Re: Optimus keyboard in the news

Date: Fri May 04 2007 - 08:37:43 CST

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    Hi All:

        Here is an alternative that does switch languages on the fly that addresses many of the concerns of lower cost, larger displays that are not embedded in the keys, new ways of doing CJK (eg, direct creation and editing of CJ characters using brushstrokes with no need to index into libraries of pre-made characters), a full numeric keypad, all arrow (and other editing keys of a standard PC keyboard), etc.

        Please see a multimedia presentation (in 8 languages) for the keypad implemented in a mobile phone context (you can switch languages using the flag selection at the bottom of the home page). Also, you can download (from the software page of a trial version for free of a multi-language virtual keypad for your desktop that will switch among a number of languages and enter each in Word documents (and do pictograph creation and editing as an abstraction of the CJ character entry), and that gives some sample fonts of pure brushstrokes. (It only works on MS OS at this time.)

        It is a different format entirely than the standard QWERTY keyboard - but some folks in this email stream were starting to question that format although I know it is a difficult one to broach), but that is intentional so that it fits easily in mobile devices that are far more frequently used in many parts of the world that do not speak or write in English.

        It uses a mode-switching paradigm that has proved to be very highly effective in usability testing. Interestingly, it involves the challenge of analyzing languages based on a base-12 format.

        I am only replying because the line of discussion was directly related to what we are working on, and it seemed that people might be interested in other non-QWERTY keypads that implement a "hybrid" physical key/dynamic display approach. We are developing this not only because of the text entry issues, but also to address the issue of "command" entry in multi-function mobile devices, handheld remotes and other contexts that are arising.


    >-----Original Message-----
    >From: Don Osborn []
    >Sent: Thursday, May 3, 2007 08:17 AM
    >To: ''Debbie Garside'',,
    >Subject: RE: Optimus keyboard in the news
    >Thanks Debbie, I hear you and think I understand where you and others are
    >coming from. To respond to your phrasing, I'd separate out "better" and
    >"cheaper." I agree completely that there are cheaper ways of doing this
    >(that is, meeting input requirements of minority languages with
    >extended-Latin or non-Latin scripts in multilingual societies), but would
    >not agree that there is a "better" way (that is, if price were not a
    >concern, and speaking of the concept [one hopes the Optimus in practice will
    >live up to the hype]). So I'll keep hoping there'll be some breakthough in
    >costs, but in the meantime won't put off working for more immediately
    >realistic solutions.
    >Before leaving this topic let me offer three more quick thoughts:
    >* Unicode solved the issue of how to deal with multiple scripts by in effect
    >expanding the code space to cover everything in a single system, but we
    >still are dealing with input systems that are the direct descendants of
    >typewriter keyboards. I'm seeing the input situation today as analogous to
    >the character encoding situation when 8-bit was the norm: there's a "fixed"
    >layer (visible on the keyboard) that is the base and is changed only at some
    >cost, and a "variable" layer that can be different for different needs but
    >is not as visible and sometimes is a problem for users to deal with.
    >* What about the possibility of a "hybrid" keyboard in which only some keys
    >are dynamic OLEDs or LCDs? For instance the numeric keypad on the right
    >could be used this way. As costs decline, this might be an alternative
    >(though it would require keyboard layout creators that take this into
    >* If we do get to see these keyboards at a lower price, it would be
    >interesting to see what kind of new input methods might emerge for non-Latin
    >scripts with large numbers of characters (CJK of course, but also others
    >such as languages written in Ethiopic/Ge'ez) and indeed for languages like
    >Vietnamese and Yoruba that have multiple diacritics in Latin-based
    >> -----Original Message-----
    >> From: [] On
    >> Behalf Of Debbie Garside
    >> Sent: Thursday, May 03, 2007 6:51 AM
    >> To:;;
    >> Subject: RE: Optimus keyboard in the news
    >> Hi Don
    >> IMHO the Optimus keyboard is way too over priced and because it uses
    >> individual LCDs for each key it will remain over priced.
    >> I agree with you that the potential for this is enormous. The need is
    >> there
    >> but there are better/cheaper ways of doing this.
    >> Best regards
    >> Debbie Garside

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