(19)
(11)EP 3 534 243 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
22.12.2021 Bulletin 2021/51

(21)Application number: 17865180.8

(22)Date of filing:  10.10.2017
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
G06F 3/023(2006.01)
H01H 9/18(2006.01)
H01H 13/02(2006.01)
G06F 3/02(2006.01)
H01H 13/00(2006.01)
H01H 13/83(2006.01)
(52)Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC):
H01H 9/18; G06F 3/023; H01H 13/00; H01H 13/02; H01H 13/83; G06F 3/02
(86)International application number:
PCT/JP2017/037290
(87)International publication number:
WO 2018/079316 (03.05.2018 Gazette  2018/18)

(54)

KEYBOARD THRESHOLD CHANGE APPARATUS AND KEYBOARD

VORRICHTUNG ZUR ÄNDERUNG EINES TASTATURSCHWELLENWERTES UND TASTATUR

DISPOSITIF DE CHANGEMENT DE SEUILS DE CLAVIER ET CLAVIER


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 25.10.2016 JP 2016208491

(43)Date of publication of application:
04.09.2019 Bulletin 2019/36

(73)Proprietor: Topre Corporation
Tokyo 103-0027 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • TOYOSAWA, Yuichi
    Sagamihara-Shi Kanagawa 252-5287 (JP)
  • SATO, Takatoshi
    Sagamihara-Shi Kanagawa 252-5287 (JP)

(74)Representative: Weickmann & Weickmann PartmbB 
Postfach 860 820
81635 München
81635 München (DE)


(56)References cited: : 
JP-A- H05 189 118
JP-A- 2016 504 685
US-A1- 2005 073 446
US-A1- 2007 182 716
US-A1- 2011 074 720
JP-A- 2015 216 611
US-A1- 2003 208 324
US-A1- 2007 132 735
US-A1- 2010 148 999
  
  • LIU, YAO: "Topre, value changes in the strength of typing "analog" keyboard", PC Watch , 5 June 2015 (2015-06-05), pages 1-6, XP055599157, Retrieved from the Internet: URL:https://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/ne ws/event/705651.html
  
Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


Description

Technical Field



[0001] The present invention relates to a keyboard threshold change apparatus and a keyboard in which thresholds of the ON-sensing positions of the respective keys in a key group can be changed.

Background Art



[0002] As keyboards for playing battle games using personal computers, keyboards having an illumination function (the key tops are illuminated in a dark environment) are preferably used. Quick operations are required during a game play, and some players prefer shorter keystrokes or the ON-sensing positions of keys (switches) (thresholds for determining the occurrence of a key press) higher (shallower) than a normal position. Further, specific keys are assigned individual functions, and therefore, it is desirable to set different ON-sensing positions for the respective keys.

[0003] JP 62-144220 A describes a capacitive keyboard including key switches for which an ON-sensing position for determining the occurrence of a key press can be changed.

[0004] US 2003/0208324 A1 discloses a keyboard with a mechanism for determining a pressure sensitivity needed to register a desired keystroke is disclosed.

[0005] JP 05189118 A discloses a keyboard device, wherein a key top is pushed down, a pressure measurement part measures the pressure of the key top and transmits the measured key pressure value to a push-down judgement part. The push-down judgement part compares the key pressure measured value with push-down judging reference pressure value. Corresponding to the comparison result, a key code is generated by the push-down judgement part and transmitted to an information processor.

[0006] US 2010/0148999 A1 discloses user configurable pressure sensitive keys and techniques for controlling these keys for keyboards. User configuration information, including information for user configurable granularity scales for pressure levels, can be communicated from a host system to the keyboard and stored for later use by a keyboard controller to control the operation of the pressure sensitive keys.

[0007] US 2005/0073446 A1 discloses a keyboard that is selectively illuminated to indicate an active portion. The active portion of a key, a set of keys, or the entire keyboard is illuminated, or optionally illuminated using different illumination intensity or color, to indicate the active input mode.

[0008] US 2007/0132735 A1 discloses a method which controls keys with an operating system to dynamically illuminate only valid keys that correspond to input requests of the currently selected application being currently displayed on the visual display.

[0009] US 2011/0074720 A1 discloses a keyboard including an information display unit formed with a flexible material; an information input unit provided at a back of the information display unit and including keys onto which input of data is performed with a pressing-down process involving a deformation of the information display unit; and a control unit adapted to perform control processing of display information supplied to the information display unit, and key setting processing such that a key of the information input unit at a position corresponding to a data input portion contained in the display information is set as an information input key corresponding to the displayed data input portion.

[0010] US 2007/0182716 A1 discloses a mobile phone, which is arranged for displaying on the display screen a plurality of parameters representations, each one of these parameters representations including: an identification of the parameter; and an indication of what particular activable element or elements are to be used for changing the value of the parameter.

Summary of Invention


Technical Problem



[0011] In JP 62-144220 A, however, it is possible to only collectively change the key ON-sensing position for all keys of the keyboard, and it is not possible to change the on-sensing position for each key. In a case where an identification device (circuit) in JP 62-144220 A is provided for each key, the ON-sensing positions can be individually changed. However, the number of keys is large, and it is troublesome for the user to change and check the thresholds.

[0012] Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide a keyboard threshold change apparatus and a keyboard in which thresholds of the ON-sensing positions of the keys can be individually changed and the thresholds can be checked with illumination colors.

Solution to Problem



[0013] To achieve the object described above, the invention provides a keyboard threshold change apparatus according to claim 1 and a keyboard according to claim 5.

