News Column

Researchers Submit Patent Application, "Ergonomic Rearward Keyboard", for Approval

August 7, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- From Washington, D.C., VerticalNews journalists report that a patent application by the inventor Kwok, Sze Wai (Hong Kong, HK), filed on January 28, 2014, was made available online on July 24, 2014.

No assignee for this patent application has been made.

News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The modern-day computer keyboards were adapted from the typewriters, which were in existence from as early as the eighteen-hundreds. The most common keyboard layout is the QWERTY keyboard layout. The name comes from the first six letters appearing in the top left row of keys on the keyboard, reading from left to right: Q-W-E-R-T-Y. The QWERTY keyboard layout enables a system of rapid typing. With some degree of training, a user can type without looking at the keys. There are alternative keyboard layouts to the QWERTY keyboard layout, such as the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard. Various keyboard layout adaptations have also been made for non-Latin based languages. Nonetheless, all these keyboard layouts are designed with the same purpose of allowing typing fast and intuitive without the need of visual guidance.

"Throughout the years, improvements have been made to the classical keyboard layouts. For example, horizontal tilting with the rows of keys being gradually higher away from the user was introduced with the intention of avoiding the unnatural angling of the hands. Other ergonomic designs include dividing the keys into two partial fields, wherein the rows of keys are parallel to each other in each partial field and the two partial fields are pivoted about a vertical axis such that they are arranged at an angle with regard to each other so that they form a wedge-like shape pointing toward the user. Another design raises the height in between the two aforementioned partial fields causing the two partial fields to tilt outward from the center of the keyboard. The goal is to allow a more natural positioning of the hands and fingers during typing, in turn lessen strain and fatigue of its user.

"All of these improvements rest on the premises of that the keyboard is placed before the user and in front of the foot of the display monitor. This fundamental design works well in desktop and laptop computers. However, with the emergence of tablet computers and other mobile computing form factors, the keyboard has become unnecessary and in some cases an impediment to the mobility of these devices. For instance, since the effective operation of the keyboard requires keystrokes made by fingers in both hands, the keyboard must be placed on a surface or secured hands-free. This works in contradiction to the usage of tablet computers and mobile computing devices that they are often being single-handedly held while the users are roaming around.

"However, for substantial amount of textual-type input, such as in the case of composing a long message, the keyboard is still the preferred mechanism. Therefore, there exists an unmet need for a keyboard for tablet computers and mobile computing devices that will not inhibits the mobility of such devices."

As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "It is an objective of the presently claimed invention to provide an ergonomic keyboard for tablet computers and mobile computing devices that allows the user to type with both hands naturally while holding the devices at the same time; and optionally to be laid before the user and in front of the devices, resembling the keyboard-screen arrangement of an opened laptop computer.

"In accordance to a first embodiment of the presently claimed invention, a rearward-facing keyboard is attached on or built-in to the back of a tablet computer or mobile computing device. The front of the tablet computer or mobile computing device is the display screen. The keyboard is attached on to the back of the tablet computer or mobile computing device in a way that the back of the keyboard is facing and parallel to the back of the tablet computer or mobile computing device while the keys are facing rearward away from the user as the user is holding and facing the display screen of the tablet computer or mobile computing device.

"Besides being used with a tablet computer, the rearward-facing keyboard can be incorporated in other system peripherals, for example an electronic writing pad or touch pad, a remote controller for a video/audio system or a gaming console. The rearward-facing keyboard can also be a separate standalone system peripheral.

"When the user holds the tablet computer or mobile computing device with both hands at the bottom or side edges of the tablet computer or mobile computing device, his/her fingers are free to press the rearward-facing keys of the attached keyboard. The keyboard layout of the rearward-facing keyboard is such that the keys are divided into two partial fields. One partial field contains the keys for the left-hand fingers and the other partial field contains the keys for the right-hand fingers. Then the key arrangements within their respective partial fields is such that the keys are placed in mirror-opposite of the positions that would have been in a front-facing keyboard that is laid before the user. This rearward-facing key orientation allows the user to use the same rapid typing system, such as that of the QWERTY keyboard layout, on the rearward-facing keyboard as he/she would on a traditional front-facing keyboard.

"The rearward-facing keyboard can be flipped, being hinge-connected to one edge of the tablet computer or mobile computing device, from the back of the tablet computer or mobile computing device to the front of and proximately perpendicular to the tablet computer or mobile computing device, resembling a laptop computer. In this position, the keyboard is laid before the user. Each of the two partial fields of keys can then rotate outward about a vertical axis such that keys in their new positions correspond approximately to those of a traditional keyboard. The rearward-facing keyboard can also be flipped to a fully closed position covering the front of the tablet computer or mobile computing device, thus acting as a protective cover for the tablet computer or mobile computing device.

