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Publication numberUS3507376 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateApr 21, 1970
Filing dateNov 16, 1967
Priority dateNov 16, 1967
Also published asDE1809195A1
Publication numberUS 3507376 A, US 3507376A, US-A-3507376, US3507376 A, US3507376A
InventorsHaig Kafafian
Original AssigneeHaig Kafafian
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Communication system for the handicapped
US 3507376 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

H. KAFAFIAN A ril 21, 1970 COMMUNICATION SYSTEM FOR THE HANDICAPPED Filed Nov. 16. 1967 4 Sheets-Sheet'l INVENTOR fin/e KnFAF/AN ATTORNEYS April 21, 1970 H. KAFAFIAN COMMUNICATION SYSTEM FOR THE HANIHCAPPED 4 Sheets-Sheet 5 Filed NOV. 16, 1967 A ril 21, 1970 H. KAFAFIAN 5 COMMUNICATION SYSTEM FOR THE HANDICAPPED Filed Nov. 16, 1967 4 Sheets-Sheet 4 5' INVENTOR. j I A I Hfl/G KAFHFMN A T TOR NF) Y5 United States Patent Office 3,507,376 Patented Apr. 21, 1970 Int. Cl. B41j 5/10 US. Cl. 19719 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE The present invention relates to an improved method and apparatus for operating typewriting, Braille or other program-controlled machines, which are particularly suited for use by handicapped persons since the manual operation of a conventional keyboard is not required. According to one embodiment of the invention the op erator is provided with an arrangement of contacts'or other means fixed upon his finger tips and electrically connected to a master character selector. The contacts may be activated by moving the appropriate fingers adjacent to a flat conductive plate located in a console on or remote from the machine in order to complete the electrical circuits necessary for the selection of a predetermined key and operation of the machine. In a second embodiment, the electrical contacts are fixed in the fingers of gloves worn by the operator. In that embodiment the thumb of each glove acts as a conductive plate and the operator need only place the respective finger contacts against the thumb in order to complete the desired electrical circuits.

In either of these embodiments the finger contacts may be replaced by pressure actuated switches mounted on the fingers or installed in the glove fingers. Such switches need not be touched to a conductive plate but may be operated by merely pressing the finger against any hard surface.

In all of the above embodiments a dual input matrix circuit is used as a master character selector; with the x input circuits being controlled by the right hand contacts and the y inputs being controlled by the left hand contacts, for example. A dual input code or machine language is used whereby each individual character is selected by closing a unique combination of one contact of the x input circuits and one contact of the y input circuits.

In another embodiment of the invention, the same dual input code is used but the finger contacts are replaced by two small groupings of keys. For example, a left grouping of seven keys controls the y input circuits and a right grouping of seven keys controls the x input circuits of the character selector. The two key groupings are mounted near each other so that they may beeasily spanned and depressed by one hand of an operator or by an individual wearing prosthetic and/or orthotic/ prosthetic devices. Alternatively, the two groups of keys may be mounted, respectively, on the right and left sides of a wheelchair.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION anism or keyboard which accepts the program; a memory in the form of key bars or other mechanisms which store functions in the machine; and an output or visual readout which may take the form of a picture, typed words and characters, Braille characters, three dimensiona1 impressions, punched tape, magnetic tape or palpable vibrations.

Many of the common program-controlled machines such as typewriters, business machines, and computers for example include keyboards as the man-machine interface or input mechanism. These keyboards, conventionally include a large plurality of keys, each of which represents one function, character, or symbol in the upper case position and other functions, characters, or symbols in the lower case position and require that the operator strike the key and depress it in order to print the character or carry out the desired function. Thus, the ordinary programming of a key-board mechanism is accomplished by the operators selection of one finger at a time and direction of that finger to a specific letter or function key. Then the preselected key is struck and depressed in order to accomplish the desired function. In order to achieve continuous operation of a keyboard at a satisfactory speed, the location of each of the keys must be mentally realized by the operator, and the operators hands must be coordinately moved to new 10- cations in order to reach the appropriate keys. Certain limitations are present in such a conventional keyboard even with respect to a physically able operator. For Braille machine operation use of as many as six fingers at a time are necessary to obtain the desired character or symbol. Thus, extensive training and practice is necessary for an operator to attain superior typewriter or Braille keyboard operating proficiency and even then the ability of an experienced keyboard operator to adjust to or transfer between modified arrangements of keys or functions is usually nil. Also, the fact that a typewriter operator continually performs a sequential, single, digitto-key procedure withoutarm or hand-support eventually leads to fatigue.