[0014] The keyboard threshold change apparatus includes: a keyboard that includes an illumination unit illuminating key tops of a plurality of keys and a threshold change unit capable of changing, for each key among the keys, a threshold used to determine an occurrence of a press of the key; and a computer that is connected to the keyboard and that includes an input unit used to input the threshold and an image output unit outputting the threshold input with the input unit as an image, in which when the threshold for a key among the keys is changed with the input unit, the threshold change unit changes, on the basis of the changed threshold for the key from the computer, a threshold for the key in the keyboard, and the illumination unit changes an illumination color of the key for which the threshold is changed to a color corresponding to the threshold.

[0015] Further, the keyboard includes: an illumination unit that illuminates key tops of a plurality of keys; and a threshold change unit that is capable of changing, for each key among the keys, a threshold used to determine an occurrence of a press of the key, in which when the threshold for a key among the keys is changed by the threshold change unit, the illumination unit changes an illumination color of the key for which the threshold is changed to a color corresponding to the threshold.

Advantageous Effects of Invention



[0016] In the keyboard threshold change apparatus according to the present invention, when the threshold for a key is changed with the input unit of the computer, the threshold change unit changes, on the basis of the changed threshold for the key from the computer, a threshold for the key in the keyboard, and the illumination unit changes the illumination color of the key for which the threshold is changed to a color corresponding to the threshold. Accordingly, the thresholds of the ON-sensing positions of the keys can be individually changed. Further, the thresholds of the ON-sensing positions in the keyboard are indicated by the illumination colors in the keyboard, and therefore, the user can check which key has which threshold when looking at the keyboard.

Brief Description of Drawings



[0017] 

[Fig. 1] Fig. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a configuration of a keyboard according to a first embodiment of the present invention.

[Fig. 2] Fig. 2 is a block diagram illustrating a configuration of a personal computer connected to the keyboard according to the first embodiment.

[Fig. 3] Fig. 3 is a flowchart illustrating key input control by the keyboard according to the first embodiment of the present invention.

[Fig. 4] Fig. 4 is a state transition diagram illustrating mode changes in a keyboard program of the personal computer according to the first embodiment.

[Fig. 5] Fig. 5 is a flowchart illustrating processing in a key ON-sensing position change mode according to the first embodiment.

[Fig. 6] Fig. 6 is a diagram illustrating an example screen of a program for changing ON positions in the keyboard according to the first embodiment.

[Fig. 7] Fig. 7 is a flowchart illustrating ON-sensing position change control by the keyboard according to the first embodiment.

[Fig. 8] Fig. 8 is a flowchart illustrating key input control by the keyboard according to a modification of the first embodiment of the present invention.

[Fig. 9] Fig. 9 is a diagram illustrating in detail a key switch unit of the keyboard according to the present invention.


Description of Embodiments



[0018] Hereinafter, embodiments of a keyboard threshold change apparatus and a keyboard according to the present invention will be described in detail with reference to the drawings. Fig. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a configuration of a keyboard according to a first embodiment of the present invention. The keyboard threshold change apparatus according to the present invention is constituted by a keyboard 1 and a personal computer (PC) 3 that is connected to the keyboard 1.

(Configuration of Keyboard 1)



[0019] The keyboard 1 determines the occurrence of a key press on the basis of a change in a capacitance (analog value), and changes a threshold used to determine the occurrence of a key press to thereby change the ON-sensing position of the key. The keyboard 1 includes a keyboard control unit 2, a key group 10, a key-scan detection unit 11, a memory unit 12A, a key-scan control unit 14, a key capacitance detection unit 15, a press determination unit 16, an illumination LED 17, an LED light-emission unit 18, an illumination light-emission control unit 19, and a communication control unit 21. The keyboard control unit 2 controls the memory unit 12A, the key-scan control unit 14, the press determination unit 16, the illumination light-emission control unit 19, and the communication control unit 21 in the keyboard 1.

[0020] The key group 10 includes keys in m rows and n columns as an electrical circuit. Each key in the key group 10 is formed of a key switch unit 103. The key switch unit 103 is constituted by a capacitive key switch 104 and the illumination LED 17. Fig. 9 is an exploded view of one key switch unit 103 to show the structure of the key switch unit 103. The key switch 104 includes a key top 105, a plunger 107, a rubber member 109, a housing 111, a plate not illustrated, a spring 117, and a substrate 119. The key top 105 moves up and down when subjected to pressing force from an operator. The plunger 107 is engaged with a lower part of the key top 105 and moves up and down together with the key top 105. The rubber member 109 is arranged on the lower side of the plunger 107 and supports the plunger 107 from below. The housing 111 is arranged on the circumferential side of the plunger 107 and the rubber member 109. The plate is supported by the housing 111 and extends in the lateral direction. The spring 117 is arranged on the lower side of the rubber member 109. When the key top 105 is pressed, the spring 117 yields, and a capacitance formed between the spring 117 and an electrode 120 changes to thereby detect the press.

[0021] The illumination LED 17 corresponds to an illumination unit of the present invention. The illumination LED 17 is mounted on the substrate 119, is an integrated three-color LED of blue, red, and green arranged in the vicinity of the key switch 104, and illuminates a letter on the key top 105. Note that, in Fig. 1, the illumination LED 17 is included in the LED light-emission unit 18. The illumination light-emission control unit 19 controls the illumination LED 17 in accordance with illumination color reference data in an illumination color reference area of a RAM 13. The actual issuance colors of the LED light-emission unit 18 are three colors, namely, blue, green, and red.

