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back to article Apple patents miracle combo mouse-keyboard

Apple has filed a patent for a hybrid keyboard, combining the utility of a FingerWorks surface with the tactility of physical keys though the practical application of cameras. Since Apple bought FingerWorks - makers of multi-function keyboards for the well-heeled - it's applied multitouch technology to everything; except the …

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I was saving up for a Fingerworks keyboard

Then Apple bought them and shut down sales about a week before I had the cash.

I blame Steve Jobs* for my RSI.

* not really. Although I still do harbour a minor grudge against Apple for removing such an awesome piece of tech from the market.

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Anonymous Coward

RSI

wouldnt typing on a flat surface increase RSI rather than decrease as there is nothing to absorb the impact of the press?

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yes and no

If you hammer a flat surface, that's definitely bad. but then same same for a keyboard.

If you learn enough control of your fingers to maintain a light touch, then it's OK. I use a scissor-action/short-travel (laptop-style) keyboard because the pressure+impact of a standard keyboard is too much for me - keys that push down also push back, don't forget.

The advantages of not having a mouse (reaching off to the left/right to reach pointing device from your centre position is Bad), scrollwheel and other RSI-nasties probably outweighs the potential disadvantage of no key feedback.

iirc, the fingerworks board had a bit of give in it. not that I ever got to see one, thanks Steve.

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Jobs Horns

Hang on a minute

Isn’t this just like the Sony PS3 Keypad? That has a mouse mode that allows you to just stroke the keys.

I used to know someone who stroked his BBC Micro. He was very strange.

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Thumb Down

not used one

I've not used one but if that's the case then Sony will obviously sue them because yeah, it sounds exactly the same.

Surely Sony would have patented it already though?

Still horrible that you can patent a concept like this in my opinion anyway, fair enough the exact tech specs but the concepts? Thumbs down cause these guys really need to stop being so small minded.

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Yeah, you're right!

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/2378898/ps3_wireless_keypad_review/

4 minutes in.

Surely this patent will now be rejected?

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Re: my post above

Having said that, the Sony PS3 keypad probably relies on the keys themselves being touch-sensitive, whereas Apple's patent is for a finger-watching camera mounted on the keyboard.

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Troll

how is this different from the 2 screen notebook shown sometime ago?...

... the 2nd screen is a touch screen that can double as a keyboard and mouse when you want it to be. Otherwise you have a 2 screen notebook.

any way, I've been using a normal keyboard for a long time, I honestly can't see my self using a keyboard that doesn't have touchable buttons, unless I am willing to start looking at the keyboard once again.

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@nemo2000

Thats EXACTLY what I was going to say?

You press a button and use the keyboard as a touch pad. It works surprisingly well. Shame the device is miserable at everything else......

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Silver badge

Touch typing?

You need physical keys (or at least consistent bumps of some sort) to touch-type, dontcha?

And you need a flat surface to swipe, dontcha?

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Troll

The key word in the article is 'camera'

This patent clearly keeps the real-key keyboard and simply adds motion detection _above_ it.

You can type as normal, but when you want to use it as a mouse, simply raise your hand (I'd guess about 3") and move it about. Splay your hand _in the air_ to zoom etc.

Sounds pretty innovative to me. My first thought at the description was that they'd put little touchpads on each keycap, but if they can get a no-touch camera system to work, that sounds good to me.

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Jobs Horns

The Innovation here is....

Attaching an Apple logo to what is otherwise prior art.

Most of the people who grant patents in the US will grant Apple one simply based on the fact that Apple are patenting it regardless of prior art, This just shows how broken the patent office is when all Apple need to do is take somebody elses work attach their logo and proclaim that they've invented something new.

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Silver badge

Microwriter

I never understood why the inventor of the Microwriter, a five button keyboard that looked just like a mouse, didn't stick a little wheel in the bottom and patent this way back in the 80s. It's hardly a new idea.

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Pint

Isn't this a bad idea?

I was always under the impression that unless there is some returning pressure against muscle, you can develop problems like RSI? Is this wrong?

There have already been cases of people getting RSI from overuse of touch-screen phones and gaming devices due to the ability to make very small, rapid movements with very little back-pressure to digits, the common cause of RSI.

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FAIL

RTFA

Come on, you came all the way to the comments section without reading the article first?

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IBM Model M

That is all.

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Welcome

Model M

Yep, Model M is where it's it. This one is old enough to vote. The one I have at home is old enough to rent a car (25 years).

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Happy

The be-all, end-all of keyboards...

And yeah, I'll admit that not everyone likes them. Even so, the M is the stuff that computing legends are made from. (Typing on one with a DOB of 10-24-1990 right now.)

They're still made today, albeit not as heavily as they once were. Look up "Unicomp" if you want a modern one with a PS/2 or USB connection. I bought one of the new ones as a "treat" and haven't regretted it for an instant. I may buy another for work, because a USB one would come in really handy there.

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Bronze badge

Agreed

I had a Dell branded Lexmark Model M, got rid of it because I thought it took up too much space. Loved the sound and feel of that thing.

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They're missing a trick

Why not just have a textured touch screen surface with slight give in it, nothing major, just enough for most people to feel where their hands are on the screen. Then you can hone your typing skills in the same way you can with a physical keyboard

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Boffin

Yeah, bit late to the game, TBH.

After all, some time soon (probably next year) we'll all be using Kinnect-style air-mice, where the laptop or PC moves the on-screen mouse in repsonse to you moving your hand and clicking imaginary buttons, all in mid-air. Apple has so missed the boat on this one.

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Anonymous Coward

God forbid

that you should have to move your hand beyond the end of your keyboard.

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Silver badge

Indeed

I have a keyboard and a mouse and I fail to see what all the hoopla is about.

Of course, I never use "smartphones", or tablets or any other digital thingy outside of a PC or a DVD reader, so I never will have any use for this kind of stuff.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

FAIL

And why do we ....

still have QWERTY keyboards, when the mechanical reasons for them disappeared about forty years ago as mechanical typewriters were dropped from manufacture? People will stick with what they're familiar with unless there's some advantage so enormous that it's instantly apparent.

In the real world out there few secretaries regard word processing as anything other than a glorified typewriter and even a mouse is regarded with suspicion. Gestures? It would take decades to convince them!

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