WO2007084078A1 - A keyboard for a mobile phone or other portable communication devices - Google Patents

A keyboard for a mobile phone or other portable communication devices Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2007084078A1
WO2007084078A1 PCT/SG2006/000103 SG2006000103W WO2007084078A1 WO 2007084078 A1 WO2007084078 A1 WO 2007084078A1 SG 2006000103 W SG2006000103 W SG 2006000103W WO 2007084078 A1 WO2007084078 A1 WO 2007084078A1
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WO
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
button
keyboard
input options
sensor
input
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PCT/SG2006/000103
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Freeman Zhenhua Yu
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Simlab Inventions & Consultancy Private Limited
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Classifications

    • 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
    • G06F3/0234Character input methods using switches operable in different directions
    • 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
    • G06F3/0236Character input methods using selection techniques to select from displayed items
    • 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
    • G06F3/03Arrangements for converting the position or the displacement of a member into a coded form
    • G06F3/041Digitisers, e.g. for touch screens or touch pads, characterised by the transducing means
    • 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
    • G06F3/048Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI]
    • G06F3/0487Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser
    • G06F3/0488Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser using a touch-screen or digitiser, e.g. input of commands through traced gestures
    • G06F3/04886Interaction techniques based on graphical user interfaces [GUI] using specific features provided by the input device, e.g. functions controlled by the rotation of a mouse with dual sensing arrangements, or of the nature of the input device, e.g. tap gestures based on pressure sensed by a digitiser using a touch-screen or digitiser, e.g. input of commands through traced gestures by partitioning the screen or tablet into independently controllable areas, e.g. virtual keyboards, menus
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/02Constructional features of telephone sets
    • H04M1/23Construction or mounting of dials or of equivalent devices; Means for facilitating the use thereof
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/02Constructional features of telephone sets
    • H04M1/23Construction or mounting of dials or of equivalent devices; Means for facilitating the use thereof
    • H04M1/233Construction or mounting of dials or of equivalent devices; Means for facilitating the use thereof including a pointing device, e.g. roller key, track ball, rocker switch or joystick
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M1/00Substation equipment, e.g. for use by subscribers; Analogous equipment at exchanges
    • H04M1/72Substation extension arrangements; Cordless telephones, i.e. devices for establishing wireless links to base stations without route selecting
    • H04M1/725Cordless telephones
    • H04M1/72519Portable communication terminals with improved user interface to control a main telephone operation mode or to indicate the communication status
    • H04M1/72583Portable communication terminals with improved user interface to control a main telephone operation mode or to indicate the communication status for operating the terminal by selecting telephonic functions from a plurality of displayed items, e.g. menus, icons
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01HELECTRIC SWITCHES; RELAYS; SELECTORS; EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE DEVICES
    • H01H2217/00Facilitation of operation; Human engineering
    • H01H2217/024Profile on actuator
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01HELECTRIC SWITCHES; RELAYS; SELECTORS; EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE DEVICES
    • H01H2221/00Actuators
    • H01H2221/008Actuators other then push button
    • H01H2221/012Joy stick type
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01HELECTRIC SWITCHES; RELAYS; SELECTORS; EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE DEVICES
    • H01H2239/00Miscellaneous
    • H01H2239/07UV or IR detection, e.g. of human body
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H01BASIC ELECTRIC ELEMENTS
    • H01HELECTRIC SWITCHES; RELAYS; SELECTORS; EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE DEVICES
    • H01H2239/00Miscellaneous
    • H01H2239/074Actuation by finger touch
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M2250/00Details of telephonic subscriber devices
    • H04M2250/22Details of telephonic subscriber devices including a touch pad, a touch sensor or a touch detector
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04MTELEPHONIC COMMUNICATION
    • H04M2250/00Details of telephonic subscriber devices
    • H04M2250/70Details of telephonic subscriber devices methods for entering alphabetical characters, e.g. multi-tap or dictionary disambiguation

Abstract

A keyboard as disclosed is equipped with sensors or sensing structures for perceiving a finger's presence. It allows a single manual movement applied to a button, such as a key press action, to select any one of the optional characters overlaid on a button for inputting. This provides an efficient, flexible, and accurate text entry method. Such a keyboard or portable device avoids or lessens the problems of misspelling of predictive texting and slow typing speed associated with the conventional multi tapping single entry techniques. Furthermore, it can be implemented with other existing text entry techniques together in the same phone. Since this proposed technique, known as the single tap selective entry technique, conforms to the commonly accepted pattern of using a large-sized computer keyboard and requires little or no training, it is easier to be adopted by public for a more friendly, precise and speedy messaging operation.

Description

A Keyboard for a Mobile Phone or Other Portable Communication Devices

Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to portable electronic devices for communication. In particular, it relates to keypads or keyboards used for the portable electronic devices, such as mobile phones or handphones.

Background of the Invention

A mobile phone as a type of (portable) electronic communication devices has evolved to be a personal necessity, which provides the convenience of communication where telecommunication network exists. There is also a trend of 3C-integration in the market place where Computing (personal computer, LCD, computer peripherals), Communications (mobile phone, wireless network, etc), and Consumer electronics (projector, LCDTV, digital video-audio equipment, personal wireless/cordless video - audio, MP4, etc) start to merge. The distinction between a computer, an electronic personal organiser, a MP3 player, a portable FM/AM radio, and a handy gamming machine is gradually diminishing as they emerge into one palm-sized mobile electronic communication device, often with a telephony function. The list of new functions continue to grow and potential functions, such as electronic transactions, personal identification, voting, etc., are currently being considered for this typically palm-sized portable device.

Mobile telephones or handphones may support voice calls, sending and receiving data, images, faxes, SMS (Short text Message Service), MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), instant messaging (on-line chatting), e-mail, accessing WAP services, or providing full Internet access using technologies, such as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service).

The integration of many functions and features into such a powerful platform (e.g., Palm Treo 70Ow smartphone) demands a large keyboard or keypad which comprises buttons with a large number of language notes/characters, etc so that each button can carry an exclusive or definite input option for fast data entry. However, a keypad for mobile phones has to be small, slim and light because a mobile phone is not allowed to be too bulky to compromise its portability. Increasingly, more solutions are proposed to tackle this dilemma.

There are technology solutions being proposed to improve the speed of data entry to a handphone, such as the split keypad concept made known by RIM's in SG 2005 02823 - 8. Currently, there are mainly three solutions adopted in the market place. As the first solution, a keypad or keyboard is made to be connectable or detachable to/from the portable device and the keypad resembles a full-size QWERTY keyboard, which may be foldable, such as the Palm Universal Wireless Keyboard. The problem with this type of foldable keyboard solution is that a user has to carry an external keyboard together with the device which actually derogates the benefit of portability.

The second solution is to provide a mobile communication device with an almost full number of buttons similar to a full-size computer keyboard, either as a physical one reduced in buttons' size or as on-screen type, such as Samsung SGH-D307 equipped with a QWERTY keyboard, BlackBerry 8700 series with lots of buttons formed keyboard. Inevitably, those buttons on the keyboard have to be small for a portable device and it creates great difficulty for a normal or untrained user to operate it efficiently. A compromised solution has been put forward by Nokia handphone 6280 which offers two sets of keyboards where one typical alphanumeric keyboard is provided and another computer-like keyboard with an almost complete set of keys are also offered for messaging or e-mailing. This solution thus creates an excessive structure for flip opening, limits its screen size, increases its weight, escalates its cost, complicates its control, and offers duplicated user interface (keypads).

The third solution is to make a handset equipped with an onboard keypad with a small number of buttons (e.g., Motorola T191 with eighteen buttons, Nokia 6100 with 17 buttons, etc.) where alphanumeric characters/notes are overlaid/shared on a single button for input option selection. This is the most popular solution. For an example, alphanumeric notes "9", V1 "x", "y" and "z" share the same button as shown in figure 1. This phone standard for the arrangement of alphanumeric characters/notes on the buttons of a keypad, corresponding to ITU-T Recommendation E.161 , is entitled "Arrangement of Digits, Letters, and Symbols on Telephones and Other Devices That Can Be Used for Gaining Access to a Telephone Network" established by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). This standard is also well known as ANSITI.703-1995-1995/1999 and ISO/IEC9995-8: 1994.

A commonly associated technique for data entry for the third solution is called "multi tap single entry" or "multi-tap methodology", which makes a user tap a characters-shared button multiple times till a desired output is obtained out of those overlaid multiple input options of that button. It is thus not surprising that this technique sacrifices or lowers the speed of data entry significantly, as compared to the speed data entry or input using a full-sized keyboard. An example of a mobile communication device having a keyboard assembly with a character arrangement is described in the patent US 6 278 442 B1.

"Multi tap single entry technique, methodology, technique or technology" further limits the choices of characters for a small-sized keypad, including alphabets, numbers, symbols or other operational control functions. However, the reality is that there is very little room available for accommodating more buttons for many characters on a small mobile communication device's front panel because of the fundamental requirement of portability for a handphone.

The other disadvantage associated with the "multi tap single entry technique" is that a user has no choice except tapping following through the entire sequence of all input options till the desired input is selected. The overall sequence has to be followed rigidly again if the user misses one desired input option. For an example, if a user keys in "c" instead of the desired letter "b" on the button "2-a-b-c", he has to tap "c" followed by "2", "a", and then "b" again. He is not allowed to jump the queue of entry, which is quite annoying.

As the fourth type of solution, some other inventions have put forward technologies that aim to reduce the time for character/note input. US 6 295 052 and WO 02 / 088 920 A1 by Kato et al have proposed a data entry device in the form of a screen displayed character input unit that employs a reduced QWERTY arrangement on a touch screen keyboard. To enable faster notes input mainly for alphabetical characters or notes, mobile communication devices currently make use of predictive text or texting technology (methodology) to automatically correct common spelling mistakes and predict the desired word based on the keystroke input. Predictive text technique aims to have just one key press per letter for entry and works by referencing a dictionary of commonly used words. As the user presses the number buttons, an algorithm searches the dictionary for a list of possible words that match the key-press combination and offers up the most probable choice. The user can then confirm the selection and move on, or use a key to cycle through the possible combinations. Sometimes, this is combined with a word completion facility, or a learning system to remember the user's most common words. Predictive text methodologies often include a disambiguation engine and/or a predictive editor application, which are described by many patents, such as US 5 818 437; US 5 952 942; US 6 231 252; WO 62 150 A1 ; WO 99 59310 A2; WO 03 44650 A2; EP 1 035 712 B1; EP 129 621 A1; EP 1 378 817 A1 ; WO 2005 / 069 110 and EP 1 347 362 A1. Manufacturers including RIM1 Tegic, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, and NEC, among others, have adopted these technologies in QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, or DVORAK, etc keyboards.