[0022] The memory unit 12A is constituted by a nonvolatile memory 12 formed of a flash memory and the random access memory (RAM) 13. In the nonvolatile memory 12, threshold data, threshold reference data, and the illumination color reference data are saved in advance in a threshold illumination-color saving area. That is, in the nonvolatile memory 12, threshold data for a key ON-sensing position is saved in advance for each of the keys in m rows and n columns in the key group 10.

[0023] The threshold data includes thresholds of the ON-sensing positions of the keys, and the number of thresholds is equal to three times the number of keys (thresholds corresponding to shallow, medium, and deep keystrokes and used to determine a key press). The threshold reference data includes information indicating which of the three thresholds is selected (a shallow, medium, or deep keystroke). The illumination color reference data includes color information about three colors (blue, green, and red), and color data associated with the three thresholds, specifically, color data indicating that "shallow" is expressed by blue, "medium" is expressed by green, and "deep" is expressed by red, is saved. At the time of start-up, the threshold data, the threshold reference data, and the illumination color reference data in the threshold illumination-color saving area of the nonvolatile memory 12 are transferred to the RAM 13.

[0024] In the RAM 13, the threshold data (including thresholds for the number of keys × 3), the threshold reference data, and the illumination color reference data transferred from the nonvolatile memory 12 are saved in a threshold editing change area 13a, a threshold reference area 13b, and an illumination color reference area 13c respectively. The threshold editing change area 13a is an area in which three types of thresholds are saved for the number of keys. The threshold reference area 13b is an area in which information indicating which of the three thresholds is selected for each key is saved. The illumination color reference area 13c is an area in which color data corresponding to the selected threshold is saved for each key.

[0025] The keyboard control unit (CPU) 2 controls the entire keyboard 1 and collectively performs key input control described below and keyboard control in an ON-position change mode or an illumination color change mode of a keyboard change program.

[0026] The key-scan control unit 14 selects a target key address in the key group 10 and detects the threshold data at a memory address corresponding to the selected target key address from the RAM 13. The key-scan detection unit 11 continuously scans the key group 10 and detects the key address selected by the key-scan control unit 14. The key capacitance detection unit 15 detects and outputs to the press determination unit 16 the capacitance of a key at the key address detected by the key-scan detection unit 11. Further, the key-scan control unit 14 outputs the selected key address described above to the keyboard control unit 2. The keyboard control unit 2 reads, on the basis of data, in the threshold reference area 13c of the RAM 13, indicating which threshold ("shallow", "medium", or "deep") is selected for the selected key, a corresponding threshold from the threshold editing change area 13a as the threshold for the key, and outputs the threshold to the press determination unit 16.

[0027] The press determination unit 16 determines that a key press occurs (key on) in a case where a voltage from the key capacitance detection unit 15 is equal to or higher than the threshold or determines that a key press does not occur (key off) in a case where the voltage is lower than the threshold, and outputs key press occurrence data to the communication control unit 21. The communication control unit 21 communicates with the PC 3 and is formed of a general USB interface.

(Configuration of PC 3)



[0028] Now, the configuration of the PC 3 is described with reference to Fig. 2. The PC 3 includes a communication control unit 31, a PC control unit 32, a hard disk 33, a memory unit 34, a display control unit 35, a display unit 36, an input control unit 37, and a mouse 38. That is, the PC 3 is a general-purpose personal computer, and the operating system (OS) is, for example, Windows (registered trademark) having a multitask function and a graphical user interface (GUI) function.

[0029] The PC control unit 32 is formed of a CPU and controls each unit in the PC 3. The communication control unit 31 is formed of a USB interface via which communication with the keyboard 1 is performed. In the hard disk 33, a keyboard program 39 is saved. The PC control unit 32 reads and executes the keyboard program 39. The threshold data, the threshold reference data, the illumination color reference data, and so on can be written to and read from the hard disk 33.

[0030] The memory unit 34 has a threshold editing change area 34a in which the threshold data is saved, a threshold reference area 34b in which the threshold reference data is saved, and an illumination color reference area 34c in which the illumination color reference data is saved. By the keyboard program 39, values saved in these three areas are always kept identical to values saved in the threshold editing change area 13a, the threshold reference area 13b, and the illumination color reference area 13c of the memory unit 12A of the keyboard.

[0031] The display control unit 35 controls the display unit 36. The display unit 36 corresponds to an image output unit of the present invention. The display unit 36 displays thresholds read from the memory unit 34 and displays thresholds changed with the mouse 38. The user changes a threshold for the keyboard 1 and checks the result of change while looking at the screen of the display unit 36.

[0032] The display unit 36 is generally called a display and, when the threshold for a key is changed with the mouse 38, displays an image of the key in a color the same as the illumination color of the key changed in the keyboard 1. Further, the display unit 36 receives a key code from the keyboard 1 and displays the image of the key in a color the same as a color other than the illumination color of the key changed by the illumination LED 17.

[0033] The mouse 38 corresponds to an input unit of the present invention. The mouse 38 is used to input a threshold and change a threshold. The input control unit 37 simultaneously outputs a threshold input with the mouse 38 to the display unit 36 via the display control unit 35. Accordingly, the user can operate the mouse 38 to change a threshold while looking at the screen of the display unit 36. Instead of the mouse 38, the user may use a touch panel interface placed on the surface of the screen and input a threshold by touching the screen.

