Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Ergonomic and compact alphanumeric keypad for mobiles

Despite the wide use of mobile communication tools, current devices possibly lack convenient user interfaces for text input. While the use of a common keyboard appears to be the most efficient way of alphanumeric input, they still do not own the optimal size for ergonomic use. A Dutch company has developed the UniTap technology for the most compact alphanumeric keypad to be used for text intensive applications of portable mobile devices.
Ergonomic and compact alphanumeric keypad for mobiles
The use of mobile technologies have increased capabilities, including browsing Internet, sending and receiving email and Short Message Service (SMS) as well as handling of personal data and information. All these text-intensive applications have led manufacturers of portable mobile devices to explore various approaches of improving the user interface of the involved devices. These may include exploitation of the existing 12-button alphabet legend, or voice recognition with use of the common keyboard being the most efficient way of alphanumeric input.

While many manufacturers have embedded compact keyboards in their devices and others designed electronic keyboard add-ons, such interfaces are very small. This is mainly due to the size of keys included that doesn't allow clicking without pressing adjacent keys. A solution to this is the use of passive chorded keyboards, which still feature a non-uniform, unfamiliar layered interface without having an optimal size. Still, there has not been any available technology for assuring the ergonomy of a full-size conventional computer keyboard to be used in small-sized mobile devices.

Recently, a Dutch company developed a unique technology called UniTap that shows increased potential for compact full-functional alphanumeric keypads to be employed in small devices. Such devices require efficient and easy-to-use alphanumeric input and may vary from smart phones and 2-way pagers to personal information managers and others. UniTap technology has been designed on the grounds of activation of several adjacent buttons by a fingertip in the most meaningful way allowing the device to interpret activation of several switches.

The derived keypads feature small size with functional elements being up to 16 times smaller than computer keyboards sharing the same functional elements. The new keypads are easy to use without any additional training required. Most importantly, they offer complete alphanumeric input enhanced by any functional keys specific for a particular application. Without requiring any sensor panels, they may be easily integrated into any 12-button telephone keypad and their cost is as low as the cost of conventional keyboard-like button-based devices. For further details click on:
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