Omega Key [programmable smartphone display keyboard]

Date created
Devices are constantly getting smarter. Phones are improving, and household objects are embedded with microprocessors and sensors. Yet, the keyboard has remained largely unchanged from the 1986 IBM Model M keyboard. Early keyboards merely adopted designs from the typewriters of the 60's.Due to this stagnation, a deficiency has been identified in the traditional keyboard: keyboards are too static. There is no visual feedback from the keyboard (aside from a couple lights telling you if Numlock or Capslock is on). The same keyboard is used in the context of many different applications. The A key doesn't always input the letter 'a' into a textbox. In one situation, it may be used in combination with the control key to select all text; in another, it may move your virtual avatar to the left. It may even type 'q' if the French keyboard layout is used.Our objective is to design a dynamic display keyboard, called the OmegaKey (ΩKey), with reprogrammable controlled displays acting as labels on each key. The symbols displayed on the labels will change depending on the context of the user's application. We aim to redesign the keys and add small LCD screens to the top of each key. The screens will be connected and are controlled by a central microprocessor. This will all be connected to the computer by USB and function in place of a regular USB keyboard.The new visual provided by the displays aims to improve user efficiency and learning. When using shortcuts or typing with a different layout, the display will reduce the likelihood of mistakes. It also relieves the user from having to memorize associations between arbitrary letters and actions. As well, users may be exposed to useful new key shortcuts. The technology can be expanded to add extra buttons, which users can preconfigure to execute custom macros or functions.
Undergraduate Engineering students are required to complete a group-based, two-course capstone sequence: ENSC 405W and ENSC 440.  Groups form company structures and create an innovative product that potentially acts as a solution to a real-life problem.  This collection archives the following assignments: proposal, design specifications, requirements specifications, and proof of concept.
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Peer reviewed?