(Input Processing by Keyboard 1)



[0034] Now, operations of the keyboard and the keyboard threshold change apparatus of the first embodiment thus configured are described. First, a key input function of the keyboard 1 is described with reference to Fig. 3.

[0035] The keyboard 1 according to the first embodiment has a function similar to that of typical keyboards, that is, a function of transmitting, in response to key input, a key code corresponding to the key input to the PC 3. First, when the keyboard 1 is connected to an USB port of the PC 3 and is supplied with power, the threshold data saved in the threshold illumination-color saving area of the nonvolatile memory 12 is copied to the threshold editing change area 13a of the RAM 13 in accordance with a control program not illustrated. Further, the threshold reference data is copied to the threshold reference area 13b, and the illumination color reference data is copied to the illumination color reference area 13c (step S11). Accordingly, the keyboard 1 is ready for use.

[0036] Next, n is set to 1 (step S12), where n represents the n-th key. Next, the key-scan control unit 14 outputs to the key-scan detection unit 11 an instruction for scanning the n-th key among the first to (N × M)-th keys.

[0037] The key-scan detection unit 11 scans the n-th key, and the key capacitance detection unit 15 detects the capacitance (Cin value) of the n-th key and outputs the capacitance value to the press determination unit 16 (step S13). In accordance with an instruction from the key-scan control unit 14, the press determination unit 16 reads the threshold data (Cth value) that corresponds to the threshold reference data ("shallow", "medium", or "deep") for the n-th key from the threshold editing change area of the memory unit 13, and outputs the threshold data to the press determination unit 16 (step S14).

[0038] The press determination unit 16 compares the capacitance, namely, the Cin value, with the threshold data, namely, the Cth value, and determines whether a key press occurs (step S15). In a case of Cin ≥ Cth, it is determined that a key press occurs. In a case of Cin < Cth, it is determined that a key press does not occur. Further, the press determination unit 16 outputs press occurrence data for the n-th key to the keyboard control unit 2.

[0039] The keyboard control unit 2 generates a key code corresponding to the key that is determined to be pressed on the basis of the press occurrence data for the n-th key from the press determination unit 16 (step S16). The key code is obtained by referring to a data conversion table (not illustrated) for converting a pressed key to a key code. The keyboard control unit 2 transmits the key code to the PC 3 via the communication control unit 21 (step S17).

[0040] Subsequently, n is incremented by 1 (step S18), and it is determined whether n is equal to or smaller than (N × M) n is equal to or smaller than (N × M) (step S19). If n is equal to or smaller than (N × M), the flow returns to step S13, and the process in step S13 and the subsequent steps is repeated. If n exceeds (N × M), n is set to 1 (step S20), the flow returns to step S13, and the process in step S13 and the subsequent steps is repeated.

[0041] Note that the processing described above is simultaneously performed by the multitask function even while control described below (ON-position set mode), etc. is performed.

[0042] As described above, in the keyboard according to the first embodiment, the threshold data for determining the occurrence of a key press is set for each of the plurality of keys, and the press determination unit 16 compares the capacitance, namely, the Cin value, with the threshold data, namely, the Cth value, to determine the occurrence of a key press. That is, the occurrence of a key press is determined, and when the threshold for determining the occurrence of a key press is changed, the ON-sensing position of the key can be changed.

(Processing by Keyboard Program in PC 3)



[0043] Now, processing by the keyboard program 39 in the PC 3 is described. The PC control unit 32 loads the keyboard program 39 saved in the hard disk 33 to the memory unit 34 and executes the keyboard program 39. The keyboard program 39 is software for Windows and uses the GUI, with which the user can change a threshold, etc. for the keyboard 1 by operating the mouse 38 while looking at the display unit 36.

[0044] The program 39 has at least two modes, namely, the illumination color change mode and the ON-position change mode as illustrated in Fig. 4, and one of the modes is selected by a click operation with the mouse 38. When the mouse 38 is used to click on an ON-position change 40 on the screen illustrated in Fig. 6, the mode transitions to the ON-position change mode. When the mouse 38 is used to click on an illumination color change 41 on the screen illustrated in Fig. 6, the mode transitions to the illumination color change mode. The illumination color change mode is a mode in which the illumination color of the key top 105 can be changed for each key while the keyboard 1 is normally used. Here, the ON-position change mode, which is a feature of the present invention, is mainly described.

[0045] When the ON-position change mode is selected, the PC control unit 32 transfers and copies, via the communication control unit 31, the threshold data saved in the threshold editing change area 13a of the RAM 13 of the keyboard 1, the threshold reference data in the threshold reference area 13b, and the illumination color reference data in the illumination color reference area 13c to the threshold editing change area 34a, the threshold reference area 34b, and the illumination color reference area 34c of the memory unit 34 of the PC 3 respectively. Further, the PC control unit 32 refers to the threshold reference data and the illumination color reference data in the memory unit 34, reads color data (blue, green, and red) corresponding to thresholds ("shallow", "medium", and "deep"), and displays the thresholds on the screen in such a manner that, for example, a threshold "shallow" is displayed in blue (B), a threshold "medium" is displayed in green (G), and a threshold "deep" is displayed in red (R) as illustrated in Fig. 6 (step S31) .

[0046] The ON-position change mode of the keyboard program 39 is first selected. Here, when the user clicks on the ON-position change 40 with the mouse 38 while looking at the screen of the display unit 36, an image imitating the keyboard 1 to be changed is displayed on the screen as illustrated in Fig. 6.