As an example of predictive text input technique for getting "the" with a phone based on ITU-T Recommendation E.161 (see figure 1), it is only necessary to

• Press 8 once to select the (8-t-u-v) group for the first character/alphabet;

• Press 4 once to select the (4-g-h-i) group for the second character; and

• Press 3 once to select the (3-d-e-f) group for the third character/note.

The system updates the display as each key-press is entered to show the most probable entry. In this case, predictive text reduced the number of button presses from five to three. The effect is even greater with longer, more complex words. The predictive text entry technique allows a single key-press to obtain one definite output text, without the choice for selecting one of the input options of those overlaid alphabetical notes. In a world fond of neologisms using predictive text input technique, words produced by the same combination of key-presses are now being referred to as "textonyms", "adaptonyms", "cellodromes", and even "T9-agrams". One quoted example of textonyms shows an erroneous result of this technique that the keypresses required to produce the message "Ask the cool barmaid for nine pints of beer" could result in "Ask the book carnage for mind shots of adds". Some "textonyms" include:

• 63 = me, of;

• 7425464 = picking, shaking, sibling;

• 2275 = bark, bask, Carl;

• 5477 = kiss, lips (appropriately enough);

• 722435 = Rachel, rabid; and

• 22737 = bares, acres, carer, caper, barer, capes, cards, baser, cares, bards, bases, cases.

It can be realised that textonym can quite embarrassing for some text messages since the same sequence of key-presses may produces many different, sometimes confusing words outputs. In actual fact, predictive text technique is not an accurate, efficient text entry method because there are too many variants possible for the same key-press sequence and it is requires frequent corrections.

As an alternative to speed up data entry, text messaging abbreviations and text messaging for showing emotions is prevalent. For an example, "KOTL" stands for "Kiss on the lips" while "T+" stands for "Think positive". It is evident that users are seeking solutions to expedite text messaging.

Patent application US 2004 / 0 165 924 A1 proposed a keyboard user interface concerning alphanumeric characters' optimised layout. The technique of "multi tap single entry" is still followed and US 2004 / 0 165 924 A1 does not solve the problem of significantly restricted number of characters available for a simple, straightforward operation. Patent US 6 802 661 B1 presented a method of switching among multiple tables where each table allocates specific positions for alphabetical characters for selection. This technique is considered to be complex for a user to adopt and master based on the existing technique.

Therefore, the problem of a small keypad required for fast and efficient data entry still persists. The conventional techniques have significantly lower data entry speed than a typical computer keyboard or often give incorrect output. These problems are relevant to mobile phones, PDAs (Personal Digital Assistants), PIMs (Personal Information Managers), mini (handheld) computers (e.g., Microsoft Origami - a mini laptop, etc) two-way paging devices, pagers, portable electronic dictionaries or translators, an e-mail pager, a text pager, a wireless handheld, an alphanumeric pager, and others.

A solution for more accurate and faster text entries using a small notes or characters shared keypad for a portable electronic communication device is thus called for.

Summary of the Invention

The present invention aims to provide a new and useful keyboard (keypad) and method for portable electronic devices, either detachable or integrated. The present invention also aims to offer a new and useful method for using said keypad or keyboard for portable electronic (communication) devices, either detachable or integrated.

In general terms, the present invention presents a keyboard or keypad and method with a sensor or sensing structure equipped to help for giving an input to a portable electronic device selectively.

The present invention is thus defined in the independent claims. Some preferred features of the invention are defined in the dependent claims. In accordance with a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided a keyboard for a mobile phone comprising a plurality of buttons for giving inputs to the mobile phone; at least one of the buttons is overlaid with multiple definite input options exclusively under a mode of operation; wherein the keyboard has a sensor or sensing structure (in, on or near the button) for sensing an object's presence by its (object's) position, contact, movement, force, pressure, heat (temperature), or other (presence) properties (effects) on the button or keyboard, such as (caused by) a finger, a pointer, a pen, a fingernail, a stylus, or the like. The sensor may be connected to a (electronic) circuit integrated into a main circuitry of the phone for signal processing or communication. The button or keypad is not limited to square in shape, such as oval, triangle, etc. The advantage is that the sensor or sensing structure may bring the phone to alert the phone with a user's contact without the user's effort of active pressing a button. This may eliminate an additional step of user's manual action and provide convenience for phone's operation. The phone may use the sensor or sensing structure for actively switching to SMS mode, coming out of hibernating mode (idle mode for energy saving), sense the ambient temperature or voice communication mode, etc.

Here, "inputs" may be input signals sent to a circuitry of the (mobile) phone necessary for communicating or operating with the device. For example, it can be an instruction to turn up the volume or enter a character "#". An input may be generated when a user select an input option given by a button (e.g., shared on a button). Therefore, an input given to the device (phone) may be processed by the phone's circuitry to give an output on a screen.

Overlaid" may mean shared or assigned possible options of a button. This is a common technique to use a single for multiple input options' residing and may have the benefit of reducing the number of buttons required.

"Definite" in relation to input options may be interpreted as defined, unambiguous or substantive input options, such as an alphabetical note, a numeral, a character, etc. By contrast, a navigation key (rocker) (e.g., a computer or iPod player touchpad, etc) which moves or scrolls a pointer to up and down cannot be regarded as giving "definite" input option because the scrolling or moving of the pointer has no (exclusively) clearly assigned input option (e.g., up or down motion is same with different manuals). In fact, the pointer moves in an indeterminable manner and the choice of input option much depends on the input options already presented by the button assigned, which is from the assistance of a manual displayed (as indefinite), etc. For example, a navigation key used for a phone with (FIWAM) radio function has almost infinite number of choices and non-exclusive since it much depends on radio stations' frequencies available in that region, which is indefinite and both scrolling left or right may arrive the same radio station (broadcasting frequency) depending on the starting frequency.

"Exclusively" may be understood to be input options distributed or divided among buttons where two buttons or different buttons do not share the same input option. In other words, an input option is not assigned or can be achieved by two different button under the same operation mode may be considered as input options are "exclusively" arranged.

"A mode of operation" is an operation status or form for a device's operation. For example, a handphone may have a SMS mode for typing short message, a phone book mode for registering phone numbers, a setting mode for assigning date, time or others.

"Sensor or sensor structure" may not necessarily to be embedded in the button because it may be replaced by sensors around the button for objects' sensing. Approaching or contacting object's sensing may serve the function of indicating a key-pressing or the like, which helps input options' selection. Sensor or sensing structure may also be in a form of a (touch sensitive) soft sheet (film or membrane), a resilient layer or a hard cover on top or below the keyboard/button (e.g., on a LCD displayed keypad) separately or integrated with the button or keyboard (keypad).

According to a preferred embodiment, the keyboard has the sensor or sensing structure to initiate (a circuit of the keyboard or phone) a display of the (multiple definite) input options on a screen, the button, another suitable place or in combination of any of these for guiding when it senses (perceives) (detects) the object's presence by its position, contact, movement, force, pressure, heat (temperature), or other properties on the button or keyboard. The benefit is that the user may be guided by the displayed message, image or corresponding input options on the screen for selecting an input option. Especially, the multiple definite input options may be presented on a corner or part of the screen so that the user may visualise the input options at appropriate places corresponding to the button touched (sensed by the sensor or sensing structure). Sometimes, the enlarged or expanded input options displayed on the screen makes a user much easier to read because the scripts printed on a button is typically too small and is normally covered by the finger pad during a key-press.

According to yet a preferred embodiment, the sensor or sensing structure initiates vocalisation of the (e.g., corresponding to the button) input options via a speaker (phone, loud speaker, etc) when it senses the object's presence by its position, contact, movement, force, pressure, or temperature (heat) on the button or keyboard. This may be helpful for a visually impaired user who may follow the pronounced input options to make an input choice.

According to another preferred embodiment, the keyboard permits or is enabled with a single manual movement applied to the button or keyboard under the mode of operation to select different definite input options (e.g., corresponding to the button) at will. In other words, a finger does not have to be retreated to resume another action for selecting an input option to the phone. The finger may just touch the button equipped with a sensor so that the sensor triggers the phone to corresponding display input options on the screen. Then, following the orientation of the input options on the screen, the finger may proceed to press at a corner or edge of the button so that the selection of any one of the input options can be completed within one manual movement applied to the button. The conventional multi tapping is avoided. This may also prevents the problem of misspelling where a predictive texting technique is enabled to the phone. Since the current manual movement can select any of the input options available to the button, it is not dictated by the predictive texting software's intelligent guess. Rather, the manual movement can select the desired correct input option and possible further instruct the predictive texting engine (software) to rephrase the word correctly. This is to say that the predictive texting technology and the present single manual movement selection (termed as single tap multi selection technique) can be coexist in a phone and compliment each other. The single manual movement for multiple selections of input options is very close to the usage behaviour of using a normal large computer keyboard (e.g., a standard 101/102 - key or Microsoft Natural PS/2 Keyboard) where one stroke on a button gives a definite input to the computer. Therefore, a user may not need to learn the new technique in a hard way because it is simply intuitive and consistent with the user patterns of a QWERTY, QWERTZ1 AZERTY, or DVORAK, or other keyboards. Another possible benefit is that a user may be enabled to escape from tedious multiple tapping on the same button while notes can still be shared on the same button so that the total number of buttons required is reduced, which suits portable devices are requiring a keyboard with large capacity for inputting, such as PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant, e.g., Dopod 818Pro), Personal Information Managers (PIM), two- way paging devices, pagers, portable electronic dictionaries or translators, etc.

