Title:
Modified keyboard and systems containing the keyboard
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modified keyboard to facilitate use in a variety of applications such as, for example, gaming is provided. The modified keyboard can include features such as, for example, the relocation of the numeric keypad to the left of an alphanumeric keypad, the change in color of particular keys, the change in relative arrangement of keys, the addition of new keys, and the movement of functions to different sites on the keyboard.



Inventors:
Graham, Tyrol R. (Seattle, WA, US)
Hull, Eric J. (Seattle, WA, US)
Lane, Ryan T. (Seattle, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/122642
Publication Date:
11/24/2005
Filing Date:
05/05/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G06F3/02; G09G5/00; H03K17/94; H03M11/00; (IPC1-7): H03M11/00; H03K17/94
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FERGUSON SAMRETH, MARISSA LIANA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
TUTUNJIAN & BITETTO, P.C. (Melville, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A keyboard, comprising: an alphanumeric keypad; and a numeric keypad disposed to the left of the alphanumeric keypad.

2. The keyboard of claim 1, wherein the numeric keypad is arranged with numbers 7, 8, and 9 in a top row, numbers 4, 2, and 6 in a middle row, and numbers 1, 5, and 3 in a bottom row.

3. The keyboard of claim 2, wherein keys representing numbers 2, 4, 8, and 6 are a different color than a remainder of the keys of the numeric keypad.

4. The keyboard of claim 1, wherein the numeric keypad comprises an up arrow key, a down arrow key, a right arrow key and a left arrow key.

5. The keyboard of claim 4, wherein the numeric keypad is arranged with the up arrow key in a top row of the numeric keypad and the down arrow key, the right arrow key, and the left arrow key disposed in a middle row of the numeric keypad with the down arrow key directly below and in alignment with the up arrow key and the right and left arrow keys directly adjacent on respective right and left sides of the down arrow key.

6. The keyboard of claim 4, wherein said up arrow, down arrow, right arrow, and left arrow keys are a different color than a remainder of the keys of the numeric keypad.

7. The keyboard of claim 1, wherein the numeric keypad has no more than nine keys.

8. The keyboard of claim 1, further comprising directional keys disposed in the alphanumeric keypad with an up arrow key in a top row of the alphanumeric keypad and a down arrow key, a right arrow key, and a left arrow key disposed in a middle row of the alphanumeric keypad with the down arrow key directly below and in alignment with the up arrow key and the right and left arrow keys directly adjacent to the down arrow key.

9. The keyboard of claim 8, wherein up arrow key, down arrow key, right arrow key, and left arrow key of the alphanumeric keypad are a different color than adjacent keys of the alphanumeric keypad.

10. The keyboard of claim 1, further comprising a space bar disposed below the numeric keypad.

11. The keyboard of claim 1, wherein the alphanumeric keypad comprises a row of function keys arranged from at least F1 to F12 and the caps lock function is associated with at least one of the function keys.

12. The keyboard of claim 1, wherein the caps lock function is exclusively associated with at least one of the function keys.

13. The keyboard of claim 1, wherein the alphanumeric keypad comprises a first row comprising number keys arranged from 1 to 0 and a second row comprising function keys arranged from F1 to F10, said function keys F1 to F10 being disposed directly above and in alignment with number keys 1 to 0, respectively.

14. The keyboard of claim 1, wherein the alphanumeric keypad has a QWERTY arrangement of numbers and letters and a space bar disposed along a bottom row of the alphanumeric keypad with the space bar arranged to extend at least partially below the A and S keys in order to be more accessible to a left-mounted numeric keypad.

15. A keyboard comprising: an alphanumeric keypad comprising a row of function keys arranged from at least F1 to F12; and a caps lock function for the alphanumeric keypad that is associated with the function keys.

16. The keyboard of claim 15, wherein number lock and print screen functions are exclusively associated with the function keys.

17. The keyboard of claim 15, wherein a scroll lock function is exclusively associated with the function keys.

18. The keyboard of claim 15, wherein a pause function is exclusively associated with the function keys.

19. The keyboard of claim 15, wherein said caps lock function is exclusively associated with the function keys.

20. A keyboard comprising: an alphanumeric keypad comprising: a first row having number keys arranged from 1 to 9; and a second row having function keys arranged from F1 to F9, said function keys F1 to F9 being disposed directly above and in alignment with number keys 1 to 9, respectively.

21. The keyboard of claim 20, wherein said first row further comprises a 0 key immediately adjacent to the 9 key and said second row further comprises a function key F10 that is directly above and in alignment with the 0 key.