[0047] In the ON-position change mode, a selection of a threshold can be made from the three-level thresholds of "shallow", "medium", and "deep" with the mouse 38 so as to facilitate user operations. For example, for a full keystroke of 4.0 mm, a selection can be made from among a threshold of a normal value of 2.2 mm, a threshold for a shallower keystroke of 1.5 mm, and a threshold for a deeper keystroke of 3.0 mm.

[0048] In the ON-position change mode, the user first uses the mouse 38 to select a selection button on the screen corresponding to a value ("shallow" (1.5 mm), "medium" (2.2 mm), or "deep" (3.0 mm)) to which a threshold is to be changed while looking at the screen of the display unit 36 (step S32). When a value is selected with the mouse 38, a threshold in the PC 3 is set to the value of "shallow", "medium", or "deep" (step S33).

[0049] Next, when the user moves the mouse pointer to a key 105a for which the value is to be set in the keyboard image on the screen illustrated in Fig. 6 and clicks on the key 105a with the mouse 38 (step S34), the threshold for the key is changed to the value selected previously ("shallow", "medium", or "deep") (changed by software). That is, at the time of the click, the threshold reference data for the specified key in the threshold reference area 34b of the memory unit 34 of the PC 3 is changed to the threshold in the PC (step S35) .

[0050] At the same time, the color of the key on the screen is changed to the corresponding color described above. That is, the illumination color reference data (color data) in the illumination color reference area 34c corresponding to the changed threshold reference data in the threshold reference area 34b is transmitted to the display control unit 35, and the color on the screen is changed. Accordingly, the user can recognize that the threshold has been changed by software (in the PC).

[0051] Further, this information (identification information of the key (indicating which key is the changed key) and the changed value (the value of "shallow", "medium", or "deep") is transmitted to the keyboard 1 via the communication control unit 31 (step S36). That is, when the user only clicks on a key without performing, on the keyboard 1, a special operation for deciding to change a threshold, a change is made to the key.

[0052] Further, to change the color of the clicked key to the color corresponding to the changed threshold, the illumination color reference data is referred to on the basis of the threshold reference data (step S37). The key is displayed on the screen in a color indicated by the illumination color reference data (step S38).

[0053] In a case where the user wants to change another key, the user clicks on the key, so that the user can change the threshold to the value selected previously. When the user selects another threshold by using a selection button and clicks on a key to be changed, the threshold for the key is changed to the selected threshold.

[0054] In the ON-sensing position change mode, when a key code is transmitted from the keyboard 1, the PC 3 changes the color of the key on the screen corresponding to the code to a color (for example, white) other than the above-described colors, and the display unit 36 displays the key on the screen corresponding to the code in the color (for example, white) other than the above-described colors. Note that this process is not illustrated in Fig. 5.

[0055] If the ON-sensing position change is completed (Yes in step S39), all the changes are saved as a file in, for example, the hard disk (steps S40 and S41), and the processing ends. Note that the saving is performed as desired. When the keyboard program is executed next time, the set values are transferred from the keyboard 1, and the processing starts.

(Processing by Keyboard 1 in ON-Sensing Position Change Mode)



[0056] Now, processing by the keyboard 1 in the ON-position change mode is described with reference to the flowchart illustrated in Fig. 7. When the PC 3 is in the ON-position change mode of the keyboard program 39, the keyboard 1 performs the following processing.

[0057] Note that, while the processing is performed, the input processing by the keyboard 1 is simultaneously performed by the multitask function. At the time of start-up of the keyboard 1, the threshold data, the threshold reference data, and the illumination color reference data saved in the nonvolatile memory 12 are copied to the threshold editing change area 13a, the threshold reference area 13b, and the illumination color reference area 13c of the RAM 13 (step S51).

[0058] Next, when the keyboard program 39 of the PC 3 is executed (step S52), the keyboard control unit 2 transmits, in response to a request from the PC 3, all of the threshold data saved in the threshold editing change area 13a of the keyboard 1, the threshold reference data in the threshold reference area 13b, and the illumination color reference data in the illumination color reference area 13c to the PC 3 via the communication control unit 21 for copying to the threshold editing change area 34a, the threshold reference area 34b, and the illumination color reference area 34c (step S53).

[0059] Further, if the keyboard program 39 is changed to the ON-position change mode from the other mode and change information (identification information of a key and a changed value) for changing a threshold arrives from the PC 3 via the communication control unit 21 (YES in step S54), the keyboard control unit 2 changes the threshold reference data in the RAM 13 on the basis of the change information (step S55). When the threshold reference data is saved, the threshold reference data is changed as a new threshold and is used to determine whether a key press occurs.

[0060] That is, when a threshold is changed on the PC 3, in other words, when a mouse click operation is performed on the screen, the threshold change is immediately reflected to the keyboard 1. The keyboard control unit 2 changes the threshold reference data, and data to be referred to in the illumination color reference data in the illumination color reference area is changed accordingly (step S56). As a result, the illumination color of the key top 105 is changed. Consequently, the user knows for which key the threshold is changed to which value when looking at the keyboard 1.

[0061] Further, the keyboard control unit 2 controls the illumination light-emission control unit 19 so that the illumination LED 17 emits light on the basis of color data (blue indicates "shallow", green indicates "medium", and red indicates "deep") of a color the same as the color set in the PC 3 in accordance with the illumination color reference data in the illumination color reference area. The illumination light-emission control unit 19 refers to the illumination color reference data (color data) on the basis of the threshold reference data (the value of the threshold for each key) and controls light emission by the LED light-emission unit 18.