The single manual movement can describe a finger's (or a stylus, a nail ,etc) single, continuous and non-resuming (e.g., forward & retreat; forward & turn) action. For example, a rotational movement followed by a pushing is continues as a single manual movement while a clockwise rotational movement followed by a counter-clockwise manoeuvre is not a single manual movement because the retreat motion exists. On the other hand, a faster (light) approaching (e.g., contacting a button) followed by a slower (heavier) pushing is a single manual movement because the direction of movement has not been changed substantially. Alternatively, a finger's action of touching the button and then leaving may constitute a single manual movement or action. However, if an object move forward movement and retreat (single manual movement), then the object moves forward again similar to the initial forwarding direction, this will not be considered proper as a single manual movement because some of the movement direction (vector) may be duplicated. Non-duplication may be considered as one of the characters of a single (manual) movement.

Giving an input option at will may be a very important characteristic of some embodiments. This can mean "just as or when one wishes" without any limitation, such as predictive texting may only offer "predicted" input option for entry. A clear difference may be drawn that some of the embodiments allows a user to choose any input options available assigned to a pressed button for entry. This certainly does not prevent a manufacturer to enable some modification (e.g., predictive texting) to be incorporated together with the present embodiments.

According to yet another preferred embodiment, the sensing structure is formed by a multi-switch button for the single manual movement applied to the button or the keyboard under the mode of operation to select different definite input options (e.g., corresponding to the pressed/activated) at will, such as a navigation button or a rocking button. This is a simple integration of the sensing structure with a single manual movement applied to a button. In fact, if each of the buttons has a structure similar to a navigation button where multiple switches are combined into one, a user may simply press the input options overlaid "navigation button (rocking button)" at a corner (known as a single manual movement applied to the button) to select an input option available at will. Clearly, if the button is equipped with a sensor so that the screen displays corresponding input options when the button is touched will certainly help the user's selection. However, if the sensor is removed or deactivated, the user may select directly if he is familiar with the position of keypress enough.

The multi switch button can be a button integrates several switches to a single key/button or multiple buttons integrate together as a single assembly button. Preferably, allots one switch (e.g., electrical contact) to an input option. This is common with rocking buttons or navigation buttons, which can be found in mobile phone Samsung SGH-D820, Motorola A1000 phone, etc. A very common character of a navigation button or a rocking button is that it allows a user to tilt at an edge or corner for triggering.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the sensor or sensing structure is capacitive, optical (e.g., infrared), inductive, electrically or thermally conductive, mechanical, or in combination of any of these. There are many types of sensors suitable to be adopted for a button or keyboard, depending on usage requirements, such as environmental condition, long-term reliability, cost price, size, etc. For example, capacitive type sensor is more robust in resisting dust; optical sensor is more sensitive; inductive sensor is more reliable; electrical conductive sensor is very simple in structure, small in size and has low cost; thermal conductive sensor is more suitable to perceive human body's (e.g., a finger) temperature and avoiding sensing noise (keyboard contacted by an accidental press outside a pocket); mechanical structure type may has the lowest cost. There also can be a combination of different type of sensor installed on a single button so that various characteristics of the sensors can be utilised in an optimised manner.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the keyboard the sensor or sensing structure is force-differential, (presence) position-differential, movement- differential, pressure-differential, orientation-differential, in combination of any of these or the like. This may require a signal processing circuit, such as a microprocessor, to compare various force, position (alternatively known as presence), or movement signals sensed. Preferably with the help of a software package, the keyboard, which may also have its own processing circuitry, reads signals from a button or keyboard and decides on the exact location of the contact or key-press for targeting an input option. This has the advantages of avoiding ambiguity of contact locations (different buttons or corners of a button), intended or accidental key-presses, or clear direction of travelling of a finger or stylus. If orientation-differential technique is adopted, where orientation sensor(s) is/are installed in the keyboard or phone, a user may swing or rotate the phone make certain sequential, category, or mode or language mode or categories available. For example, a user may swing the phone to change from SMS mode to camera mode or swing to the left to select the left handside's choice of input choice (options), such as A1C, E etc of the keypad in figure 6.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the sensor or sensing structure is installed on the button, between neighbouring buttons or in combination of both. The sensor installed on a button or/and its corner(s)/edge(s) helps to get the signal of an object's contact. If multiple sensors are scattered between buttons, neighbouring buttons may share those sensors so that the total number of sensors required for all buttons can possibly be reduced. If sensors are installed both on the button and between buttons, possibly in a grid format (e.g., a dense mesh with sensors at the nodes), further detailed and possibly more accurate interpretation of the contact position can be achieved.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the sensor or sensing structure is overlaid with/on (above, under/below, or overlap) the keyboard (keypad) in a form of soft (flexible or resilient) or hard sheet (layer, cover, membrane). Therefore, the sensor or sensing structure may be used as additional protection layer, which can be replaceable or serviceable. Other features, such as antiglare, anti-scratch, etc can be further integrated.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the single manual movement is a vertical movement (e.g., a finger's vertical forcing down movement or substantially perpendicular to the keypad/button), a lateral movement (a finger's (horizontal) gliding movement), a combination (unified) of lateral and vertical movements (e.g., a finger's leaning pushing to the button). The vertical movement as a down-press to the button is natural and similar to most keypad usage patterns. A vertical press-down may help to get a default input. A lateral shift towards a designated direction (e.g., a diagonal corner or button) helps to pick up an overlaid input option. A leaning push integrates the single manual movement to a corner input option selection process thus avoid a possible secondary manual movement. The selection process is made easier and faster.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the plurality of buttons for giving inputs are distributed (on the keyboard) in a circular pattern, an oval pattern, a pentagon pattern, a hexagon pattern, at left and right bottom corners (e.g., the pattern given in Microsoft Origami - a mini laptop), or other (equilateral) symmetrical patterns. A distributed pattern of button allocation (e.g., circular, oval, etc) permits sensors to be more loosely arranged so that there is less space constrain for more or larger sensors.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the button has a feature to aid a finger's pushing to it, such as a portion of roughened surface, a portion of raised edge, a recess in a central area, a rubber surface, a combination of any of these features and the like. The further helps a user to execute pushing a button with certainty. For example, a slippery button may prevent a leaning push while a roughened button (or with raised rubber edge) may aid to grip the button tight and a leaning push is more properly executed.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the button is formed by a touch (sensitive) screen. Touch screens are commonly used and they have the advantage of being intuitive or user friendly. Especially with the some of the preferred embodiments, a touch screen may guide a user's finger to push a button on the screen, possibly with force differentiation techniques, etc. A touch screen further helps to enlarge the display area where no physical keyboard may be required. A touch screen implemented with sensors are specially helpful because a small portion of the screen for displaying buttons can be flexibly expanded to show enlarged overlaid input options, such as by the magnifying glass effect used in some Apple computers.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the button is a rocking button. A rocking button integrated multiple switches or electrical contacts at its various positions, preferably at the underneath circumference of a button. It may also have central electrical contact as a sensor for generating a signal when the button is pressed an object. Multiple input options may be dispersed to switches so that a corner or edge push can select the corresponding input option while the entire button may be made smaller than a congregation of buttons.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the button is a rocking button, a rotary dial, a digitiser scroll ball, a thumb (scroll) wheel or a button with a rotary function. A rocking button integrated multiple switches of a navigation button together with a central electrical contact. This is not just to add an additional button. The central electrical contact may be employed as a sensor because a thrust down movement applied to the button can be transmitted as a signal for indication, preferably before any circumferential switches' connection. A display of the input options can be made prior to input option selection. A button with a rotary function, such as a rotary dial, a digitiser scroll ball, a thumb wheel, assists a finger touch (may trigger a presence sensor) followed by a rotation for selection. Once in position where the input option may be highlighted on the screen, the user can push the wheel/ball to choose. A single manual movement (without necessity of a retreat movement for the second manual movement) thus possibly makes the selection very efficient and convenient.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the multiple definite input options scroll manually or automatically (till an input option is selected). The scrolling process is a course of displaying or highlighting the input options in a sequential manner which can be initiated when a finger touches a button overlaid with the input options. Once the finger releases the contact, the scrolling may stop and the last input option exhibited may be chosen for inputting to the phone. The scroll process may progress when a stylus presses continuously which is automatic, or it may progress by a finger's rotary movement on the button which is manual. One of the benefits of scrolling is that the input option available may attract more attention. For example, the highlighted input option may take larger font shown on the screen compared to the non-highlighted. The scrolling process can certainly be invisible if a user is already familiar with the timing of the scrolling or the scrolling can be non-visible, such as vocalised for helping the visually impaired. The process of scrolling is visible, highlighted, displayed or in any of these combinations which incorporates multiple benefits together.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, a process of scrolling is visible, highlighted, displayed, vocalised or in combination of any of these. This is useful to guide a user visually or audibly (aurally) so that a fresh user does not necessarily go through a training period to use the features provided by some of the embodiments. This can alternatively help some visually or aurally impaired people to use a phone and assist them to gain a more mobile life style for a better quality of life.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, an definite input option is an operational function, a mode of operation, an alphabet, a numeral, a symbol, a punctuation mark, a mathematical operator, a language character, a part of the language character such as a radical for Chinese characters, a currency symbol, an icon, a short-cut or a character of other categories (types). A button of the handphone can be assigned with various input options and these input options can be further divided into categories or groups. Depending on an operation mode, input options may be called out by software(s) so that specific types of input options may be made ready for selection during tapping. For example, alphanumeric notes or characters may be assigned for key-pressing when a user enters an e-mail or SMS mode. Alternatively, mathematical operators may be appointed to the buttons when a user enters a calculator mode.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the category of the multiple definite input options of the button changes with (follows, adapts to) the mode of operation. Certain default or frequently used categories of symbols are necessary to be allocated under a mode operation as discussed above. For example, the phone function of turn-on and turn-off may be set at the initial mode or default mode for more convenient operation because a user rarely requires to switch off a phone under a mode of SMS.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, a category of the multiple definite input options is overlaid on the buttons at an assigned sequential position. This helps a user to familiar with the locations of input options and makes data (or text etc) more efficient. For example, punctuation marks may be put at fourth positions of some buttons while alphabetic notes may be put first to third positions. The default position may be the numerals. This preferred arrangement may ease the text entry.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, a category of the multiple definite input options is overlaid together with another category in the same mode of operation as a group association. Some categories of input options are more conveniently to be assigned together under the same mode of operation. For example, the default input numerals may be set together with functions for phone's (portable computers, etc) operation because switches on-off a phone and making voice calls (dialling using the keypad) are frequently used together or the most frequent. According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the sequential position or group association of the multiple definite input options changes with the mode of operation. For more flexible operations, categories of input options may be arranged or rearranged in cooperation with the mode of operation. For example, a user may allot Chinese radicals instead of roman alphabets to the buttons when entering a mode of Chinese text entry.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the single manual movement applied to the button extends to a vicinity of the (approached) button. A button may have a plurality of sensors distributed at its corners for movement or position sensing. However, areas surrounding a button installed with sensors may cooperates with each other so that a leaning push or movement to a neighbouring button can also be interpreted as the selection of an input option, which may reduce the number of sensors required for each button as sensors between neighbouring buttons are shared.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the single manual movement applied to the button further extends to a neighbouring button (of the approached button). This is similar to sharing sensors for neighbouring buttons. A neighbouring button with a sensor equipped may take a second signal after the initial contact of the button. Thus, a lateral movement is found and a selection can be made.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, a (first) single manual movement applied to the (first) (input options overlaid) (e.g., alphanumeric notes) button under the mode of operation (on the keyboard) is followed by a second (another) manual movement applied to a second button and (the second manual movement) can select different definite input options (overlaid to the first button). The first manual movement may a finger's gentle touch to a button, which may cause a screen to display the corresponding input options because a sensor on the button has been alerted. This conveniently gives a guide to the user who may follow the indication on the screen to press another button to select. Preferably, the second button pressed is to give spatial positions corresponding to the display. For example, a neighbouring button above the first button relates to the top input option displayed; a neighbouring button on the right hand side relates to the right hand side input option displayed; and a neighbouring button on the lower side relates to the bottom side input option. This is very intuitive and convenient.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, a single manual movement applied to the (first) (input options overlaid) (e.g., alphanumeric notes) button together with a second (third or more) button simultaneously under a mode of operation (on the keyboard) can select different definite input options. This incorporates the concepts of single tap multi entry technique with a possible convenient feature of displaying the input options on a screen a guide. The single tap multi entry technique is hereby optionally incorporated by the reference PCT/SG2006/00032 to its entirety. A button with (a) sensor(s) with the referenced technology provides a user with a simpler process and possibly reduces the effort of learning.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the second button is a navigation button, a rocking button, a rotary dial, a scroll ball, a thumb wheel or a button with a rotary function. In an innate way, a navigation button with indicators/switches at its circumference naturally presents a positional corresponding relationship with a possible screen display so that a user may only need to follow the indicators on the navigation button for selection. In addition, a navigation button which has no definite input option for its own, may avoid potential confusion of which groups of overlaid input options are made for entry.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, an (portable) electronic device for communication comprises a housing, a screen (on the phone preferred) for displaying, an electronic circuit or circuitry for the device's operation, and the keyboard according to any one of the preceding claims. These additional parts make it possible to build a complete handset of the phone so that the appliance becomes useful for a normal user, as well as for manufacturers. The device may include a portable TV, a mini computer (e.g., Apple's Mac mini), a pager, etc which adopts a keypad or keyboard for communicating with the device or other users. According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the (portable electronic) device has a telephony (or facsimile/fax) function, a bi-directional radio transceiver (walkie-talkie) function, a television function, an internet communication function, a network function or other wired/wireless communication functions. Inner- communications between devices and phone network are extremely important to mobile communication. A handphone with some of the listed functions combined expands the capabilities and yet enjoy possible low cost because some of the circuitry can be shared.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the electronic device is also enabled with other data entry techniques under a mode of operation, such as a multi tap single entry technique, a predictive text entry technique, a single tap multi entry technique, a voice text entry technique, a technique of combining any of these, or the like. The multi tap single entry technique is the most common technique for handphones' text entry which allows multiple tapping on a button overlaid with input options to give a definite input (see PCT/SG2006/00032 for details). The single tap multi entry technique is hereby incorporated in its entirety by PCT/SG2006/00032. Some known techniques are possible to be incorporated together with the current technique known as "single tap selective entry technique" and further enhance the capability of a handphone with a small keypad.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, predictive text entry technique is further enabled to reword or rephrase a text by a note selected by the manual activation applied to the button. As the selection among multiple input options overlaid to a button is not limited or dictated by the predictive texting engine (software), there is freedom provided to choose any one of the input options available at will. Thus, a definite input option may be selected to force the predictive texting engine to rephrase a complete or partially completed word so that errors can be reduced and text entry speed may be upgraded.