22. The keyboard of claim 21, wherein said second row further comprises function keys F11 and F12 arranged adjacent to function key F10.

23. The keyboard of claim 22, wherein a caps lock function is assigned to a one of the function keys F1 to F12.

24. A keyboard comprising: an alphanumeric keypad having a first space bar; a numeric keypad; and a second spacebar disposed within or below said numeric keypad.

25. A keyboard comprising: an alphanumeric keypad with a QWERTY arrangement of numbers and letters; and a space bar disposed along a bottom row of the alphanumeric keypad, wherein the space bar is arranged to extend at least partially below the A and S keys.

26. The keyboard of claim 25, further comprising a directional arrow keypad disposed to the left of the alphanumeric keypad.

27. A system comprising: a controller; a display coupled to the controller to display information from the controller; and a keyboard comprising an alphanumeric keypad and a secondary keypad, wherein the secondary keypad comprises more and less keys, wherein pressing the more key causes the controller to provide more information on the display and pressing the less key causes the controller to provide less information on the display.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This patent application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/569,187, filed on May 7, 2004 and which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to keyboard devices. More particularly, it relates to a modified keyboard and systems containing the same for use in a gaming environment.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Keyboards for use with computers and other devices have taken a variety of shapes to facilitate their use in data entry, as well as for ergonomic considerations. Keyboard design has often followed the earlier designs of typewriters which were developed primarily to type text documents. Computers and other keyboard-using devices have been extended to uses other than text document preparation, such as graphics and database development.

Another example of such a use is gaming, for example, computer or console gaming. In many games, the keyboard and its keys are used to input commands for the game using a keystroke or a combination of keystrokes. Some games require swift pressing of the keys during the game play. Other games have a large number of possible commands with many different keystrokes or key combinations. Present keyboards may not be conveniently designed for gaming or other applications of a computer or other keyboard-using device.

It is therefore desirable to have a keyboard that overcomes the shortfalls of the prior art keyboards and whose key layout and positioning is adapted specifically for the gaming environment.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with an aspect of the invention, the keyboard includes an alphanumeric keypad, and a numeric keypad disposed to the left of the alphanumeric keypad.

According to another aspect of the invention, the numeric keypad is arranged with numbers 7, 8, and 9 in a top row, numbers 4, 2, and 6 in a middle row, and numbers 1, 5, and 3 in a bottom row. The keys representing numbers 2, 4, 8, and 6 can be a different color than a remainder of the keys of the numeric keypad.

The numeric keypad is arranged with the up arrow key in a top row of the numeric keypad and the down arrow key, the right arrow key, and the left arrow key disposed in a middle row of the numeric keypad with the down arrow key directly below and in alignment with the up arrow key and the right and left arrow keys directly adjacent on respective right and left sides of the down arrow key. Another aspect would include different colors for the up arrow, down arrow, right arrow, and left arrow keys (i.e., different in color from the keys of the numeric keypad).

According to another aspect of the invention, the numeric keypad has no more than nine keys. In addition, the numeric keypad can include a space bar (within or below the same) separate and apart from the space bar contained within the alphanumeric keypad.

According to yet another aspect of the invention, the alphanumeric keypad is designed such that a row of function keys arranged from at least F1 to F12, and the caps lock function is associated with at least one of the function keys. It is also possible that the caps lock function is exclusively associated with at least one of the function keys.

The alphanumeric keypad includes a first row of number keys arranged from 1 to 0 and a second row of function keys arranged from F1 to F10. The function keys F1 to F10 are directly above and in direct alignment with the corresponding number keys 1 to 0, respectively.

According to another aspect of the invention, the alphanumeric keypad has a space bar arranged to extend at least partially below the A and S keys in order to be more accessible to a left-mounted numeric keypad.

In accordance with some other aspects of the invention, the keyboard includes alphanumeric keypad having a row of function keys arranged from at least F1 to F12, and a caps lock function for the alphanumeric keypad that is associated with the function keys when pressed simultaneously with the Fn key. The number lock (Num Lk), print screen (PrtSc), scroll lock (ScrLk), and pause functions are exclusively associated with the function keys when pressed simultaneously with the Fn key. The normally mapped operations performed by the F1-F12 are thus not interrupted.

According to yet another aspect of the invention, the keyboard includes an alphanumeric keypad having a first space bar, a numeric keypad, and a second spacebar disposed within or below the numeric keypad.