[0062] The illumination LED 17 emits blue light, green light, or red light (step S57). That is, the illumination LED 17 of three colors provided for each key can illuminate the letter on the key top. Accordingly, the user knows for which key the threshold is (currently) set to which value when looking at the keyboard 1.

[0063] Further, the threshold reference data and the illumination color reference data that have been changed are saved in the RAM 13, and therefore, are lost when power is shut off. In a case where the user wants to reproduce the threshold reference data and the illumination color reference data in this state at the time of the next start-up, a function (command) of a program of the PC 3 is used to save the threshold reference data and the illumination color reference data in the nonvolatile memory 12 (see step S41 in Fig. 5), and the threshold reference data and the illumination color reference data are recovered at the time of the next start-up (see step S11 in Fig. 3).

(Input Processing by Keyboard in ON-Sensing Position Change Mode)



[0064] In the ON-position change mode, input processing by the keyboard can be performed in accordance with the flowchart illustrated in Fig. 8. To the flowchart illustrated in Fig. 8, the process of steps S17a and S17b, which is not included in the flowchart illustrated in Fig. 3, is added. Therefore, the process in steps S17a and S17b is mainly described.

[0065] If the user presses a key (YES in step S15), the keyboard 1 generates a key code corresponding to the key and transmits the key code to the PC 3, and the pressed key top is illuminated in, for example, white, that is, a color other than blue, green, and red (step S17a). Accordingly, the user can know that the key is pressed from the change in color.

[0066] That is, in a case where the user changes the threshold and presses the key immediately after the change, the user can physically experience the pressing state of the key with the threshold. The key code of the pressed key is transmitted to the PC 3, and therefore, the user can check the press state of the key by software (with screen display, etc.) .

[0067] If the user does not press a key (NO in step S15), the key is illuminated in an illumination color the same as the color corresponding to the threshold reference data (step S17b), and the flow proceeds to step S18.

[0068] As described above, in the keyboard threshold change apparatus and the keyboard according to the embodiment, the thresholds of the ON-sensing positions of the keys are indicated by the illumination colors in the keyboard 1, and therefore, the user can check which key has which threshold (position and value) when looking at the keyboard 1. The thresholds are indicated not by numerical values (1.5 mm, etc.) or text (high, medium, and low) but by colors, and therefore, the user can easily recognize the thresholds.

[0069] When the threshold of an ON-sensing position in the keyboard 1 is changed by the program 39 of the PC 3 (by a click), the changed threshold is immediately indicated as a change in color, that is, the illumination color in the keyboard 1 is changed. Therefore, the user can immediately check the position of the changed key and the changed threshold.

[0070] Further, when the threshold of an ON-sensing position in the keyboard 1 is changed by the program 39 of the PC 3, the illumination color of the changed key is immediately changed on the screen of the PC 3, and the color is the same as the illumination color in the keyboard 1. Therefore, a misunderstanding arising from the screen display and the actual object (keyboard) can be prevented.

[0071] Further, when the threshold of an ON-sensing position in the keyboard 1 is changed by the keyboard program 39 of the PC 3, the press determination unit 16 of the keyboard 1 immediately determines whether the key is pressed on the basis of the threshold. When the user presses the key and the press determination unit 16 determines that the key is pressed, the illumination color of the key changes from the previous color. Therefore, the user can physically experience the ON-sensing position and can immediately make a correction if the ON-sensing position is different from the intended position.

[0072] Further, when the threshold of an ON-sensing position in the keyboard 1 is changed by the keyboard program 39 of the PC 3, the press determination unit 16 of the keyboard 1 immediately determines whether the key is pressed on the basis of the threshold. When the user presses the key and the press determination unit 16 determines that the key is pressed, the illumination color of the key changes, and the key on the screen of the PC 3 is displayed in a color the same as the illumination color of the key. Therefore, the user can check the key press with both the screen of the PC 3 and the keyboard 1.

[0073] Further, the illumination colors can be individually changed by a program of the PC 3 or the keyboard 1.

(Other Embodiments)



[0074] Note that the present invention described above relates to a keyboard having capacitive key switches; however, the keyboard need not be a capacitive keyboard. The keyboard 1 may be any keyboard as long as the keyboard is an analog input device that includes switches for which thresholds can be set and from which the occurrence of a press (on/off) can be output. For example, the keyboard can be constituted by switches of various types including a pressure-sensitive type, an electrical resistance type, a magnetism-sensitive type, an ultrasonic type, and an optical type. Further, the keyboard program need not be a program for Windows and may be a program for any OS as long as the OS has a GUI.

[0075] Further, the embodiment describes the example where the threshold is selected from three types; however, the threshold is not limited to this. The threshold may be selected from four or five types or more than five types as long as the user can recognize differences in color. Further, as described above, the input unit is not limited to the mouse and may be a touch panel or a touch pad. Further, the keyboard 1 can be used as the input unit. This can be realized by, for example, using two arrow keys (the up arrow key and the down arrow key) of the keyboard to select a threshold and using the four arrow keys to select a key from the key image on the screen.