"In accordance to a second embodiment of the presently claimed invention, the rearward-facing keyboard is incorporated in a double-sided keyboard in which opposing the rearward-facing keyboard is a traditional front-facing keyboard. The double-sided keyboard is assembled in a way that the rearward-facing keyboard is on one side of the double-sided keyboard while the traditional front-facing keyboard is on another side of the double-sided keyboard. A hinging means, being installed approximately at one edge of the double-sided keyboard, is used for connecting the double-sided keyboard to one edge of a tablet computer or mobile computing device.

"The double-sided keyboard is attached on to the back of a tablet computer or mobile computing device. The front of the tablet computer or mobile computing device is the display screen. The double-sided keyboard is attached on to the back of the tablet computer or mobile computing device in a way that the traditional front-facing keyboard is facing and parallel to, or in contact with, the back of the tablet computer or mobile computing device while the reward-facing keyboard are facing rearward away from the user as the user is holding and facing the display screen of the tablet computer or mobile computing device.

"The hinging means of the double-sided keyboard further includes a sliding mechanism that allows the double-sided keyboard to slide back and forth so that the double-sided keyboard can be slide out from the back of the tablet computer or mobile computing device, exposing the traditional front-facing keyboard to the user as the user is holding and facing the display screen of the tablet computer or mobile computing device. The hinging means also allows the double-sided keyboard to pivot vertically about the edge of the tablet computer or mobile computing device once the double-sided keyboard is slide out from the back of the tablet computer or mobile computing device, resembling the keyboard-screen arrangement of an opened laptop computer. In this position, the traditional front-facing keyboard is laid before and facing to the user while the rearward-facing keyboard is facing downward or being in contact with a supporting surface.

"The key orientation or layout of the traditional front-facing keyboard can be that of any rapid typing system, such as that of the QWERTY keyboard layout. Hence the user can choose to type with either the reward-facing keyboard when placing the double-sided keyboard on the back of the tablet computer or mobile computing device, or the traditional front-facing keyboard when slide out from the back of the tablet computer or mobile computing device.

"In accordance to various embodiments of the presently claimed invention, the hinging means of the rearward-facing keyboard and the double-sided keyboard further include a locking mechanism for adjusting and fixing the orientation of the tablet computer or mobile computing device at various pivoting angles between the keyboards and the tablet computer or mobile computing device.

"In accordance to various embodiments of the presently claimed invention, the rearward-facing keyboard or the double-sided keyboard can be a built-in feature of the tablet computer or mobile computing device, or a detachable ancillary peripheral to the tablet computer or mobile computing device.

"In accordance to various embodiments of the presently claimed invention, the keys of the keyboards can be mechanical tactile keys, touch sensing keys, or combination thereof. In accordance to various embodiments, the keys can also be reassigned with different letters, numbers, and symbols through software and/or hardware configuration during assembly or during usage runtime.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"Embodiments of the invention are described in more detail hereinafter with reference to the drawings, in which:

"FIG. 1 shows a diagram illustrating a rearward-facing keyboard or a double-sided keyboard that is attached to the back of a tablet computer and being held by both hands of a user in a rearward-typing position in accordance to one embodiment of the presently claimed invention;

"FIG. 2 shows a diagram illustrating a rearward-facing keyboard that is hinge-connected to one edge of a tablet computer and flipped open into a horizontal position in accordance to one embodiment of the presently claimed invention;

"FIG. 3 shows a diagram illustrating a rearward-facing keyboard that is flipped open into a traditional front facing position with the two partial fields of keys being rotated outward in accordance to one embodiment of the presently claimed invention;

"FIG. 4 shows a diagram illustrating a double-sided keyboard that is hinge-connected to one edge of a tablet computer and slide out from back of the tablet computer, exposing the traditional front-facing keyboard to the user as the user is holding and facing the display screen of the tablet computer or mobile computing device, in accordance to one embodiment of the presently claimed invention; and

"FIG. 5 shows a diagram illustrating a double-sided keyboard that is slide into a traditional front-facing position with a traditional front-facing keyboard facing to a user, resembling the keyboard-screen arrangement of an opened laptop computer, in accordance to one embodiment of the presently claimed invention;

"FIG. 6 shows a diagram illustrating a thin rearward-facing keyboard or a double-sided keyboard that is attached on to the back of a tablet computer with touch sensing keys in accordance to one embodiment of the presently claimed invention; and

"FIG. 7 shows a diagram illustrating a rearward-facing keyboard that is built-in to the back of a tablet computer with touch sensing keys in accordance to one embodiment of the presently claimed invention."

For additional information on this patent application, see: Kwok, Sze Wai. Ergonomic Rearward Keyboard. Filed January 28, 2014 and posted July 24, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=3434&p=69&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140717.PD.&OS=PD/20140717&RS=PD/20140717

Keywords for this news article include: Patents.

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Source: Computer Weekly News


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