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Touch-sensitive keyboard/mouse and computing device using the same

Image Number 13 for United States Patent #6107997.

The present invention, generally speakng, provides for a computing device in which the functions of both a keyboard and a mouse are realized compactly using a touch-sensitive pad. The function of a mouse may be realized in similar manner as known "track pads." The function of a keyboard may be realized using "chord keying," i.e., forming different touch patterns on the touch-sensitive pad corresponding to different characters. In one embodiment, the chord patterns are gready simplified as compared to known chord-keying arrangements. In particular, most characters may be input by forming a chord with the thumb and forefinger or thumb and middle finger only. A cross-hair pattern identifies nine separate touch areas, such that 36 unique two-touch (thumb and forefinger or middle finger) touch patterns may be formed. Additional sets of 36 characters each may be designated by specifying touch patterns to shift between characters sets. A computing device using the touch-sensitive keyboard/mouse may be made very small while still employing a familiar point-and-click mode of user interaction that further includes keying. Text may be input to the computing device quickly and easily. In another embodiment, a virtual keypad like that of a telephone is represented, with typically three letters assigned to each key. The familiar point-and-click operation of the computing device may be furthered by providing the computing device with two removable-media storage devices of a known type. In this way, the previous requirement of sub-notebook computers that the operating system, application programs and files all be small, may be loosened. In one embodiment, the computing device employs two color flat panel displays each mounted on different halves of a hinged housing. The housing may be closed, opened flat such that the two flat panel displays appear as one large display, or manipulated such that only one flat panel is visible and the device may be held comfortably in one hand.

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