According to yet a further preferred embodiment, the device has an electronic dictionary function, a translator function, a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) function, a computer function, a Personal Information Manager (Personal Organiser, Personal Digital Assistant) or the like. The currently proposed embodiments or inventive concepts are certainly not limited to handphone alone. Other electronic devices, especially portable types, may use the current technique to expand the input capacity of a small keyboard.

According to another aspect of the present invention, a method for using the mobile or the electronic device is provided accordingly.

Features described in relation to one aspect of the invention may also be applicable to other aspects of the invention.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Known arrangements are described with reference to figure 1 of the accompanying drawing, of which figure 1 is an alphanumeric keypad layout with multiple definite input options overlaid to a single button according to ITU-T Recommendation E.161.

While the specification concludes with claims particularly pointing out, which is regarded as the present invention, the advantages of this invention may be more readily ascertained from following descriptions of the invention when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 2 is an embodiment of a keypad for a mobile phone with sensors equipped for the "single tap selective entry technique";

Figure 3 is an embodiment of architecture for a mobile phone suitable for implementing of the "single tap selective entry" technique;

Figure 4 is a simplified structural diagram of a button employing mechanical finger sensing technology with multiple definite input options overlaid;

Figure 5 is another embodiment of a keypad with sensors equipped for each button and at their vicinities to perceive the presence, pressure or movement of a contacting object;

Figure 6 is an example of a keyboard with circularly distributed buttons wherein two alphabets share a button together with a numeral or others;

Figure 7 is an example of the keypad which is able to analyse the position, pressure or movement of an object on the keypad; Figure 8 is an example of a keyboard at two stages where the keypad examines the actual movement of an object on the buttons or the keypad;

Figure 9 is a schematic illustration for comparing a mechanical keyboard module for finger sensing with a electronic sensor based; and

Figure 10 is an example of a touch sensitive screen with a stylus using its lateral movement for selective data entry with a magnifying glass effect.

Detailed Description of Some Preferred Embodiments

The present inventions will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to accompanying drawings, in which preferred embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein. Rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art.

Referring to figure 1 , a keypad layout according to ITU-T Recommendation E.161 is followed by many manufacturers as a common practice. This known arrangement overlays a button with a plurality of definite input options (e.g., the button with definite input options as 5, J, K, L) thus avoids the situation of one- button one character (e.g., in a 101/102-key computer keyboard). It avoids providing a button for every input option so that less surface area is demanded for implementing a keypad with more input options, which is suitable for portable electronic communication devices (1). j

According to one preferred embodiment, a keypad or keyboard (5) comprises a plurality of alphanumeric notes (numerals & alphabets) based buttons (7), in addition to some other functional buttons (e.g., phone's on/ff, etc.) (13). As shown in figure 2, each of those buttons (7) is overlaid with five (definite) input options (e.g. the button "2-d-e-f-~"). This keyboard (5) serves as an user interface which receives a user's key-press as a manual movement applied to a button (9) or a manual activation to a button (9) to select an input (13) from multiple overlaid definite input options (13, 15, 17, 19). The keyboard (5) converts the key-press to be an electric signal for a circuit of the phone inside a housing and a corresponding display of the input options (25) is given on the screen (3) for guiding the text entry (27).

According to figure 2, each button and the vicinities around each button are installed with sensors (11 , 23) for perceiving a finger's contact. If a resistive type of sensor is employed, a resistance change arises in the sensor (11 , 23) when a finger contacts the button or between buttons. The resistive sensor for the button can have the technology similar to AT4 four-wire resistive touch-screen manufactured by EIo TouchSystems, which is currently in the market.

Therefore, once a user's finger touches the top surface of a button (9) equipped with the resistive sensor, the screen (3) of the phone (1) displays corresponding multiple definite input options available (25) of the pressed button (9) immediately. The image for input options displayed (25) tells a user that an input option is available at each corner of the button (9) for input, such as the dashed square enclosed "8", V1 "w", "x", or "!". In this case, input options of "v", W1 "x", and "!" are distributed at diagonal sites corresponding to the distribution format on the button "8-V-W-X-!" for visualising and guiding the selection. The input option "8" can be optionally omitted for display because numerals (numerical notes) are made to be the default input option for all buttons. A user can choose the default input option (e.g., "8") simply by pressing the button downward directly without leaning or moving towards any side or corner of the button (9) right after the finger's touching the button (9).

If an alphabet (e.g., "w") is desired for entry, the finger thus presses a corner (e.g., the top-right corner) of the button (9) down to activate for selecting the input option upon reaching the button "8-v-w-x-!" (9). In this process, the finger does not have to retreat (withdraw) to resume another movement for selecting any of the input options (e.g., "8", "v", W1 "x", "!"). The selection of a character (e.g., W) is completed within a single manual movement (activation) applied to a button, which is the pressing. Broadly speaking, the finger's entire motion on the button or keyboard includes touching a button and pressing the button a corner/centre. Anyone of the input options of the buttons on the phone (1) can be selected with one key-pressing movement only as a single manual movement. Alternatively, a lateral movement (21) can replace the vertical movement of pressing down the button since there are sensors (23) installed between buttons as shown in figure 2. After a finger touches the button "8-v-w-x-!", the only (continuous) manual movement required is just to move the finger towards a desired corner corresponding to an input option, which follows the direction of the displayed image on the screen (3) as a guide. The lateral movement (21) of a finger is interpreted by the sensor embedded on the central area of the button (9) together with another/other sensor(s) outside the button (9). If sensors are also provided at corners of the button (inside the button) "8-v-w-x-!", it is also possible to pick up this lateral movement (21) on the button (9). However, the number of sensors has to be increased significantly while the complexity is also augmented.