Reference Signs List



[0076] 
1
keyboard
2
keyboard control unit
3
personal computer (PC)
10
key group
11
key-scan detection unit
12A
memory unit
12
nonvolatile memory
13
random access memory (RAM)
14
key-scan control unit
15
key capacitance detection unit
16
press determination unit
17
illumination LED
18
LED light-emission unit
19
illumination light-emission control unit
21, 31
communication control unit
32
PC control unit
33
hard disk
34
memory unit
35
display control unit
36
display unit
37
input control unit
38
mouse
39
program
103
key switch unit
105
key top
105a
key (image)
107
plunger
109
rubber member
111
housing
115
spacer
117
spring



Claims

1. A keyboard threshold change apparatus comprising:

a keyboard (1) that includes an illumination unit (17) illuminating key tops (105) of a plurality of keys and a threshold change unit (2) capable of changing, for each key among the keys, a threshold used to determine an occurrence of a press of the key; and

a computer (3) that is connected to the keyboard (1) and that includes an input unit (38) used to input the threshold and an image output unit (36) outputting the threshold input with the input unit (38) as an image, wherein

the illumination unit (17) illuminates the key tops (105) in accordance with the threshold,

when the threshold for a key among the keys is changed with the input unit (38), the threshold change unit (2) changes, on the basis of the changed threshold for the key from the computer (3), a threshold for the key in the keyboard (1), and

the illumination unit (17) changes an illumination color of the key for which the threshold is changed to a color corresponding to the threshold.


 
2. The keyboard threshold change apparatus according to Claim 1, wherein when the threshold for the key is changed with the input unit (38), the image output unit (36) displays an image (105a) of the key in a color the same as the illumination color of the key changed in the keyboard (1).
 
3. The keyboard threshold change apparatus according to Claim 1 or 2, wherein

the keyboard (1) further includes a press determination unit (16) that, after the threshold for the key has been changed with the input unit (38), determines an occurrence of a press of the key and, in a case where a press of the key occurs, outputs a key code of the pressed key to the computer (5), and

in a case where the press determination unit (16) outputs the key code to the computer (3), the illumination unit (17) changes the illumination color of the key to a color other than the changed illumination color of the key.


 
4. The keyboard threshold change apparatus according to Claim 3, wherein the image output unit (36) displays, on the basis of the key code from the keyboard (1), the image (105a) of the key in a color the same as the color other than the illumination color of the key changed by the illumination unit (17).
 
5. A keyboard comprising:

an illumination unit (17) that illuminates key tops (105) of a plurality of keys; and

a threshold change unit (2) that is capable of changing, for each key among the keys, a threshold used to determine an occurrence of a press of the key, wherein

the illumination unit (17) illuminates the key tops (105) in accordance with the threshold,

when the threshold for a key among the keys is changed by the threshold change unit (2), the illumination unit (17) changes an illumination color of the key for which the threshold is changed to a color corresponding to the threshold.


 
6. The keyboard according to Claim 5, further comprising

a press determination unit (16) that, when the threshold for the key is changed by the threshold change unit (2), determines an occurrence of a press of the key and, in a case where a press of the key occurs, outputs a key code of the pressed key, wherein

the illumination unit (17) changes the illumination color of the key to a color other than the changed illumination color of the key.


 


Ansprüche

1. Tastaturschwellenwertänderungsvorrichtung, welche aufweist:

eine Tastatur (1), die eine Beleuchtungseinheit (17) enthält, die Tastenoberseiten (105) mehrerer Tasten beleuchtet, sowie eine Schwellenwertänderungseinheit (2), die in der Lage ist, für jede Taste unter den Tasten einen Schwellenwert zu ändern, der zur Bestimmung eines Auftretens eines Drucks auf die Taste dient; und

einen Computer (3), der mit der Tastatur (1) verbunden ist und der eine Eingabeeinheit (38) enthält, die dazu dient, den Schwellenwert einzugeben, sowie eine Bildausgabeeinheit (36), die den mit der Eingabeeinheit (38) eingegebenen Schwellenwert als Bild ausgibt, wobei die Beleuchtungseinheit (17) die Tastenoberseiten (105) gemäß dem Schwellenwert beleuchtet,

wenn der Schwellenwert für eine Taste unter den Tasten mit der Eingabeeinheit (38) geändert wird, die Schwellenwertänderungseinheit (2), auf der Basis des geänderten Schwellenwerts für die Taste von dem Computer (3), einen Schwellenwert für die Taste in der Tastatur (1) ändert, und

die Beleuchtungseinheit (17) eine Beleuchtungsfarbe der Taste, für die der Schwellenwert geändert wird, zu einer dem Schwellenwert entsprechenden Farbe ändert.


 
2. Die Tastaturschwellenwertänderungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1, wobei, wenn der Schwellenwert für die Taste mit der Eingabeeinheit (38) geändert wird, die Bildausgabeeinheit (36) ein Bild (105a) der Taste in einer Farbe anzeigt, die die gleiche ist wie die in der Tastatur (1) geänderte Beleuchtungsfarbe der Taste.
 
3. Die Tastaturschwellenwertänderungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 1 oder 2, wobei die Tastatur (1) ferner eine Druckbestimmungseinheit (16) enthält, die nachdem der Schwellenwert für die Taste mit der Eingabeeinheit (38) geändert worden ist, das Auftreten eines Drucks auf die Taste bestimmt, und, falls ein Druck auf die Taste auftritt, einen Tastencode der gedrückten Taste an den Computer (5) ausgibt, und
falls die Druckbestimmungseinheit (16) den Tastencode an den Computer (3) ausgibt, die Beleuchtungseinheit (17) die Beleuchtungsfarbe der Taste auf eine Farbe ändert, die anders ist als die geänderte Beleuchtungsfarbe der Taste.
 
