Monthly Archives: June 2013

Why not disclose how the Combimouse Keyboard mode brake works?

The Combimouse right part is both a keyboard and a mouse. It has many conflicting requirements.

One of them is that it must not move around during keyboard mode while in mouse mode it must be very mobile.

This conundrum has taken many years to resolve. For a long time I had a solution which didn’t really work well and I tried to convince myself that it was okay. It was always a relief to go back to using a standard keyboard.

Clearly a proper solution was required. In early 2013 I though of a solution and have now patented it.

The solution is to make the right part supported on rubber feet during keyboard mode and supported by low friction sliders during mouse mode. It is automatic and the user doesn’t have to do anything.

One of the requirements for a solution was that it could not add any weight to the top keyboard part.

It works incredibly well.

I have patented it and shown it to a number of people.

I have not talked about it openly because I think that there may be companies who may be considering copying the Combimouse. I have disclosed a lot of other information already which has taken a lot of work and many years of work. For now I would like to keep as much information as possible confidential for as long as possible. I will be disclosing it within the next few months.

This is the reason why I have not shown any photos of the bottom of the right part.

Patents are useful because they offer intellectual protection and so there is incentives for companies to imagine new things. The problem is that big companies simply copy and with their big budgets leave the legal problems for their lawyers to sort out a few years down the road. That is assuming the small company can still afford to sue.

Another interesting thing to consider is that up until now only one person has asked me about this issue. There have been hundreds (possibly even thousands) of articles written about the Combimouse and of the ones I have read, no one has even brought up this issue. So, if I wouldn’t have mentioned it, it wouldn’t have raised any suspicions.

I was prompted to post this blog after “Marni” posted this comment on the Combimouse website “Since ergo’ keyboards attract few reviews, you need to have correspondingly *more* information on your site. Fear of buyers remorse is always present and with radically new products from small companies, that nervousness scales up.I think you have to be pre-emptive: provide as much detail as possible.”

This was a fair comment. My response is that I am not concerned that it will be an issue and for the next few months at least I would like to keep it confidential for the reasons above.

I would say that the product speaks for itself. It it works well then it will be successful. We are currently looking for an independent authoritative organisation to evaluate the Combimouse. If they see any problems they will report on it.


Gaming on the Combimouse

I am not a computer gamer and so I would be happy for you to comment and make suggestions.

I have had a number of conversations and done some research and this is where I see things.

Having a multi-button mouse for gaming I would think is useful.

Apparently MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) games would be conveniently played on the Combimouse as the player needs to often quickly type out messages.

The Combimouse uses the scissors mechanism for the keys. This is the same technology used on a lot of computers including all notebook computers and Apple keyboards. This results in a very light keyboard

Apparently this is not the best technology for hard core gamers who prefer mechanical keys. According to this article:

“Most gaming keyboards use mechanical switches, which pair each key to its own spring loaded switch. They are designed to provide superior audio and tactile feedback.”

It is not possible to use mechanical keys on the Combimouse because they are too heavy. Weight of the right part Combimouse is critical and mechanical keys simply can’t be used. In addition a Printed Circuit Board would be required, which would also add mass.

Combimouse key layout and variations to support international options

Let us know what you think about this blog in the comments.

Here is the current layout of the Combimouse.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Combi layout

Note that some key positions had to be changed: Cursor keys, Delete, F1 to F12, back slash and forward slash.

There are four blank keys (user 1, user 2, user 3 and user 4) which will be user configurable.

The Mac control, option and command keys will be supported. We still need to confirm that the Combimouse can auto-detect that it is connected to a Mac.

There is a scroll wheel to the right of the M key.

Combi right 730 x

All keys on the Combimouse will be user configurable via a user configurable utility. So we are expecting that we will be able to support many different keyboard layouts.

It may be a problem putting labels on the keys because the mass of the right part is critical and even adding labels adds significantly.

Initially we will sell the standard US QWERTY version as shown above. We will then look into other versions.

One of the problems with many of the other keyboard layouts is the position of the Enter key.

As an example, the UK keyboard is superimposed over the Combimouse right part in the picture below. As you can see, the Enter would be located off the Combimouse. If the Combimouse part were to be made bigger to include the Enter key it would be too big.

“Hoggy” in the comments section has said that “I’m in the UK and I prefer the US layout for the better access to the enter key – I use it far more often than the hash”.

Combimouse over UK keyboard

As a comparison here is drawing of the Combimouse superimposed over the US keyboard. As you can see the Enter key is located on the Combimouse.

Combimouse over US keyboard