US 20090073004 A1
The present invention provides a trading keyboard that can be configured both physically and functionally according to a user's preferences. The trading keyboard preferably includes self-identifying key covers that can be physically arranged on any of the keyboard's key bases. Detection mechanisms included in the key bases detect the commands of the trading application associated with each self-identifying key cover. Therefore, the user may reposition the key covers on the keyboard according to the user's preferences, and yet retain the same functionality for the key covers. The user may also switch between keyboard modes that allow the keyboard to be functionally reconfigured. By selecting different modes, the user can chose between different keyboard mapping configurations that assign the functions of the trading application to the keys in different arrangements. The mode selection mechanism may also be used to select between different commands associated with a single key or key cover.
1. A keyboard comprising:
at least one numeric key that when struck transmits one of a plurality of signals to an application, wherein a first of the plurality of signals corresponds to a first number associated with the at least one numeric key and a second of the plurality of signals corresponds to a second number associated with at least one numeric key; and
a mode selection key selectable for selecting a state of the keyboard from a plurality of states, wherein in a first state, the at least one numeric key when struck transmits the first signal to the application and in a second state, the at least one numeric key when struck transmits the second signal to the application.
2. The keyboard of
3. The keyboard of
4. The keyboard of
5. The keyboard of
6. The keyboard of
This application is a divisional of co-pending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/856,159, filed Sep. 17, 2007, which is a continuation of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/569,991, filed May 10, 2004, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.
This invention relates to a fully configurable keyboard for use with electronic trading systems.
Trading keyboards are often used by financial professionals to enter and execute commands in a trading application. The financial professionals who use trading keyboards may use different keyboards extensively in their work and become accustomed to particular arrangements of the keys on the trading keyboards. The financial professionals may therefore develop different preferences for physical or functional arrangements of the keys. Therefore, a financial professional may be faced with an unfamiliar trading keyboard when, for example, using a different trading system or a change is made to the trading application implemented on a processor. Using an unfamiliar trading keyboard may lead to costly data entry mistakes by the financial professional. As a result, trades that were not intended may be processed and volumes of trading orders may be incorrectly executed. Conventional trading keyboards do not allow the financial professional to change the physical and/or functional arrangements of the keys therein.
Moreover, trading keyboards should accommodate all of the commands that may be associated with a trading application. However, if an individual key were assigned to each and every possible command, the trading keyboard would be large and unwieldy to use.
Therefore, there is a need for a trading keyboard in which the key arrangement may be physically configurable by a user.
There is also a need for a trading keyboard in which the key arrangement may be configurable by the user without implicating the trading application.
There is also a need for a trading keyboard in which the key arrangement is functionally configurable by the user such that each key of the keyboard may be associated with different commands in each configuration.
It is an object of the invention to provide a fully configurable trading keyboard capable of satisfying the above-identified needs.
In accordance with this and other objects of the invention, a trading keyboard that can be configured according to a user's preferences is provided. Users may use the configurable keyboard to enter different trading commands or other commands into a processor that implements a trading application configured to receive and apply such commands. The keyboard preferably includes self-identifying key covers that can be physically arranged on any of the keyboard's key bases according to a user's preferences. The key bases are capable of detecting the function associated with each self-identifying key cover. Different commands may be associated with such a function. Therefore, the user may reposition different key covers on the keyboard by placing the key covers on any available key bases, and yet retain the same functionality for the key covers. Accordingly, the keyboard is physically configurable—i.e., the arrangement of the keys on the keyboard may be physically changed while the function associated with each key remains the same. The keyboard may be physically configured without implicating the trading application used in conjunction with the keyboard.
In another aspect of the invention, the user may switch between functional configurations—i.e., keyboard modes—that allow each key to send commands associated with different functions to a trading application whenever a different mode is selected. The same mode mechanism may alternatively be used to select between multiple commands associated with a self-identifying key cover. The keyboard may be equipped with memory in order to store different keyboard configurations and/or other information. In addition, the keyboard may implement a handshake protocol that enables its identification by the trading application using the information stored on the keyboard such as specific identifying information or particular keyboard configurations. Accordingly, the keyboard is also functionally configurable—i.e., the arrangement of the keys on the keyboard may be functionally changed such that each key may be associated with different commands in each configuration while remaining in the same physical location on the keyboard.
