In 1984, Ted Selker, a researcher at PARC, worked on a pointing stick based on a study that a typist needed a relatively long 0.75 sec to shift the hand from the keyboard to the mouse, and comparable time to shift back. Selker built a model of a device that would minimize this time. It was only three years later, working at IBM, that Selker refined his design, resulting in the TrackPoint product on which IBM received US patents for in 1996. In 2005, Lenovo acquired IBM's PC business making them one of the top PC makers overnight. Last week Lenovo's patent application for the reinvention of the TrackPoint was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The new design, according to Lenovo, may be integrated into future iterations of their ThinkPad and/or workstation keyboards.
Broadly speaking, Lenovo's exemplary embodiments such as patent FIG. 2C noted above, are part of an invention that provides methods and systems for inputting data. Exemplary embodiments may include a keyboard having one or more integrated keys which could be used as a data input device in a keyboard mode and in a touchpad mode. The integrated key may have a key top covering a plurality of keys of a typical keyboard. In the keyboard mode, the touch surface may detect a user's pressing movement and may send a signal to a computing device that the user has pressed a key that would be typically located at the position the user depressed.
In the touchpad mode, the touch surface of the integrated key may detect a user's movement, for example, and in response, a cursor or pointer on a screen of a computing device moves correspondingly to a new position. More specifically, in one exemplary embodiment, the "T, Y, G, H" keys may be integrated as a single key top with the touch surface having a touch sensor built in.
For more information on this invention, see Lenovo's patent application 20120306752 that was originally filed in Q2 2011.
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