According to the embodiment shown in figure 2, each button overlaid with multiple definite input options (e.g., "8-v-w-x-!", "1-a-b-c-?", etc) is made to be able to rock about a central point in four diagonal directions evenly spaced around the circumference of the button. Depressing the button so as to rock it for activating a corner switch can provide left/right and up/down signals/inputs. This is a known design commonly adopted in navigation keys for handphones, which may also be formed by two parts, a centre part and a circumferential (surrounding rim) part. An addition made to the typical navigation button according to some embodiments is to permit a vertical downward key-press select a default input option, such as numeral input options (e.g., "8"). Figure 4 gives an example for the simplified diagram of the improved navigation button (71), which will be explained later in detail. According to the embodiment shown in figure 2, a user can push the button (9) "8-v-w-x-!" on the top-left corner to give an input note "v" to the phone. It is equally possible that the user forces down the button (9) on top-right corner to select "w" as the input; bears down on the bottom-right corner to opt the input "x" as the input; and depresses the button (9) on the bottom-left corner to pick the input option "!". In the process of entering one letter/character (15, 17, 19), there is a single manual activation (without the finger's withdraw movement) applied to the button (9), which is to press the button (9) at a selected side/corner once only. This embodiment makes use of sensors on the button to automatically trigger the embedded software (e.g., keyboard processing module 63 of Fig. 3) for displaying corresponding input options (25) readily for selection.

The finger or glove sensing of a button can also be optical sensor based, such as those used in CarrollTouch Infrared touch-screen currently in the market. A further alternative can be surface wave technology based using tiny transducers (sensors) for every button's finger/glove sensing, such as those implemented in lntellitouch touchscreens manufactured by EIo touchsystems (tyco electronics). A further more robust alternative is capacitive sensor based buttons, such as those used in Elo's projective capacitive touchscreen (tyco electronics). Various types of sensors adopted also require appropriate electrical circuits and software packages, such as those commonly in use for touchscreen systems. The purpose for using a sensor for a button or between buttons is to replace a potential manual movement by the handphone software or hardware system for faster data entry so that the required manual movements or steps are reduced or possibility removed. The type of sensors (e.g., capacitive, optical, etc) for applications much depends on usage situations, reliability and cost considerations etc so that the choice of the sensor for certain range/category of handphone may be optimised. For an example, capacitive sensor is more suitable for reliable and robust usage while the mechanical structure type (see figure 4) is more suitable for low cost range.

Referring to figure 3, this is a preferred embodiment of the system architecture for the phone shown in figure 2. This handphone has a RAM (29) (Random Access Memory), a (LCD) display (33), auxiliary I/O (input/output) interface (35), a keyboard with a plurality of buttons (37), a speaker (39) for output, a microphone for aural input (41), a serial port (43) (e.g., USB 2.0), some short-range communication peripherals (45) (e.g., Bluetooth, infrared, wireless USB, HomePlug, etc), and other device subsystems (47). These hardware components are connected to a microprocessor (a signal processing circuit) (31) for data processing, control, etc. The handphone (1) of Fig 2 also has a subsystem (51) including DSP (57) which regulates radio wave transmission with LOs (55) between the receiver (59) and the transmitter (53) so that the phone (1) communicates with the service provider's network (49). Software packages, such as voice communication module (67), data communication module (65), keyboard processing module (63) and other software modules (61), are loaded in a flash memory (69) which includes a voice communication module (67), a data communication module (65), a keyboard processing module (63), and some other software modules (61). The keyboard processing module (63) (software) is used to control the keyboard (5) and its sensors (23) for processing received input signals from the keyboard (5) to the circuitry of the phone (1). The present handphone (1) is thus able to communicate with the stations of mobile communication service providers (49) for applications, such as telephoning. The electric circuitry (e.g., a processing circuit, a driving circuit, etc) provides phone essential control operations, which includes a microprocessor (31), a RAM (29), a ROM (Read Only Memory) or flash memory (69) and some embedded software packages (61 , 63, 65, 67) for the phone's operation. The display (e.g., LCD screen) (33) shows outputs, such as alphanumeric notes, other language characters (e.g., ϋ, #, etc), symbols (e.g., ®, £, etc.), icons (e.g., &, φ, etc), and the like.

Figure 4 gives an embodiment for a part of the button (71) using mechanical structures to obtain the signal of finger contacting, termed as mechanical (finger) sensing. In the current example, a mechanical type of structure or sensor based button has a number of electric switches/contacts (75, 77, 79, 81) arranged for switching. This embodiment (71) of the mechanical type of finger sensing as shown in figure 4 is a type of rocking button with an addition. Referring to figure 4, a circular shaped top (73) (a disc) is overlaid with multiple input options "δ-v-w-x-!" (85). It also has a raised rubber edge (93) for catching a contacting finger's pad and gives reliable grip to a finger's activations. Those four definite input options (85) ("v", "w", "x", "!") are distributed evenly around the circumference of the button (71 , 73) on top and the bottom side of the button (71) is affixed with electrically conductive rubber contacts (75) corresponding to each (definite) input option (85). Those contacts (75, 89, 91) are commonly implemented in conventional keypads, such as those used in TV remote controllers, Hi-Fi remote controllers, etc. A shaft (95) clothed by an (upper) cylindrical conductive contact (91) supporting the disc (73). Correspondingly, there is another (lower) tube (sleeve) electrical contact (89) which is detached from the shaft's electrical (cylindrical) contact (91) when the button (71) is idle as contacts (75, 77) detached. There are four contact studs (79) supported by bases (81) and linked to a circuit board, which are designed to receive possible electrical connection (input signal) by meeting a contact (75, 89, 91) on the bottom side of the disc (73). The selection of a definite input option (85) is achieved when a rubber contact (75, 89, 91) of the disc portion (73) of the button (71) comes in contact with a particular contact below (77, 89) which then bridges an electric circuit's connection. The disc (73) in figure 4 is able to reach any one of plausible bottom contact (77, 89) for getting a unique input to the phone device. The centre default input option "8" (83) is chosen when all circumferential contacts (75) meet simultaneously to the lower ones (77). In terms of finger sensing, it is performed by two central contacts' (89, 91) meeting when the disc (73) is pushed down. During the button' idle state, two central contacts (89, 91) are detached. It is clear that this button (71) is able to rock towards a single side for bridging only one pair of contacts (75, 77) (upper and lower for an input option) since the shaft (95) stands on a spherical support (87).

The process of choosing an input option based on this type of mechanical sensing switch (71) or structure starts with the button's downward movement as it is forced down by a finger. Figure 4 shows the stage where the button (71) is already pushed down by a finger. The first movement downwards bridges the upper electrical contact (91) (upper central one) on the shaft (95) and the lower contacts (89) which serves the function of "finger sensing". This is because the finger's thrust is converted to an electrical signal by two contacts' (89, 91) meeting of this mechanical structure and the device (1) then registers or processes this signal. The device (1) may also optionally initiate the display (25) of those multiple input options on the screen (3) (see figure 2) so that a user can visualise the input options available and their respect locations on the button and the selection is made easier. However, the finger triggering is not stopped there, as it is only a part of the single manual activation or movement. On the contrary, the finger continues its downward movement and leans towards a preferred side for choosing an input option. A pivotal support (87) is shown at the bottom end of the button (71) and it permits the button (71) to incline or rock towards a single side.

The above-mentioned "mechanical sensing" of a button (71) has similar structure to a typical navigation or rocking button. A navigation button or a stick is normally known design (see Nokia handphone model 6180; Sony Ericsson handphone model T630; etc), which rocks about a central point in a number of directions evenly spaced around that point. Depressing the button so as to rock it can provide left/right and up/down signals/inputs and also sometimes intermediate diagonal signals. The conventional navigation button is modified in the current embodiment because the present button (71) gives a signal even if all edges' or corners' contacts are joined. The single manual movement for activation is then realised when the finger further force down vertically continuously, or bending over towards a corner or edge of the button (71) for concluding on an input option.

As an alternative to the navigation button (71), a rotary dial or a thumb wheel may replace a navigation button. The replacing rotary dial may incorporate a sensor to perceive a touching thumb and select an input option when rotated at certain angle. For an example, with the button "8-v-w-x-l", turning angles of -60°, -20°, +20°, & +60° corresponds to options as V, "w", "x", "!". The selection of the default option "8" is accomplished by pushing the button towards a side (e.g., from exterior towards interior of the phone and perpendicular to the axis of the wheel). Turning and pushing as a single continuous manual movement normally accomplishes the input option selection process. This type of dial or turning wheel can be found in Sony handycam DCR-TRV10E PAL for manuals or settings selection where the axis of the rotational movement of dial is permitted to be shifted towards a side perpendicular to the axis for choosing an input option.

In figure 2, 4 & 5, there is also a plurality of sensors (23, 103, 109, 113, 119) distributed around each button, in addition to a sensor embedded in each button (not shown). These sensors (23, 103, 109, 113, 119) may alternatively locate at the edges or corners of each button (109). If those sensors (23, 103, 109, 113, 119) are planted at the corner or edge of each button (107), they can have the function of presence sensing, force sensing, movement sensing, or in any of these combinations. If those sensors (23, 103, 109, 113, 119) are located around each button, they are preferably to have the function of presence sensing, movement sensing, or in combination. In construction, such sensors may be resistive, optical (e.g., infrared), capacitive, (electrical or thermal) conductive, etc. Sensors (23, 103, 109, 113, 119) located between neighbouring buttons are advantageous because they make two neighbouring buttons share a common sensor (109, 113, 119). Cost and structural complexity for the keyboard are reduced.