The above and other objects and advantages of the invention will be apparent upon consideration of the following description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
This invention relates to a fully configurable trading keyboard. More particularly, this invention relates to a keyboard that can be completely physically or functionally rearranged by a user according the user's preferences. Such a keyboard may be used in conjunction with a trading application implemented on a processor that is coupled to the keyboard. The trading keyboard may be used as the input device in a workstation of the trading application system.
Server 120 may be any suitable server, processor, computer, data processing device, or combination of the same. Server 120 may be used to implement the governing logic that processes and executes orders and trades, and distributes trade and market information, including price and size information, to workstations 110. Computer network 103 preferably includes the Internet but may consist of any suitable computer network such as an intranet, a wide-area network (WAN), a local-area network (LAN), a wireless network, a digital subscriber line (DSL) network, a frame relay network, an asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) network, a virtual private network (VPN), or any combination of the same. Communications links 102 and 105 may be any communications links suitable for communicating data between workstations 110 and server 120, such as network links, dial-up links, wireless links, hard-wired links, etc.
Workstations 110 may be personal computers, laptop computers, mainframe computers, dumb terminals, data displays, Internet browsers, Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), two-way pagers, wireless terminals, portable telephones, etc., or any combination of the same. Workstations 110 may be used by participants to enter bid, ask, buy and sell orders for the items being traded and view market activity corresponding to these items.
A typical workstation 110 may include processor 111, display 112, input device 113, and memory 114, which may be interconnected. In a preferred embodiment, memory 114 includes a storage device for storing a workstation program for controlling processor 111. Memory 114 may also store keyboard mapping configurations, as described below, and other data on the storage device. The workstation program may include the trading application and handshake protocol described below. Input device 113 may be used in conjunction with display 112 by users to enter bids/asks on desired items and to execute and monitor trades. Input device 113 may include a mouse, a trackball, a game controller, a touch pad, a keyboard, or any combination of the same. For example, input device 113 may include the trading keyboard according to the present invention. Input device 113 may be coupled to processor 111 through any communications link such as a network link, a wireless link, a hard-wired link, or any other suitable link. Processor 111 may use the workstation program to receive trade information relating to the items being traded by multiple users of system 100, or other users, and display such information on display 112 or communicate such information to display 112.
Server 120 may include processor 121, display 122, input device 123, and memory 124, which may be interconnected. In a preferred embodiment, memory 124 includes a storage device for storing a server program that provides the governing logic for controlling processor 121. Memory 124 may also store keyboard mapping configurations, as described below, and other data on the storage device. Processor 121 may use the server program to process orders and execute trades communicated from various workstations that are operated by multiple users of system 100, or other users, and communicate trade information, to workstations 110 and back office clearing center 130. More specifically, processor 121 may use the server program to process orders placed by users in response to users entering commands using input device(s) 113, and execute trades based on such orders, whenever applicable.
Back office clearing center 130 may be any suitable equipment, such as a computer, a laptop computer, a mainframe computer, etc., or any combination of the same, for causing trades to be settled and/or verifying that trades are settled. Communications link 107 may be any communications links suitable for communicating data between server 120 and back office clearing center 130, such as network links, dial-up links, wireless links, hard-wired links, etc.
Preferred embodiments of the trading keyboard of the present invention which may be used as part of input device 113 of
Each key cover 304 may include an identifying mechanism that identifies to key bases 302 the one or more commands of the trading application associated with a particular key cover. Each key base 302 may include a mechanism for detecting the identification mechanism included in key covers 304. For example, as shown in
The mechanism for identifying the command or group of commands (i.e., function) associated with each key cover may include a computer chip, a resistor, a bar code, Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID), or any other suitable identification mechanism that is capable of interacting with the key bases. Each key base may include a detector or a reader, such as a bar code scanner, an ohm meter, or any other suitable mechanism for detecting the identification mechanism included in the key cover. In order to determine the command or function associated with a key cover placed on the key base, each key base may include or have associated therewith a device key for correlating any identifying mark or signal on the key cover with a particular command or function of the trading application. For example, “ISSUE” key cover 304 may include a three-ohm resistor. The key base on which “ISSUE” key cover 304 is placed may detect the three-ohm resistance value of the resistor and refer to the device key to correlate the three-ohm resistance value to the “ISSUE” command and thereby send the appropriate signal to the trading application to execute the “ISSUE” command.