According to anther aspect of the invention, the system includes a controller, a display coupled to the controller to display information from the controller, and a keyboard having an alphanumeric keypad and a secondary keypad. The secondary keypad includes more and less keys, wherein pressing the more key causes the controller to provide more information on the display and pressing the less key causes the controller to provide less information on the display

Other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the invention, for which reference should be made to the appended claims. It should be further understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that, unless otherwise indicated, they are merely intended to conceptually illustrate the structures and procedures described herein.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

In the drawings wherein like reference numerals denote similar components throughout the views:

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a system, according to an aspect of the invention;

FIG. 2A is a schematic top view of a modified keyboard, according to another aspect of the invention; and

FIG. 2B is a schematic top view of the modified keyboard, according to another aspect of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The keyboards are typically coupled to a controller such as a computer, terminal, console (e.g., a game console), or the like. The controller can execute programs or connect to a service provider, such as a server, a network, or the Internet, that executes or provides programs to the device. Connection to the service provider can be accomplished using any connection technology including, for example, wired or wireless networks or combinations thereof. For example, the keyboard may be used in conjunction with a console that connects to a service on the Internet that allows a user to play games or execute other applications over the Internet; either by direct communication with the Internet or by downloading the game or application from the Internet. One example of such a system is described in U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/569,187, incorporated herein by reference. As another alternative, the keyboard can be used with a controller that has the game or application stored locally, for example, on a hard drive, or on removable media, such as a CD-ROM, cartridge, DVD, magnetic storage media, etc.

FIG. 1 illustrates one example of an arrangement using the keyboard. The arrangement includes a server 208 coupled to the Internet 210 or other network. A controller 200 (for example, a computer, console, or terminal) is coupled to the Internet 210 (or network) for receiving information from the server 208. In alternative arrangements, the information is stored on the controller or provided by removable media, such as a CD-ROM, cartridge, DVD, magnetic storage media, or the like. The controller 200 can be connected to the Internet 210 or another computer network via a modem (e.g., cable, DSL, telephone, etc.) by a wired connection, a wireless connection, or any combination thereof. Generally, this arrangement also includes a display 202, a keyboard 206, and a pointing device 204 (for example, a mouse or other input device such as a track ball, a joystick, a wheel, a pedal, a biometric sensor, a tactile feedback device, etc) that are connected to the controller 200, either by wired or wireless connection.

The keyboard 206 and the pointing device 204 can be coupled to the controller 200 in any wired or wireless manner using any local communication protocol. The display 202 can be a high definition television, standard definition television, or a computer monitor (e.g., CRT, LCD, Plasma, etc).

In accordance with an aspect of the invention, keyboards can have one or more modifications, described below, to facilitate use in particular applications, such as gaming. A number of inventive modifications are described, and it is to be understood that any particular keyboard of the invention may have one or more (or even all) of the modifications. Such modifications are directed to, but are not limited to, placing a numeric keypad to the left of an alphanumeric keypad, having particular keys with a different color, changing the relative arrangement of keys, adding new keys, and moving functions to different sites on the keyboard.

FIG. 2 illustrates a keyboard 100 according to an aspect of the invention. Keyboard 100 includes an alphanumeric keypad 110 and a numeric keypad 120. The alphanumeric keypad 110 is illustrated with a standard QWERTY arrangement of numbers, letters, and symbols. It will be understood that other arrangements of numbers, letter, and symbols can be used such as, for example, the Dvorak arrangement or arrangements for languages other than English.

In current keyboards, the numeric keypad is positioned on the right side of the alphanumeric keypad. In some embodiments of the present invention however, the numeric keypad 120 is instead positioned to the left side of the alphanumeric keypad, as illustrated in FIG. 2. Optionally, a second numeric keypad (not shown) may be provided on the right side of the alphanumeric keypad.

The position of the numeric keypad 120 can facilitate playing games that use the directional arrow keys 122, 124, 126, 128 (up arrow, left arrow, down arrow, and right arrow keys, respectively.) In conventional keyboards, the directional arrow keys are generally provided in a numeric keypad or arrow keypad (or both) to the right of the alphanumeric keypad or the directional arrow keys are provided on the right-side of the alphanumeric keypad (illustrated as keys 122a, 124a, 126a, and 128a in FIG. 2). This arrangement can be awkward when a user also operates a mouse during the game because the mouse is typically positioned to the right of the keyboard.

To alleviate this situation, many games allow use of the W, A, S, and D keys as an alternative to the directional arrow keys so that a user can operate these keys with the left hand and the mouse or other keys with the right hand. This, however, is also awkward because the W and S keys (which generally represent the up and down arrow keys and are both typically operated with the middle finger) are not aligned with each other but are, rather offset from one another.