4. Die Tastaturschwellenwertänderungsvorrichtung nach Anspruch 3, wobei die Bildausgabeeinheit (36), auf der Basis des Tastencodes von der Tastatur (1), das Bild (105a) der Taste in einer Farbe anzeigt, die die gleiche ist wie die Farbe, die anders ist als die von der Beleuchtungseinheit (17) geänderte Beleuchtungsfarbe der Taste.
 
5. Tastatur, welche aufweist:

eine Beleuchtungseinheit (17), die Tastenoberseiten (105) mehrerer Tasten beleuchtet; und

eine Schwellenwertänderungseinheit (2), die in der Lage ist, für jede Taste unter den Tasten einen Schwellenwert zu ändern, der zur Bestimmung des Auftretens eines Drucks auf die Taste dient, wobei

die Beleuchtungseinheit (17) die Tastenoberseiten (105) gemäß dem Schwellenwert beleuchtet,

wobei, wenn der Schwellenwert für eine Taste unter den Tasten mit der Schwellenwertänderungseinheit (2) geändert wird, die Beleuchtungseinheit (17) eine Beleuchtungsfarbe der Taste, für die der Schwellenwert geändert wird, auf eine dem Schwellenwert entsprechende Farbe ändert.


 
6. Die Tastatur nach Anspruch 5, die ferner aufweist:
eine Druckbestimmungseinheit (16), die, wenn der Schwellenwert für die Taste mit der Schwellenwertänderungseinheit (2) geändert wird, das Auftreten eines Drucks auf die Taste bestimmt, und, falls ein Druck auf die Taste auftritt, einen Schlüsselcode der gedrückten Taste ausgibt, wobei die Beleuchtungseinheit (17) die Beleuchtungsfarbe der Taste auf eine Farbe ändert, die anders ist als die geänderte Beleuchtungsfarbe der Taste.
 


Revendications

1. Appareil de modification de seuil de clavier comprenant :

un clavier (1) qui inclut une unité d'éclairage (17), qui éclaire les dessus de touches (105) d'une pluralité de touches, et une unité de modification de seuil (2) apte à modifier, pour chaque touche parmi les touches, un seuil utilisé pour déterminer l'occurrence d'une pression sur la touche ; et

un ordinateur (3) qui est connecté au clavier (1) et qui inclut une unité d'entrée (38) utilisée pour entrer le seuil, et une unité de sortie d'image (36) fournissant en sortie le seuil entré avec l'unité d'entrée (38) sous la forme d'une image, dans lequel

l'unité d'éclairage (17) éclaire les dessus de touches (105) selon le seuil ;

lorsque le seuil pour une touche parmi les touches est modifié avec l'unité d'entrée (38), l'unité de modification de seuil (2) modifie, sur la base du seuil modifié pour la touche de l'ordinateur (3), un seuil pour la touche dans le clavier (1) ; et

l'unité d'éclairage (17) modifie une couleur d'éclairage, de la touche pour laquelle le seuil est modifié, en une couleur correspondant au seuil.


 
2. Appareil de modification de seuil de clavier selon la revendication 1, dans lequel, lorsque le seuil pour la touche est modifié avec l'unité d'entrée (38), l'unité de sortie d'image (36) affiche une image (105a) de la touche dans une couleur identique à la couleur d'éclairage de la touche modifiée dans le clavier (1).
 
3. Appareil de modification de seuil de clavier selon la revendication 1 ou 2, dans lequel :

le clavier (1) inclut en outre une unité de détermination de pression (16) qui, après que le seuil pour la touche a été modifié avec l'unité d'entrée (38), détermine une occurrence d'une pression sur la touche, et, dans un cas où une pression sur la touche se produit, fournit en sortie un code de touche de la touche pressée, à l'ordinateur (5) ; et

dans le cas où l'unité de détermination de pression (16) fournit en sortie le code de touche à l'ordinateur (3), l'unité d'éclairage (17) modifie la couleur d'éclairage de la touche, en une couleur distincte de la couleur d'éclairage modifiée de la touche.


 
4. Appareil de modification de seuil de clavier selon la revendication 3, dans lequel l'unité de sortie d'image (36) affiche, sur la base du code de touche provenant du clavier (1), l'image (105a) de la touche, dans une couleur identique à la couleur distincte de la couleur d'éclairage de la touche modifiée par l'unité d'éclairage (17).
 
5. Clavier comprenant :

une unité d'éclairage (17) qui éclaire des dessus de touches (105) d'une pluralité de touches ; et

une unité de modification de seuil (2) qui est en mesure de modifier, pour chaque touche parmi les touches, un seuil utilisé pour déterminer l'occurrence d'une pression sur la touche, dans laquelle

l'unité d'éclairage (17) éclaire les dessus de touches (105) selon le seuil ;

lorsque le seuil pour une touche parmi les touches est modifié par l'unité de modification de seuil (2), l'unité d'éclairage (17) modifie une couleur d'éclairage, de la touche pour laquelle le seuil est modifié, en une couleur correspondant au seuil.


 
6. Clavier selon la revendication 5, comprenant en outre :

une unité de détermination de pression (16) qui, lorsque le seuil pour la touche est changé par l'unité de modification de seuil (2), détermine une occurrence d'une pression sur la touche et, dans un cas où une pression sur la touche se produit, fournit en sortie un code de touche de la touche pressée, dans laquelle

l'unité d'éclairage (17) modifie la couleur d'éclairage de la touche, en une couleur distincte de la couleur d'éclairage modifiée de la touche.


 




Drawing
































Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description