In addition to the mechanism for identifying the commands or function associated with the key cover, each key cover 304 may also be labeled in a conventional manner to convey to the user the commands or function associated with the key cover. Additionally, each key base 302 may include a set of jumpers that may be used to enable or disable the key base. Moreover, because some of the keys on the keyboard may have different sizes, multiple key bases can be combined to act as a single larger key base, or vice versa. For example, a larger key cover may be accommodated by removing the key covers from a set of adjacent key bases, disabling all but one of the corresponding key bases, and replacing the removed key covers with a larger key cover that occupies substantially the same physical space as the removed key covers. Conversely, a single large key cover may be removed, the inactive key bases may be reactivated, and the large key cover may be replaced with a number of smaller key covers.
Identification of key covers may occur each time the key is enabled (e.g., by activating the jumpers in the corresponding key base), actuated (e.g., struck by a user), or placed on the key base. Identification may additionally or alternatively occur after the trading keyboard is coupled to a processor on which the trading application is implemented. Therefore, in this arrangement, each key cover may be placed on any key base (or plurality of suitable key bases where the key cover is sufficiently large to encompass more than one key base) in the keyboard, such that the key cover retains the function associated with the key cover, regardless of where the key cover is placed on the keyboard. In other words, every time any key base having a particular key cover is actuated, the same signal is transmitted from the keyboard, regardless of which key base the key cover has been placed on. A trading application that is implemented on the processor to which the keyboard is coupled is configured to receive such signals from the trading keyboard. In this arrangement, the trading application need not be notified of any changes in the physical configuration of the various keys on the keyboard, as the signals received by the trading application will not be affected by any physical reconfiguration.
In another aspect of the invention, the trading keyboard may be fitted with a mechanism that allows a user to select different functional configurations—i.e., modes—of the trading keyboard associated with different keyboard mappings. In order to receive the advantages of this aspect of the invention, the keyboard keys need not necessarily include self-identifying key covers and detecting key bases. Instead, each key may be conventionally configured to send one or more specific commands to the trading application implemented on the processor to which the keyboard is coupled.
For example, as shown in
For example, as illustrated by
Alternatively, the mode selection mechanism may be used to select different modes that associate different commands with particular key covers for self-identifying keys. For example, a self-identifying key may be associated with a single function that includes four different commands, A, B, C, and D, of the trading application. Regardless of the key base on which the self-identifying key cover has been placed, the particular key cover is associated with command A when no mode key is pressed. Pressing a first mode button may change the command associated with the key cover from A to B. Pressing a second mode key may change the command from A to C, and by pressing a third mode key the command is changed from A to D, etc. Permutations of pressed and unpressed mode keys may be used to create a large number of modes from a few mode keys.
It should be understood that the mode selection mechanism may be additionally used with a keyboard that does not include self-identifying key covers to further select between commands associated with a single function (e.g., similar to a “SHIFT” or “ALT” key). This aspect of the invention, for example, may be used to help users who may want to trade more volume during a busier time of the day. One mode of the trading keyboard may be configured such that larger trade sizes are entered using keys that they would typically, under a different mode, be used to trade less volume. For example, as shown in
In essence, various keys may be adapted to perform more than a single function or command, depending on the mode chosen by a user, regardless of whether such keys were pressed individually, sequentially or simultaneously with other keys.
The trading keyboard may be equipped with memory in order to store different keyboard mapping configurations and other information such as identifying information. A particular keyboard mapping configuration may be communicated to the processor on which the trading application is implemented so that the trading application can recognize and interpret the different signals received from the keyboard in order to apply the corresponding commands. Alternatively, the keyboard may use the mapping configuration to generate signals that the trading application recognizes as appropriate commands without requiring any change in the way the trading application interprets the received signals. A particular keyboard mapping may be retrieved from a source other than the keyboard, such as workstation memory 114 or server memory 214, and placed in, or downloaded to, the keyboard memory.
The need for communicating keyboard configurations or identifying information may be precluded by the use of self-identifying keys. However, other identifying information, such as information that can be used to identify the keyboard manufacturer, provider, distributor, etc., may be communicated to the processor. Such information may be used in conjunction with a handshake protocol implemented between the keyboard and the processor. This protocol enables the identification of the keyboard by the trading application. If the identification process is not successful, either signals may not emanate from the keyboard or the trading application may discard all such signals. The keyboard may preferably be fitted with a mechanism that indicates whether the identification was successful. For example, an Light Emitting Display (LED) on the keyboard may be lit indicating that identification was successful.
Thus, a fully-configurable trading keyboard is provided. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the present invention can be practiced by other than the described embodiments, which are presented for the purpose of illustration and not of limitation.