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Multi-position, multi-level user interface system

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Title: Multi-position, multi-level user interface system.
Abstract: A multi-positional, multi-level user interface system including a keyboard hinged over a base surface for a pointing device such as a mouse. The keyboard and base rotate relative to each other about a hinge axis to reveal the surface, providing a portable keyboard and pointing surface. A kickstand can support the keyboard above the base while in an open position. The keyboard and pointing device can be used with two hands with the system resting in a user's lap. The keyboard can also swivel about an axis other than the hinge axis. The keyboard can swivel 180 degrees for left-handed use, and can be positioned at other detent angles. A mouse can also be stowed on the base with a magnetic, friction, or other coupling. The interface system can further act as a communication hub for other peripheral devices, such as a joystick, to communicate with a computing device. ...

Inventors: Eric J. Hull, Jeffrey D. Allison, Tyrol R. Graham, Ryan T. Lane
USPTO Applicaton #: #20110074688 - Class: 345168 (USPTO) - 03/31/11 - Class 345 

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20110074688, Multi-position, multi-level user interface system.

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This is a divisional application that claims benefit of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/121,772 filed on May 4, 2005, which claims benefit of United States Provisional Application No. 60/569,187 filed on May 7, 2004, which is incorporated herein by reference.


1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to user interface systems, and more particularly, to a user interface system with multiple input and/or output devices that can be positioned at multiple orientations and at multiple distances relative to each other.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Computer keyboards, mice, keypads, and other user interface devices are typically separate from each other and used on a stationary surface such as desk. The mobile computer, commonly referred to as laptop, includes a plurality of interface devices such as, for example, a keyboard, touch pad, trackball, and/or cursor stick. Contrary to the desktop environment, these interface devices are integrated into the laptop housing and are not adjustable to accommodate a users comfort and/or ergonomics.

The laptop interface devices, such as the keys, cursor stick, and/or buttons usually can move relative to the laptop housing, but do not move separately from the laptop housing. Thus, the re-orientation of the laptop affects the orientation of the mouse and other separate interface devices. In the laptop environment the user has no adjustability of the interface devices to accommodate their comfort, preferences and their particular ergonomics.

With the age of wireless interface devices, users of desk based systems are still finding themselves constrained to the desk due to the inability to manage the multiple interface devices when not seated at the desk and use of these interfaces in the living room environment is particularly difficult.

It would therefore be desirable to provide a user interface system that allows adjustability of the multiple input devices with respect to both each other and the surface on which they are supported and not require the user to sit at a desk to manage the same. It would also be desirable to provide a user interface system that allows independent adjustability of multiple input devices to ergonomically accommodate any user.



It is an aspect of the invention to provide a user interface system that includes multiple input devices and allows for positional adjustment of each input device with respect to each other.

It is another aspect of the invention to provide an integrated keyboard and user interface system in such a way as to allow for couch or floor use.

It is another aspect of the invention to provide an integrated keyboard and user interface system that takes up as little space in width so it can be used virtually anywhere.

These and other aspects are achieved in accordance with an embodiment of the invention wherein the user interface system includes a base, a electronic keyboard pivotally coupled to the base, wherein the keyboard can rotate relative to the base to expose a surface of the base. A groove in opposing sides of the keyboard, along with a rotation guide limit the keyboards rotational movement in one plane about its rotation axis.

The keyboard can include at least one positioning mechanism to hold the keyboard in a rotated position relative to the keyboard support. A kickstand is provided that holds the keyboard in an open position relative to the base. The base provides a support surface for an electronic pointing device, such as, for example a mouse for communicating position information of the pointing device to a computing device.

A stowage coupler integrated into the keyboard support and/or the base functions to hold and secure a pointing device in a stowed location when not in use. A biometric sensor may also be provided on the keyboard for sensing a biological characteristic of a user for possible security applications.

According to another aspect of the invention, the electronic user interface includes a processor, a peripheral communication hub in communication with the processor, a keypad in communication with the processor, a keyboard housing holding the processor, the peripheral communication hub, and the keypad, and a base pivotally coupled to the keyboard housing such that the keyboard housing pivots relative to the base. The peripheral communication hub enables communication between at least one electronic peripheral device and a remote computing device.

A keyboard support is hinged between base and the keyboard and is adapted to support the keyboard housing. The hinged connection between the keyboard support and the base enables the keyboard housing to pivot relative to the base to expose a surface of the base.

Other aspects and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is to be understood, however, that the drawings are designed solely for purposes of illustration and not as a definition of the limits of the invention, for which reference should be made to the appended claims. It should be further understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that, unless otherwise indicated, they are merely intended to conceptually illustrate the structures and procedures described herein.


In the drawings wherein like reference numerals denote similar components throughout the views:

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of an exemplary work environment where the user interface system of the present invention may be used;

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