When sensors (23, 103, 109, 113, 119) are spread out as shown in figure 2 or 4, they give signals when a finger moves laterally (21) to an edge or corner of a button where more than one sensor may be triggered. Therefore, a button (117) on the keyboard (101) of the phone (97) with a sensor embedded sends a signal first when a finger touches it. This prompts the display (25, 121) of the multiple input options available for that button on the screen (99). The sensors around the button (103, 109, 113, 119) thus get ready to receive further indication. The manual movement of the finger hence continues towards an edge or corner of the contacted button (117) that corresponds one particular input option of the contacted (activated/triggered) button (117). When a corner/edge sensor (10, 119) is activated later since the finger moves over to it (10, 119), the keyboard processing module (63) (a software package) reads the signal to be the selecting command for a corresponding input option. Consequently, the finger's lateral movement on the button (9, 117) or keypad (5, 101) achieves a quick picking of an input option. Every input options (105, 111 , 115) of a button can be selected by a down-press, corner key-press or a lateral movement, etc.

There are a few alternatives to put on show (25, 121) the (multiple definite) input options associated with an activated button (9, 117). The first option is to present those input options on a screen (3, 99) of the phone (1, 97) directly, which is shown in figure 2 & 5. The second option is to scroll or highlight those input options on a screen (3, 99), or in combination with the normal display (25, 121). In other words, those input options of the button (9, 117) take turns to be displayed, illuminated or highlighted (e.g., flashing) for selection. Once a finger releases the contacted button, the scrolling process stops and the latest highlighted input option becomes the chosen one for entry. The scrolling process can be manual, automatic or semiautomatic. If input options scroll when a finger is turning a wheel or scroll ball, it is a manual scrolling process. On the other hand, the automatic scrolling process operates when the finger's presence only makes the screen display the input options (e.g., by gentle contacting without pressing down), and the scrolling process is initiated immediately without further manual action and regulated by the software package embedded (63). The desired input is selected from those scrolling multiple definite input options when the finger leaves the button or further presses the button down. The part or entire scrolling process may be displayed on the screen (3, 99), on the button (9, 117), or in combination. The display of scrolling further helps a user to visualise the options available and make the text entry process more intuitive.

Multiple input options (13, 15, 17, 19, 105, 111 , 115) that are overlaid on a single button take many forms. Similar to the conventional form which is depicted in figure 1 & 2 where alphabets (alphabetic notes or characters) (19) and numerals (7) share some of the buttons (9, 117) under the mode of SMS or e-mail for typing messages (27, 123), other types of input options (13, 15, 17, 111 , 115) can also be implemented. For an example, forty-eight Japanese alphabets may be distributed over some buttons on the keypad (5, 101) under the language mode of Japanese text entry. This also applies to Chinese, Greek, Russian, or other characters and their related data entry formats or standards. The concept of input options sharing on buttons is equally applicable to other languages, symbols, mathematic operators, etc.

Different types of characters may be organised into certain sequential positions onto buttons of a keypad. In the preferred embodiment given in figure 2, punctuation marks (15) are allocated at the fourth (according to clockwise direction) positions/comers of those buttons. Following the same logic, certain types or categories of characters may be assigned to specific sequential positions so that a user can get into a pattern of input option selection in an orderly manner and further expedite data entry. In another preferred embodiment, mathematic operators or symbols (17, 111) can be grouped together with numerical notes (numerals) under a mode of calculation. This makes the mobile phone with such a keypad as a calculator effectively. In the same manner, the typing speed of such "calculator" may be greatly enhanced because a user can familiar with the arrangement easier.

If a mode of operation changes, the type of (multiple definite) input options should follow. This means that a set of numerical notes (numerals) together with mathematical operators under the mode of calculation may be replaced by another group of alphabets if the mode shifts from "calculator" to text entry (e.g., SMS or e- mail). Equally, a set of radials (fundamental components) for Chinese characters (e.g., ~*, V1 /f f etc) should be overlaid onto the buttons as multiple input options if the mode is shifted to Chinese text entry. This is also true for the entry method alteration within a single language but different entry standards, such as a Chinese character (e.g., #) using four corner technique.

A functional operation for the mobile phone device is a type of input option (13) too and it can be overlaid together with other input options together (see figure 2 & 5). For example, the phone's mode switch function (e.g., radio->MP3 player) may be overlaid at the fourth position of a button together with others. This thus facilitates a user to change operation mode or perform a function (e.g., alter the volume of the loud speaker, shift to read an incoming message while typing the current one, etc) within a single touch. Other functional operations include a phone's on/off, speaker's volume adjustment, brightness regulation for the screen, etc.

As one preferred embodiment for the keypad (5, 101), a capacitive sensor is able to perceive the presence of an object (e.g., a finger, a glove, etc) because capacitance changes at the sensor when an external object moves close to it. The variation of the capacitance is then interpreted by an electronic circuit of the keyboard processing module (63) and an electronic circuit. For an optical sensor (e.g., infrared based), the light transmission affected by an object in its path is read to be the presence of a finger pressing. An inductive sensor simply associates a coil's change in inductance with an external object's presence (e.g., a finger, a pen, etc.) to trigger the phone's operation. An electric conductive sensor detects the conductivity alteration on the button touched (e.g., on/off or connected/disconnected) and makes such status interpreted by the circuit (not shown) as having/not having a finger's depression. A thermal conductive type of sensor (e.g., K-type thermocouple wires) detects the change of temperature on the button when touched by a finger. The temperature variation (e.g., increase by 2~5°C or above) indicates a touching of a finger. The circuit for processing sensor's signals may be part of the keyboard or integrated into the circuitry of the phone although some basic wire may be required by the sensor-equipped keyboard.

A preferred embodiment adopts force differentiation technique to improve the input option selection process with small buttons on a phone. Force differentiation technique equips force/pressure sensors to a keypad for registering (recording) and comparing the force/pressure readings of multiple sensors on a keypad so that the intended corner or edge of a button for input option selection can be determined. In a typical keyboard for a mobile phone, buttons are small which often results more than one edge or corner of the button or even multiple buttons are forced down. This can bridge a plurality of electrical contacts of the button for corresponding input options. When force sensors takes the recordings for each respective triggered/contacted corner/edge where input options are indicated correspondingly, those force readings are processed by the keypad processing software module (63) and the sensor with the highest force/pressure reading is considered to be the selected for its corresponding input option. Therefore, the potential uncertainty is avoided when several neighbouring buttons are pressed together by a finger. This also avoids a potential confusion where a button with multiple definite input options is totally held down at corner/edge of the button but the aimed edge/corner has the highest force/pressure reading.

Pressure differentiation technique may disregard some signals of certain gentle contact or more than two button's contact. For an example, the finger's soft contact to a button (e.g., the button "5-m-n-o-(") in the process from one button (e.g., the button "2-d-e-f-~") to another (the button "8-v-w-x-!") is disregarded when the pressing force to the button "5-m-n-o-(" is below a threshold (e.g., <12gf). This further helps to produce a reliable and intelligent keyboard (see figure 7). Furthermore, if more than two buttons are contacted or pressed at the same time, the keyboard processing module (63) may disregard some input signals because it can be accidental key-presses.

If a touch screen is used, the force differentiation type of technology can be implemented as well, which makes the input options selection to be scaled dependant on a value of the pressure registered by the touch screen at different sites/positions/locations under an operation mode, such as on a displayed button. The process starts with the display of input options available to the button initially being touched (e.g., <10~20gf) (e.g., a gentle contact of the button on the touch sensitive screen). Afterwards, the contacting finger exerts heavier load (e.g., >50gf) towards a corner or edge corresponding input option for selection. A potential confusion is avoided because the handphone only makes the selection of the input option where the button or corner/edge experiences the highest pressure or force. This is particularly useful when a finger is substantially larger than a displayed button where the finger inevitably presses neighbouring buttons simultaneously. The force or pressure differentiation technology is made known by WO 2006 / 013 485 A2 and it helps to determine the targeted button which often experiences the highest pressure.

Position differentiation technique equips a handphone keypad (5, 101 , 131 , 145) to distinguish the object's contact position, which can also be adopted for a touch sensitive screen (199). According to this technique, an object's location on the keypad (5, 101 , 131 , 145) or button (7, 153, 157, 165, 171) is determined by a position sensor corresponding to the button (7, 153, 157, 165, 171). If a plurality of buttons are activated/contacted, the keyboard processing module (63) analyses the most probable intended position for selection. For example, lines between multiple activated sensors can form a polygon which gives a coverage area of the keyboard. The button corresponding to the geographical centre of the polygon (or the centre point of a line linking two activated sensors) can be interpreted to be the primary selection (button or corner of a button). This technique further helps the phone to decide the intended position of a pressing finger when multiple buttons are covered or pressed, which often happens. This is because a finger's pad may cover neighbouring buttons of the targeted button since buttons for a handphone are normally smaller than the pad of a finger.

Movement differentiation technique builds on the position differentiation technique for detecting a finger's lateral or vertical movement on a button or keyboard. This is useful when a finger's lateral movement on a keyboard or button is to be interpreted for the selection of input options. The movement detection can be achieved via sequential readings from multiple positions determined by the positions of the sensors, and sensors may be capacitive, optical or heat/temperature sensitive in nature. The keyboard processing module (63) is thus made to give a first position of a contacting object followed by a second position. If necessary, those readings from sensors (11 , 23, etc) for a contacting object are taken for a period of time (e.g., 0.02~0.2sec.) so that the sequential readings from sensors (11 , 23, etc) at various places can be interpreted by the keyboard processing module (63) to be the movement of the object, either on a button (7, 107, etc) or across a plurality of buttons (7, 107, etc). If a lateral movement direct towards a corner (21) or a diagonal neighbouring button (173), the corresponding corner's or edge's input option is then selected for input. Similarly, a movement towards an edge can be understood to be deciding on that corresponding input option.

If each button is equipped or configured with only one sensor for getting the presence information of a finger and no other sensors are installed in the areas between neighbouring buttons, it is difficult to detect an object's lateral movement on a button because the finger has to move to at least one neighbouring button to tell the device for finger's lateral movement, which tends to be a quite large movement. However, if there are a few sensors are mounted on each button or there is also a sensor set at each edge or corner of the button overlaid with multiple input options, a lateral movement of a finger is able to be detected readily when two sensor get a signal in a sequential manner within a short range, which is then translated to be the lateral movement on the button or keypad from one point (1st activated sensor) to another (2nd activated sensor). For example, sensors can be installed on nodes of a grid on a keypad where the distance between neighbouring nodes can be determined by the level of accuracy required for detection, the higher accuracy, the denser grid lines/nodes is necessary. In principle, several sensors on a button can pick up the lateral movement on a button. On the other hand, sensors embedded on neighbouring buttons facilitate the sensing of lateral movement across multiple buttons with larger distance.

