From: Alex Bochannek (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Jul 25 2003 - 16:22:46 EDT
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.
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