Placing a numeric keypad 120 to the left of the alphanumeric keypad 110 allows more convenient placement of the directional arrow keys and permits optimal operation of the directional arrow keys with the left hand and a mouse or other keys with the right hand. The directional arrow keys 122, 124, 126, 128 can be configured in a variety of arrangements such as, for example, a square arrangement (not shown, but corresponding to the 2, 4, 6, and 8 keys of a typical numeric keypad) or an inverted “T” arrangement (as illustrated in FIG. 2).

Another possible modification of the keyboard is the alteration of numeric keypad 120 so that the 2 key and 5 key are inverted, as illustrated in FIG. 2, The numeric keypad with this modification has one row with the 1, 5, and 3 keys and another row with the 4, 2, and 6 keys. This places the directional arrow keys 122, 124, 126, 128 (associated with the 2, 4, 6, and 8 keys of the numeric keypad) in an inverted “T” arrangement that is common for games. As an alternative modification, the down arrow could be associated with the 5 key instead of the 2 key and the numeric keypad could be left in the more typical numerical arrangement with rows having the 1, 2, and 3 keys, and the 4, 5, and 6 keys respectively.

Typical numeric keypads have the numbers 0 to 9, as well as several other keys such as one or more of the following: decimal (.), division (/), multiplication (*), subtraction (−), addition (+), enter, and number lock (num lock) keys. The numeric keypad 120 of keyboard 100 can have all of these keys or, as a modification of the keyboard, only a subset of these keys. For example, in one embodiment, the numeric keypad 120 has only numbers 1 to 9 as illustrated in FIG. 2. In yet another embodiment, the numeric keypad has all of the keys of a typical numeric keypad.

The modified keyboard arrangement illustrated in FIG. 2 is particularly useful because the numeric keypad 120 does not contain the 0 key and other non-number keys which, unlike the 1-9 keys, are not typically employed in the movement or orientation functions in a gaming environment. Thus, the arrangement of the numeric keypad 120 in FIG. 2 (optionally including a space bar as described below) can be limited primarily to movement or orientation functions, thereby avoiding inadvertent keystrokes that activate other game functions. In yet another embodiment (not shown), a directional arrow keypad with only the four directional arrow keys, typically in an inverted “T” formation, is positioned to the left of the alphanumeric keypad.

According to another aspect of the invention, the numeric keypad 120 includes a space bar 135 which can function identically to the alphanumeric keypad space bar 134 (See FIG. 2B). By disposing the space bar 135 below the numeric keypad 120, the user will now have left hand access to the space bar without removing their hand from the directional arrows keys 122, 124, 126 and 128. As shown, space bar 135 can replace the more, less and * buttons from the embodiment shown in FIG. 2A, or in a further alternative embodiment, space bar 135 could also be disposed below such keys.

Generally speaking, the #5 key (unless it is reassigned as the down arrow key) typically does not have another function in a gaming environment. In some embodiments of a modified keyboard of the present invention, this key is used to access another function, such as pull down a menu associated with the computer, console, or service to which the user is connected.

Yet another possible modification of the keyboard includes having a different color for some or all of the directional arrow keys. For example, the directional arrow keys 122, 124, 126, 128 of the numeric keypad 120 (or the directional arrow keys of any other numeric keypad of the keyboard) can be a different color than other keys of the numeric keypad. Additionally or alternatively, any directional arrow keys in the alphanumeric keypad 110, such as keys 122a, 124a, 126a, 128a or the W, A, S, and D keys (or both sets of keys) can be a different color than the adjacent keys of the alphanumeric keypad. This difference in color can help the user visually identify where to position his fingers quickly during game play.

In addition to, or as an alternative to color, one of more the directional arrow keys (e.g., keys 122, 124, 126, 128, 122a, 124a, 126a, 128a, W, A, S, and D) of a modified keyboard can be textured so that they user can feel when his fingers are in the right position. Examples of texturing include texturing the entire top of the key with protrusions, depressions, or channels, or forming the key of a different material than adjacent keys.

Another example of texturing is positioning a single raised protrusion or depression on the key. In one embodiment of a modified keyboard, one or more up arrow keys (e.g., keys 122, 122a, or W) can be textured so that the user can then, without needing to look at the keyboard, place his fingers correctly on the keys. It will be recognized that any of one or more of the other directional arrow keys can be chosen for texturing in addition to, or as an alternative to, the up arrow key.

Many keyboards have raised protrusions on the F and J keys to facilitate finger placement for touch typing. Optionally, modified keyboard 100 does not have such texturing of the F and J keys to prevent confusion with textured directional arrow keys.

Another possible keyboard modification relates to the placement of the function keys 130 relative to the number keys 132 of the alphanumeric keypad 110. Typically, the function keys are placed above the number keys; often in groupings of three or four keys. Moreover, the function keys are not aligned with or are offset from the corresponding number keys.

