Keyboard and Mouse
How it works
Figure 1 shows an overview of the prototype Combimouse.
Figure 1. Overview of system
The left hand unit is a stationary keyboard part.
The right hand unit is a mobile combination keyboard and mouse that can be gripped and moved around on a support surface as is done with a conventional mouse.
Normally the right hand unit is in keyboard mode. To change to mouse mode, the user clenches his/her hand and grips the right hand unit touching the area labelled Contact switch 1. A proximity circuit detects the finger contact, and the unit changes to mouse mode. During mouse mode the cursor is enabled so that movement of the right hand unit on the table/mousemat, causes the cursor to move. In addition, during mouse mode and depending on how the unit is gripped, the keys indicated become the mouse click buttons and the Scrolling keys.
Touching contact switch 2 enables the 2nd Fn keys. So if the user would like to press the Pg up, Pg Dn, Home, Endl keys, the palmrest is gripped, with the small finger touching contact switch 2 and the three middle fingers resting on the Home, Pg dn and End keys ready to press the required key.
(Contact switches 1 and 2 are actually implemented as the same switch, however in terms of functionality it is easier to think of them as two separate switches.)
As a mouse, the right hand unit has a similar mass and centre of gravity to the Microsoft Intellimouse. It has a similar grip to a conventional mouse.
Figure 2. Overview of prototype system
To accommodate left handed users; the left hand unit could also be designed as a mobile unit.
Detailed description of Right hand unit
Figure 3. Right hand unit
The following factors have contributed to the high mobility of the right hand unit:
There are two ways of gripping the right hand unit during mouse mode.
The first is referred to as normal mouse mode (see Figure 4), as this
is the way that most people grip a mouse.
The second method of gripping the mouse is with three fingers are on the mouse buttons (keys). This is shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5: Three-finger Mode
Figure 6 shows the hand in the home position while typing.
Figure 6: Keyboard Mode
An integrated numeric keypad is implemented similarly to notebook computers.
Due to the ability to move easily between keyboard and mouse modes, numeric
entry in spreadsheets is very easy. This is shown in the demonstration
In order to accomodate different size hands it is possible to exchange the palm grip. In addition the palm grip can be slided to various positions to suit the user's hand size.
For the prototype combination keyboard and mouse communications from the RHU to the LHU is via infra red.
The final design might use a RF link. This may increase the cost of the product and a commercial decision is required. The new Bluetooth technology may be the best solution.