Re: [OT?] LCD/LED Keyboard

From: Alex Bochannek (
Date: Fri Jul 25 2003 - 16:22:46 EDT

  • Next message: Michael Everson: "Re: Damn'd fools"

    It appears my response from this morning didn't make it to the list, so
    here it is again. I apologize if this results in a duplicate.


    > Since I did look into all the issues before that are mentioned in this
    > thread, let me respond to them.
    > The applications of dynamic keycaps are pretty broad. To people on this
    > list the need to remember different keyboard layouts, dead-keys, compose
    > sequences, level and group shifts, are a daily necessity and could be
    > greatly simplified. The counter-argument is often that touch-typists
    > look at the keys anyway, which is under closer examination actually not
    > true. Even a proficient touch-typist will have to find less frequently
    > key combinations and often will end up writing a key sequence cheat sheet
    > or mark up keycaps. The benefit for learning a new keyboard layout or for
    > accessing rarely used characters is obvious. I very occasionally would
    > to be able to access Cyrillic or Greek characters, yet have to relearn
    > layout or use an on-screen display to find them every time.
    > Another application I was eluding to was what I termed modal (or complex)
    > input environments. What I mean by that is that despite the efforts of
    > human interface researchers, many computer programs constantly shift
    > between different input modes and key sequences change meaning based on
    > For UNIX users, VI and Emacs are a painfully obvious example. But even
    > extreme cases come to mind. When hitting the ALT key in Windows, the
    > of your window become accessible through keyboard shortcuts. If the 'F'
    > would then read "File" or maybe 'F4' would read "Quit", shortcuts would
    > more easily learned and user efficiency would go up. If you remember the
    > WPS word-processing keyboards DEC used to ship or the lay-on templates
    > came with every copy of Wordstar, the utility of this too should be
    > obvious. After all, there is a reason why we have some keys already
    > 'Home' or 'Backspace'.
    > The issues of implementation technology, cost and price came up. I talked
    > to the eInk folks a while back and while their technology looks like it
    > going into the right direction, matrix addressable eInk isn't quite there
    > yet. LCD, OLED, and related technologies seem more practical, but power
    > consumption would be a problem. In a first generation product a separate
    > power supply could be acceptable, but most users would not want to deal
    > with it. Cost is uncertain and will be necessarily much higher than for a
    > regular keyboard. Off-setting the initial R&D through the price of the
    > product seems like a bad idea since that would increase the price
    > differential even more. The corollary being that a large company has a
    > better chance of manufacturing such a device successfully than a small
    > In terms of price, I have talked to numerous people and the general
    > consensus seems to be that people would expect to pay more that US$100
    > less than US$1,000. The cost savings are hard to quantify, but in the
    > of a multi-national IT manager, not having to stock different devices for
    > different locales, does introduce a tangible saving.
    > While I am happy to have an opportunity to share my thoughts on this
    > I am not sure how appropriate further discussion on the Unicode list
    > be. If anybody who reads this is in a position to more seriously
    > investigate this topic, please contact me directly since it is an area in
    > which I am greatly interested.
    > Alex.

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