In some embodiments of the modified keyboard of the present invention, the functions keys 130 are, instead, positioned so that they are directly above and aligned with the corresponding number keys 132. In other words, function keys F1 to F9 are positioned directly above and aligned with the corresponding number 1 to 9 key and function key F10 is positioned directly above and aligned with the 0 key. Optional F11 and F12 keys are typically positioned adjacent to the F10 key. This alignment is particularly effective for use in the gaming environment. For example, when a user accesses menu options, weapons systems or other in-game affordances, the ability to quickly locate a specific key at a glance is crucial. Thus by aligning both sets of keys (i.e., numeric and function), users are able to isolate these sorts of keys more quickly and with less error.

Yet another possible modification relates to the placement of particular specific function keys that are rarely used while playing games at protected positions on the keyboard. One particularly troublesome specific function key is the caps lock (capitalization lock) key that is generally positioned to the left of the A key on the alphanumeric keypad 110. This specific function key can be relocated, for example, as an accessible function associated with one of the function keys such as, for example, the F12 key 152, as illustrated in FIG. 2.

Thus, in accordance with this aspect of the invention, the space that is generally reserved on all other prior art keyboards for the caps lock (CapsLk) key is used instead by a Function (Fn) key, which is used to activate the CapsLk (and potentially other) functions embedded in the F1-F12 keys, as opposed to the normal operations associated with these keys when pressed without simultaneously pressing the Fn key. It is important to note that the prior to the present disclosure, the Function (Fn) key is only found in laptop keyboards.

Thus, as shown, the caps lock key can then be replaced with another key, such as the Function key 150 illustrated in FIG. 2. This Function key 150 will not activate any function when it alone is pressed and so mistakenly pressing this key will not have any unwanted consequences (unlike what typically occurs when the caps lock key is mistakenly pressed). Instead, it activates the relocated caps locks keys when pressed simultaneously with the Function key it has been relocated to. Other specific function keys that can be relocated include, for example, num lock (number lock), scroll lock, pause, Sys Rq, and print screen keys. FIG. 2 illustrates one example of such relocation with the num lock key relocated to the F11 key 154, scroll lock to the F10 key 156, pause to the F9 key 158 and print screen to the F8 key 160.

Another possible keyboard modification involves extension of the space bar 134. The space bar is often used for game control functions that are accessed quickly or often (or both quickly and often). These game control functions are also often used in conjunction with movement or orientation accessed by pressing the directional arrow keys. The space bar in conventional keyboards is generally not positioned near the numeric keypad. In a typical keyboard, there are at least three keys to the left and to the right of the space bar 134: a control key, an alt key, and a Windows™ key. By removing the Windows™ keys, the space bar can be extended so that it is longer for easier access and is closer to the directional arrow keys 122, 124, 126, 128 on the numeric keypad 120, and the directional arrow keys 122a, 124a, 126a, 128a on the alphanumeric keypad 110. In some embodiments, there are only two keys to the left of the space bar 134.

Another keyboard modification related to the space bar includes placing a space bar within the numeric keypad 120 (for example, at the bottom of the numeric keypad) or placing a space bar below the numeric keypad 120. This space bar can be in addition to or as an alternative to the space bar of the alphanumeric keypad.

In yet another possible keyboard modification, additional keys can be added to the keyboard. For example, a more key 142, a less key 144, and a power ups key 146 can be added. The more key and less key can be used, for example, in conjunction with the computer, terminal, or console to control the amount of information or the detail of information that is provided to the user. For example, pressing the more key may result in more information or options being presented to the user. Pressing the less key may result in less comprehensive information or fewer options being presented. As another example, pressing the less key may zoom a game map so that a smaller section of the game area is visible on the screen and pressing the more key may do the opposite so that a larger section of the game area is visible. The power ups key 146 can be used to activate messages, graphics, or other information from a service to which the user is connected.

While there have been shown, described and pointed out fundamental novel features of the invention as applied to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood that various omissions, substitutions and changes in the form and details of the methods described and devices illustrated, and in their operation, may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention. For example, it is expressly intended that all combinations of those elements and/or method steps which perform substantially the same function in substantially the same way to achieve the same results are within the scope of the invention. Moreover, it should be recognized that structures and/or elements and/or method steps shown and/or described in connection with any disclosed form or embodiment of the invention may be incorporated in any other disclosed, described or suggested form or embodiment as a general matter of design choice. It is the intention, therefore, to be limited only as indicated by the scope of the claims appended hereto.