1 in which there are switches positioned on the base so that they can be actuated by slight movements of the fingers, the thumb and the palm or heel of the hand resting on the base.
3. A device as claimed in Claim 1 or Claim 2 in which the switches are zero movement pressure sensitive switches.
4. A device as claimed in any preceding claim which has a visual display to show the symbol generated.
5. A device as claimed in Claim 4 in which the display is of the type which scrolls and means are provided to edit the symbols shown in the display, those means being controlled by the actuation of a particular one or combination of switches.
6. A device as claimed in any preceding claim in which the device further comprises a memory for storing the symbols in the order which they are generated, the memory being capable of being recalled to provide an output which can control a printer to reproduce symbols.
7. A device as claimed in Claim 6 in which the memory is a non-volatile read-and-write random access memory.
8. An input device for generating characters, symbols, functions, words and like information, substantially as herein described with reference to Figures 1 and 2 or Figures 1 and 3, of the accompanying drawings.
9. A method of generating a character, symbol, function, word or like information, hereinafter collectively called a "symbol", in which one or a combination of sending switches are actuated by slight movements of the fingers or thumb of a hand whilst it is resting on and is supported by a base shaped to support the hand in a relaxed condition so that the major part of the weight of the hand is taken by the base, different symbols being generated by actuation of different individual or a combination of the sensing switches at any one time, and the individual or combination of sensing switches actuated are decoded to provide an output for symbol generating means to produce that desired symbol corresponding to the individual or combination of switches actuated.
10. A method as claimed in Claim 9 in which the one or a combination of sensing switches are actuated by slight movements of the fingers, thumb and heel of the hand.
11. A method as claimed in Claim 9 or Claim 10 in which the sensing switches are zeromovement, pressure sensitive switches and at least certain of them are positioned so as to be actuated by contact with the bony parts of the fingers below the knuckle of a finger.
1 2. A method of generating a character, symbol, function, word or like information, substantially as herein described with reference to Figures 1 and 2, or Figures 1 and 3, of the accompanying drawings.
GB8016466A 1980-05-19 1980-05-19 Input Device for Generating Characters Withdrawn GB2076743A (en)

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Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
GB8016466A GB2076743A (en) 1980-05-19 1980-05-19 Input Device for Generating Characters

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GB8016466A GB2076743A (en) 1980-05-19 1980-05-19 Input Device for Generating Characters

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Cited By (13)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0134160A2 (en) * 1983-08-23 1985-03-13 Richard Holden Keyboard
EP0151009A2 (en) * 1984-01-30 1985-08-07 Quixote Corporation Keyboard entry system
FR2585487A1 (en) * 1985-07-29 1987-01-30 Guyot Sionnest Laurent Computer keyboards, <70 cm2 and less than 13 contacts operated combinedly by the fingers of one hand
US4650934A (en) * 1984-11-08 1987-03-17 Burke Patrick G Hand movement controller
EP0217497A2 (en) * 1985-07-18 1987-04-08 Yoshiro Hashimoto Keyboard for use in an information processing device
US4694280A (en) * 1984-01-30 1987-09-15 Quixote Corporation Keyboard entry system
WO1988000137A1 (en) * 1986-07-07 1988-01-14 Crews Jay A Keyboard
US4849732A (en) * 1985-08-23 1989-07-18 Dolenc Heinz C One hand key shell
US4913573A (en) * 1987-02-18 1990-04-03 Retter Dale J Alpha-numeric keyboard
US4917516A (en) * 1987-02-18 1990-04-17 Retter Dale J Combination computer keyboard and mouse data entry system
US5270709A (en) * 1989-11-01 1993-12-14 Ferdinand Niklsbacher Keyboard unit for handling processor units
WO1997021168A1 (en) * 1995-12-05 1997-06-12 Mcalindon Peter J Ergonomic input device
US8947360B2 (en) 2009-08-07 2015-02-03 Vivek Gupta Set of handheld adjustable panels of ergonomic keys and mouse

Cited By (23)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US4655621A (en) * 1983-08-23 1987-04-07 Richard Holden Combinatorial keyboards which encode characters and a space
EP0134160A3 (en) * 1983-08-23 1986-01-08 Richard Holden Keyboard
EP0134160A2 (en) * 1983-08-23 1985-03-13 Richard Holden Keyboard
US4694280A (en) * 1984-01-30 1987-09-15 Quixote Corporation Keyboard entry system
EP0151009A2 (en) * 1984-01-30 1985-08-07 Quixote Corporation Keyboard entry system
US4638306A (en) * 1984-01-30 1987-01-20 Quixote Corporation Keyboard entry system
EP0151009A3 (en) * 1984-01-30 1985-10-09 Quixote Corporation Keyboard entry system
US4650934A (en) * 1984-11-08 1987-03-17 Burke Patrick G Hand movement controller
EP0217497A2 (en) * 1985-07-18 1987-04-08 Yoshiro Hashimoto Keyboard for use in an information processing device
EP0217497A3 (en) * 1985-07-18 1989-10-25 Yoshiro Hashimoto Keyboard for use in an information processing device
EP0213022A1 (en) * 1985-07-29 1987-03-04 Laurent Guyot-Sionnest Electronic single-handedly operated keyboard
FR2585487A1 (en) * 1985-07-29 1987-01-30 Guyot Sionnest Laurent Computer keyboards, <70 cm2 and less than 13 contacts operated combinedly by the fingers of one hand
US5087910A (en) * 1985-07-29 1992-02-11 Guyot Sionnest Laurent Electronic keyboard for one-hand operation
US4849732A (en) * 1985-08-23 1989-07-18 Dolenc Heinz C One hand key shell
EP0243188A3 (en) * 1986-04-25 1989-02-22 Quixote Corporation Keyboard entry system
EP0243188A2 (en) * 1986-04-25 1987-10-28 Quixote Corporation Keyboard entry system
US5017030A (en) * 1986-07-07 1991-05-21 Crews Jay A Ergonomically designed keyboard
WO1988000137A1 (en) * 1986-07-07 1988-01-14 Crews Jay A Keyboard
US4913573A (en) * 1987-02-18 1990-04-03 Retter Dale J Alpha-numeric keyboard
US4917516A (en) * 1987-02-18 1990-04-17 Retter Dale J Combination computer keyboard and mouse data entry system
US5270709A (en) * 1989-11-01 1993-12-14 Ferdinand Niklsbacher Keyboard unit for handling processor units
WO1997021168A1 (en) * 1995-12-05 1997-06-12 Mcalindon Peter J Ergonomic input device
US8947360B2 (en) 2009-08-07 2015-02-03 Vivek Gupta Set of handheld adjustable panels of ergonomic keys and mouse

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