There are techniques to reduce the number of sensors used. According to figure 2 & 5, each of the buttons overlaid with multiple input options is fixed with only one sensor for recognising the existence of a contacting finger (not shown). There are additional sensors (11 , 119, etc) surrounding each button (7, 107). This scheme requires less number of sensors (103) compared to have each button installed with four sensors at its corners. If there is a lateral movement (21 , 173) on the keypad (5, 101) of figure 2 or 5, the primary contact of a finger is firstly achieved by the sensor on that button, in addition to other possible sensors surrounding the button. The secondary sensor(s) which cooperate(s) can either be the sensor of a neighbouring button or a sensor (10, 119) at the button's vicinity. Alternatively, if there is no neighbouring button at a direction (e.g., button "4-j-k-l-{" at the left-side edge), the sensor located at the outer edge of the keypad can give the secondary signal too.

When a phone is also equipped with predictive text entry methodology, it is further be enhanced with the present keypad with a single manual movement or activation for selecting an (definite) input option. One of the problems with predictive text entry is that many words are possible for a set of sequential keypress, especially at the beginning alphabets of a word where huge quantities of choices are viable. For example, a user presses the button "8-t-u-v" in a conventional keyboard (see figure 1), "t", "u", or "v" are equal possible options for forming large number of words. If it is followed by a second button "6-m-n-o", the possible combination becomes "to", "urn", "vo", "un", etc. However, if the keypad with the presently proposed technology implemented, a user may just start with a definite alphabet "v" which eliminates a lot of possible wrong guessing by the predictive text entry technique. For another example, a user press the button following the sequence of 722435 in a conventional keypad (see figure 1), he/she may select the alphabet "c" instead of "b" for the third alphabet so that there will be no confusion between the output of "Rachel" and "rabid". The definite input given by the user with "single tap selective entry technique" may dictate and overwrite the potential input given by the predictive texting (text), which avoids a lot of possible confusions. When a particular alphabet is chosen, a disambiguation engine of the predictive text entry technique can further be modified to rephrase the entire word to suit the newly confirmed alphabet. Therefore, the currently proposed technology may further incorporate and enhance some useful text entry technologies. For example, the predictive text entry may just follow buttons' default down-press while an overriding input given by the "single tap selective entry technique' may be achieved by a leaning press at a corner of a button.

The examples given are possible to be employed in many types of keyboard, such as dome-switch keyboard, capacitive keyboard, mechanical-switch keyboard, buckling-spring keyboard, hall-effect keyboard, membrane keyboard, roll-up keyboard, or other parts of PC/mobile phone keyboard.

Figure 6 presents a preferred embodiment of the keyboard (131). This keyboard (131) in a handphone (125) has a plurality of alphanumeric keys (135, 137) in addition to four functional buttons (129). In the (centre) middle of the keyboard (131), there is a navigation button (141) moving a cursor with indefinite input options (e.g., moving the pointer up, down, left, right, etc). Each alphanumeric button (135, 137) is mounted with a sensor (not shown) for perceiving the contact of a finger. Besides, there are two sensors (133, 139) fixed at left/right sides of each alphanumeric button for discerning a movement of the gliding finger. The buttons (135, 137) are distributed in such a circular manner so that only two alphabets are shared on each of the alphanumeric key (135, 137, etc), which makes it easier for operation.

Similar to other embodiments, the handphone (125) starts with the contact of a finger on an alphanumeric button (133) (button "G-4-H") during an SMS mode. Input options can be blinked on the button (e.g., by the LED lighted button), on the screen (127), or none. This is because each alphanumeric button (135, 137, etc) has an embedded sensor (not shown) for getting the information of a finger's tap. An alternative will be adopting the (mechanical) sensing structure for the button given in figure 4. When both the right and left input options (e.g., "G", "H") of the button is twinkling on the screen (not shown), a finger moves to the right hand side signifies a sensor (133) of the phone for selecting the input "H" from input options of "G" and "H". A lateral movement of an object on the button is thus transformed to the selection for the input to the phone.

Alternatively, the sensor (133) besides the alphanumeric button "G-4-H" can be force or pressure sensor so that a side push to the button presents force/pressure on the sensor (133) which denotes the selection of an input option. If the sensor embedded on the button (not shown) is a force/pressure sensitive type, the button "G-4-H" will be equally able to give input "4" when the pressures or forces readings on three sensors (left, centre & right sensors) are similar (within a narrow range, e.g., <80gf) in readings.

Multiple presence sensors around a button help to identify the position or movement of a contacting object on the keyboard or button so that a lateral movement of the finger can be interpreted to be selecting an input option for input. Figure 7 further presents an embodiment of the keypad (145) for this purpose wherein presence (position) sensors (155, 159, 161 , etc) locate between neighbouring buttons (153, 157). Besides, there is still a presence sensor (e.g., capacitive type) implanted in each of the buttons (147, 153, 157, etc). Multiple input options (149) locate at diagonal comers and centres of the buttons (153, etc). During an operation, such as in the e-mail mode, a user's finger firstly approaches the button "8-v-w-x-!" (157) which prompts the display of corresponding input options on the phone's screen. In this instance, three sensors (155, 159, 161) are activated because the button (157) is rather smaller than the contacting finger's pad. Following the displaying on the phone's screen, the finger then glides to the top-right corner connoting (indicating) "w". However, since the finger's pad is relatively larger than a button, the sensor (not shown) of the right hand side button "9-y-z-_-"" is activated together with the top right corner sensor (161). This finger's movement also deactivates other two previously activated sensors (155, 159). The keyboard processing module (63) of the phone thus examines the sequences of sensors' switching and resolves the ambiguity for the exactly selected input option "w" by this lateral movement or leaning pushed position of this contact. This scheme also applies to a phone with four sensors installed at four sides (edges) of each button.

Figure 8 presents the process of a finger's lateral movement for selecting an input option from stage (a) (the top-left image) to (b) (the bottom-right image). At stage (a) where a finger touches the button "8-v-w-x-!" (165), the corresponding definite input options are displayed on a screen of the phone (163) because the sensor (not shown) embedded in the button "8-v-w-x-!" is activated. However, the bottom right corner's sensor (167) is also activated since the finger pad larger than the button also covers this corner. In the presented message where the next input "w" is necessary to complete the sentence, the finger then shifts (173) laterally towards the top right direction and touches another button "6-p-q-r-," (171). The keyboard processing module (63) in the phone (163) thus analyse the first position on the button "8-v-w-x-!" and then the second position on the button "6-p-q-r-,", the interpretation becomes that the corner definite input option "w" is chosen for input to the device (163). In this manner, a lateral movement (173) across to a neighbouring button gives a definite input option to the phone device. One of the benefits of this scheme is that the sensors embedded in neighbouring buttons may also cooperate with each other to reduce the total number of sensors otherwise required.

Typically, multiple definite input options are clearly printed or inscribed on the buttons of a handphone. This is to provide a user with information for a button beforehand. Since some embodiments provide corresponding multiple definite input options display on the screen when a finger touches the button, those (multiple definite) input options can be highlighted (e.g., made in bold fonts, blinking, changing colour, etc) sequentially in a continuous manner following a short cycle (e.g., 0.5~2 sec per cycle). The user thus has another option as detaching (leaving contact) the button at an appropriate time for selecting the highlighted input option. This is termed as the scrolling process, which may be allowed on the LED lighted button too.

Figure 9 gives an example where vertical distance of a button (71) equipped with sensors can be reduced. Ha represents the height of a mechanical type of sensing structure of a button with multiple definite input options at an idle state. It can be observed that the cylindrical (shaft) contact (91) on a shaft is detached from the sleeve contact (89). Therefore, no electrical signal can be sent at this state. When a finger presses down the button leaning towards the right hand side (177), the disc (73) together with the shaft comes down and bridges the electrical contacts (89, 91) between the cylindrical (91) and sleeve contact (89). The input options may be displayed on the screen accordingly. The finger then continues to push down biased (177) in the direction of right hand side which results the connection between the top contact of the disc (75S) and the bottom pillar's (77S). A selection of that corner designated definite input option is thus made. After the finger's release, the disc/shaft part (73) bounces back to the original idle state and waits for next possible key-press. In fact, there may be four definite input options available (only two visible in figure 9) and an inclined thrust (177) as a single manual movement applied to the button makes the selection of input options complete.

Figure 9 also gives vertical distance Hb of an electrical (e.g., capacitive, conductive, etc) sensor (181) based button (183) according to an embodiment. Specially, corner/edge sensors/contacts (187, 190) are force differentiation enabled force/pressure sensors (187, 190). In other words, sensors (187, 190) around the circumference of the key disc (179) are able to take the pressing force readings for the keyboard processing module (63) to examine. If the key-press is biased (189) towards the right hand side as figure 9 shows, the keyboard processing module (63) will compare the readings of four corner force/pressure sensors and gives an indication that the sensor (190) at the biased position gives highest force reading value. Consequently, the corresponding input option is selected. If four sensors (only two are shown, excluding the centre one (181) on the disc portion (179) of the button) give relatively equal readings (e.g., <50 or 150gf), the default input option for the centre of the button will be made the choice of this key-press. Since four corner sensor/switches are constantly made connected/contacted, there is no need for the large movement of the disc (179), except a slight resilient key-press feeling offered by a spring (185). The benefit can be readily observed from figure 9 that the height (Hb<Ha) of a button assembly equipped with a sensor (187, 190) is possible to be reduced.

