Monday, September 27, 2010

Adaptive keyboards and my years-old idea

A few days back there was an article on Microsoft Adaptive Keyboard in Punjab Kesari (okay, I usually stay away from this newspaper but occasionally have a quick glance through it). Intrigued, I had a read and realized that it was similar to something I had sketched when I was in class 11.

Class 11 was the first time I had my own computer. That was the time when every deficiency that I would feel in my computing experience would give me a new idea. And I would write each of those ideas.

One such idea came to my mind when I played Recoil (by Electronic Arts). You have multiple weapons in Recoil, and you switch between them using numeric keys on the computer's keyboard. Initially, I found it annoying to remember which key stood for which weapon, so I scribbled something like this on my notebook:

There should be a keyboard, each of whose keys is composed of a tiny LCD that can display colors. These LCDs will allow the keyboard to be "dynamic", meaning that the functions of keys can be changed depending on the "context", or the "environment" being operated using the keyboard. For example, when playing Recoil, the numeric keys shall stop displaying numeric digits, and each of the keys shall start displaying the icon of the weapon assigned to that key, making it both convenient and quick for a human to switch between weapons, without having to remember anything (except, of course, the icons).

Although an abstract idea is no match for an actual implementation (even if the initial implementation is only a prototype), it's flattering to see that folks at Microsoft have developed something similar to what I thought of over 8 years ago.

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