key labels change under software control



#8

I couldn't figure out any way to add this as a response to a post back on April 9th after I finally found it, so it'll have to look like a new thread. (It's not.)

Someone had commented that it would be nice if the software could change the keys' labels on the fly. I said there were key switches with tiny LCDs built in, but could not find a website for the manufacturer I remembered making them many years ago (IEE). Well, Electronics Products, one of the industrial magazines I get, had a little article about them last month, written by someone at NKK Switches, touting their own of course. You can see them at www.nkksmartswitch.com You get a 36x24-pixel monochrome LCD with multi-colored back lighting, all software-controlled. You could even put motion pictures on there. The swiches are bigger than calculator keys, with the LCD viewing area of 10x15mm (.4x.6").


#9

I once had a HP patent about "electronically alterable key labels" or something similar. It necesarry, I can find it again (Drop me a mail) It's not what you want, but it proves HP was way ahead of its time (back in the 80s, when the patent was issued)

Klaus


#10

I once had a HP patent about "electronically alterable key labels" or something similar. It necesarry, I can find it again (Drop me a mail) It's not what you want, but it proves HP was way ahead of its time (back in the 80s, when the patent was issued)

I guess that it also proves they were ahead of their time when it came to abusing the patent system by patenting the painfully obvious. Sheesh, I was designing a computer of my own back in 1977, and I wanted keys with built-in LCDs (those Commodore-era graphical characters, you know :-) ).

- Thomas


#11

If you really want a crazy patent from HP, I seem to recall one being granted to them for calculators having tactile response keyboards sometime in the late 70s or very early 80s.


#12

I know the patent you mention, and it says something like "
Usually you take the overhead of registering the keystroke and then give some feedback to the user, but we have built keys that do this by themselves".
I thought this was something new, that keys, besides making contact, provide feedback.

But making a patent out of this may indeed be exagerrated...

#13

Patent Number 4,078,257: Calculator apparatus with electronically alterable key symbols.

Filed, August 23, 1976.

Issued, March 7, 1978.

A calculator system having a transparent keyboard includes an apparatus for electronically labeling the keyboard by displaying alphanumeric symbols through the keyboard. The apparatus comprises a keyboard selection device and a liquid crystal keyboard display device having a predetermined number of display planes each containing preselected symbols. The keyboard selection device operates both as a selection device and as an annunciator-feedback device, for selecting the symbols or legends of a given plane to label or configure the keyboard, and for feeding back to a user of the system the status of the selection device when it is activated. An alternative embodiment of the invention utilizes light-emitting diodes (LED's) for labeling the keyboard.

#14

They look great, although they are too large for a calculator. I'm afraid to ask how much they cost. I've seen similar switches in aircraft instrument panels.


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