Touch (sensitive) screen technology is currently mature in the market and it helps to expand the display area on a device without the need of a dedicated physical keypad since a physical keypad (keyboard) is incorporated to be a part of the screen. Once a touch screen is employed to replace a physical keyboard, a scriber or stylus may replace a finger to provide the initial touch to the button displayed on the screen. Figure 10 further gives a preferred embodiment which utilise touch sensitive screen (199) for a portable electronic device for communication using a microphone (191) and a loud speaker (195), such as mobile phone or a mini (portable) computer. On the screen, buttons (197) with (multiple definite) input options are displayed at the bottom of the screen (199), among others (not shown). The screen (199) simulated (displayed) keypad is enabled with "magnifying glass effect" for input options exhibition. This means that the button contacted by the tip of the stylus (193) is expanded with enlarged font and associated input options. The magnifying effect follows the touching point of the stylus on the screen (199). Similarly, the after the contacting of the stylus (193) on a button with input options overlaid, the button expands accompanied by showing input options (203). This prompts the user with choices available for (data or character) entry. A lateral movement (194) of the stylus thus is performed by shifting towards a corner with input option desired. In the example given, the crown (head) of the stylus slides towards top-left corner to obtain the input "y". Since there is no need to put on view the complete keyboard, only little portion of the screen (199) is needed to display a simple alphanumeric keyboard (e.g., 12 buttons). The benefit of fast entry is still possible and a lateral movement receives little resistance because the screen is flat and smooth.

Another concept as the single tap multi entry technique is made known by PCT/SG2006/00032 and is hereby incorporated in its entirety. Basically, the single tap multi entry technique allows a user to tap two or multiple buttons simultaneously to select an input from multiple input options shared on a button. For an example, an alphanumeric notes overlaid button (e.g., button 8-t-u-v) can be pressed simultaneously together with a navigation button for presenting an input to the phone. In this case, indicators (<=, ■=>, ft, ^) distributed around the corners of the navigation button associate with the input options (8-t-u-v) of the characters overlaid button for input choice (e.g., K=1, u-H, v-"=>).

Claims

Claims
1. A keyboard for a mobile phone comprising: a plurality of buttons for giving inputs to the mobile phone; at least one of the buttons is overlaid with multiple definite input options exclusively under a mode of operation; wherein the keyboard has a sensor or sensing structure for sensing an object's presence on the button or keyboard by its position, contact, movement, force, pressure or heat.
2. The keyboard according to claim 1 , wherein the sensor or sensing structure initiates a display of the input options on a screen, the button, another suitable place or in combination of any of these for guiding when it senses the object's presence by its position, contact, movement, force, pressure, or heat on the button or keyboard.
3. The keyboard according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the sensor or sensing structure initiates vocalisation of the input options via a speaker when it senses the object's presence on the button or keyboard by its contact, movement, force, pressure or heat.
4. The keyboard according to claim 1 , wherein a single manual movement applied to the button or keyboard under the mode of operation can select different definite input options at will.
5. The keyboard according to claim 1, 2 or 3, wherein the sensing structure is formed by a multi-switch button for the single manual movement applied to the button or the keyboard under the mode of operation to select different definite input options at will, such as a navigation button or a rocking button.
6. The keyboard according to claim 1 , 2, 3 or 5, wherein the sensor or sensing structure is capacitive, optical, inductive, electrically or thermally conductive, mechanical or in combination of any of these.
7. The keyboard according to claim 1 , 2, 3, 5 or 6, wherein the sensor or sensing structure is force-differential, position-differential, movement- differential, orientation-differential or in combination of any of these.
8. The keyboard according to claim 1 , 2, 3, 5, 6 or 7, wherein the sensor or sensing structure is installed on the button, between neighbouring buttons, or in combination of both.
9. The keyboard according to claim 1 , 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 or 8, wherein the sensor or sensing structure is overlaid with the keyboard in a form of soft or hard sheet.
10. The keyboard according to claim 4, wherein the single manual movement applied to the button is a vertical movement, a lateral movement or a combination of the lateral and vertical movement.
11. The keyboard according to claim 1 , wherein the plurality of buttons for giving inputs are distributed in a circular pattern, an oval pattern, a pentagon pattern, a hexagon pattern, at left and right bottom corners or other symmetrical patterns.
12. The keyboard according to claim 1 or 11 , wherein the button has a feature to aid a finger's pushing to it, such as a portion of roughened surface, a portion of raised edge, a recess in a central area, a rubber surface or a combination of any of these features.
13. The keyboard according to any one of the claims 1 to 11 , wherein the button is formed by a touch screen.
14. The keyboard according to any one of the claims 1 to 12, wherein the button is a rocking button, a rotary dial, a scroll ball, a thumb wheel or a button with a rotary function.
15. The keyboard according to claim 1 , wherein the multiple definite input options scroll manually or automatically.
16. The keyboard according to claim 15, wherein a process of scrolling is visible, highlighted, displayed, vocalised or in combination of any of these.
17. The keyboard according to claim 1 or 15, wherein an definite input option is an operational function, a mode of operation, an alphabet, a numeral, a symbol, a punctuation mark, a mathematical operator, a language character, a part of the language character such as a radical of Chinese characters, a currency symbol, an icon, a short-cut or a character of other categories.
18. The keyboard according to claim 17, wherein the category of the multiple definite input options of the button changes with the mode of operation.
19. The keyboard according to claim 17 or 18, wherein a category of the multiple definite input options is overlaid on the buttons at an assigned sequential position.
20. The keyboard according to any one of the claims 17 to 19, wherein a category of the multiple definite input options is overlaid together with another category in the same mode of operation as a group association.
21. The keyboard according to claim 19 or 20, wherein the sequential position or group association of the multiple definite input options follows the mode of operation.
22. The keyboard according to claim 4 or 10, wherein the single manual movement applied to the button extends to a vicinity of the button, a neighbouring button or in combination of both.
23. The keyboard according to claim 4, 10 or 22, wherein a single manual movement applied to the button under the mode of operation is followed by another manual movement applied to a second button and can select different definite input options for the mobile phone.
24. The keyboard according to any one of the preceding claims except claim 23, wherein a single manual movement applied to the button together with a second button simultaneously under a mode of operation can select different definite input options.
25. The keypad according to claim 23 or 24, wherein the second button is a navigation button, a rocking button, a rotary dial, a scroll ball, a thumb wheel or a button with a rotary function.
26. An electronic device for communication comprising: a housing, a screen for displaying, an electronic circuit or circuitry for operating the device, and the keyboard according to any one of the preceding claims.
27. The electronic device according to claim 26, wherein the electronic device has a telephony function, a bi-directional radio transceiver function, a television function, an internet communication function, a network function or other wired/wireless communication functions.
28. The electronic device according to claim 26 or 27, wherein the electronic device is also enabled with other data entry techniques under a mode of operation, such as a multi tap single entry technique, a predictive text entry technique, a single tap multi entry technique, a voice text entry technique or a combination of any of these.
29. The electronic device according to claim 28, wherein the predictive text entry technique is further enabled to reword or rephrase a text by a note selected by the single manual activation applied to the button.
30. The electronic device according to any one of the claims 26 to 29, wherein the device has an electronic dictionary function, a translator function, a PDA function, a personal information manager function or a computer function.
PCT/SG2006/000103 2006-04-22 2006-04-22 A keyboard for a mobile phone or other portable communication devices WO2007084078A1 (en)

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EP2042971A3 (en) * 2007-08-28 2010-02-17 LG Electronics Inc. Mobile terminal
EP2203926A1 (en) * 2007-10-16 2010-07-07 BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte GmbH Home device controller
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EP3190482A1 (en) * 2007-12-27 2017-07-12 HTC Corporation Electronic device, character input module and method for selecting characters thereof
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EP2079005A2 (en) 2007-12-27 2009-07-15 High Tech Computer, Corp. Electronic device, character input module and method for selecting characters thereof
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US8865468B2 (en) 2009-10-19 2014-10-21 Aurora Algae, Inc. Homologous recombination in an algal nuclear genome
US8886222B1 (en) 2009-10-28 2014-11-11 Digimarc Corporation Intuitive computing methods and systems
US8977293B2 (en) 2009-10-28 2015-03-10 Digimarc Corporation Intuitive computing methods and systems
US9444924B2 (en) 2009-10-28 2016-09-13 Digimarc Corporation Intuitive computing methods and systems
WO2011068746A1 (en) * 2009-12-01 2011-06-09 Eastman Kodak Company Image capturing device and operation device
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US9021378B2 (en) * 2010-07-28 2015-04-28 Lg Electronics Inc. Mobile terminal and method for controlling virtual key pad thereof
US20120030604A1 (en) * 2010-07-28 2012-02-02 Kanghee Kim Mobile terminal and method for controlling virtual key pad thereof
US8722359B2 (en) 2011-01-21 2014-05-13 Aurora Algae, Inc. Genes for enhanced lipid metabolism for accumulation of lipids
US8785610B2 (en) 2011-04-28 2014-07-22 Aurora Algae, Inc. Algal desaturases
US8809046B2 (en) 2011-04-28 2014-08-19 Aurora Algae, Inc. Algal elongases
US9217675B2 (en) 2012-10-23 2015-12-22 Apple Inc. Electronic devices with temperature sensors
US10012550B2 (en) 2012-10-23 2018-07-03 Apple Inc. Electronic devices with temperature sensors
US9298275B2 (en) 2013-02-04 2016-03-29 Blackberry Limited Hybrid keyboard for mobile device
US9772691B2 (en) 2013-02-04 2017-09-26 Blackberry Limited Hybrid keyboard for mobile device
EP2763382A1 (en) * 2013-02-04 2014-08-06 BlackBerry Limited Hybrid Keyboard For Mobile Device
US20140218297A1 (en) * 2013-02-04 2014-08-07 Research In Motion Limited Hybrid keyboard for mobile device
US9354778B2 (en) 2013-12-06 2016-05-31 Digimarc Corporation Smartphone-based methods and systems
US9477653B2 (en) * 2014-06-26 2016-10-25 Blackberry Limited Character entry for an electronic device using a position sensing keyboard
US20150378982A1 (en) * 2014-06-26 2015-12-31 Blackberry Limited Character entry for an electronic device using a position sensing keyboard
KR101659691B1 (en) * 2015-06-24 2016-09-30 숭실대학교산학협력단 Method for inputting english/number/symbol characters using 1-line or 2-line software keypad of one column or two column

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