A language-structure problem also presents obstacles for keyboard operators. Thus, some linguists and others knowledgeable of language structure are aware of inherent inadequacies in the conventional typewriter keyboard layout. For example, although ED, ING, THE and AND, appear frequently in the English language as sequential groups of letters, the locations of these letters are widely spaced on the. keyboard. In the French language the most frequently used digraphs are ES, EN, LE and DE. Again the. keys for these letters are not in an ideal location for rapid vtyping. In either of these languages typing speed is affected when fingers must be manipulated to widely spaced positions. In addition, the probability of introducing errors is increased when the series of characters to be sequentially programmed are at remote locations on the keyboard. These unnatural finger stretches .deserve special attention when standard keyboards are considered. However, with Braille machines,

where simultaneous finger manipulations of up to six fingers at one time are used, the difficulty in attaining rapid programming by blind persons, who might therefore also have poorer manual dexterity, is even more serious. In addition most of the other factors mentioned above cause vastly more severe constraintsfor disabled machine operators than for physically able operators.

For example, a significant restriction for the blind in typing is the difficulty in merely learning and teaching the positions of the keys and the-use of the conventional keyboard. In fact the difficulties of the blind in this respect are compounded since they are compelled to learn one programming method for typewriters and another, completely different keyboard and programming method, for Braille machines.

Another problem is the obvious futility of even a sighted person, handicapped by a debilitating condition such as cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis, in trying to exercise the manual dexterity demanded by a typewriter keyboard comprised of about fifty haphazardly-positioned keys. Thus, the involuntary muscular contractions associated with these disabling conditions usually preclude the satisfactory manipulation of an intricate keyboard. Likewise, an amputee with the aid of his prosthesis may be entirely unable to sequentially strike and depress the keys of a conventional keyboard one at a time. A further inherent constricting factor to the teaching and learning of conventional keyboard use by all handicapped persons is the adverse psychological effect and frustration associated with their usually slow progress in learning to perform movements in accordance with the complex machine language and key placement;

A number of systems employing other than conventional keyboards have been devised in the prior art in attempts to overcome some of the above factors and enable high speed typing or permit disabled persons to satisfactorily operate programmed machines. For example some typing systems, such as that described in US. Patent No. 2,613,797 to Hogg utilize an expanded lever and key system which overlays the ordinary keyboard and permits the operator to use a closed fist or other portion of the hand in the writing operation. Another system designed for use by invalids, described in US. Patent No. 2,924,321, includes a light beam and photocell arrangement which may be controlled by the operator to select a particular letter to be printed by the remotely located machine. Yet another approach to typing is described in US. Patent No. 3,022,878 to Seibel et al. which discloses a machine control system designed especially for aerospace applications wherein the operator is equipped with a three-position transducer for each finger and is required to perform only small movements of his fingers in order to actuate the controls of the machine.

It should be apparent that each of the systems mentioned above is nevertheless subject'to certain of the objections mentioned above with respect to conventional keyboard systems. In particular it is apparent that the Seibel et a1. system demands high manual dexterity and would not be suitable for use by those with debilitating conditions and/or people who do not have fingers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides a simplified apparatus for controlling typewriters, Braille or other programcontrolled machines which overcomes the above-mentioned disadvantages in the use of conventional keyboard machines. It is one object of this invention to provide a machine input apparatus which may be located remote from the machine itself, if necessary, and which may be operated by a person wearing prosthetic and/ or orthotic/ prosthetic devices or by an amputee. It is a further object of the invention to provide a control system which utilizes a unique machine language compatible with the operation of a dual input master character selector; which language is easily and rapidly learned and may be implemented by handicapped persons on the interface apparatus provided.

In one embodiment of the invention for persons with fingers but who may be blind, for example, electrical contacts are fixed on the finger tips of both hands of the operator by means of plastic clasps and a pair ofcorresponding fiat conductive plates are provided to which the operator may touch the contacts. An electrical conductor is provided from each finger contact to a master character selector circuit and the conductive plates are energized by a suitable low voltage direct current source whereby input signals to the master character selector may be generated by the operator merely by touching one of the contacts to the corresponding conductiye plate. The contacts of the left hand are utilized as the y inputs and the contacts of the right hand as the x inputs to a dual input master character selector.

A unique dual input code or machine language is used with the system whereby any desired control operation such as the actuation of an appropriate key operating solenoid on an electric typewriter may be initiated by touching one predetermined contact of a y input and one predetermined contact of an x input to the corresponding left and right conductive plates. More than one electrical contact may be provided on each finger, for example one contact may be located at the point of each finger tip and a second contact on the ball of each finger tip whereby they may be easily manipulated even by a handicapped person. This arrangement permits a satisfactory number of unique character combinations in the dual input machine language to handle the operation of all the keys on a conventional typewriter keyboard, as well as Braille and other program-controlled machines.

In a second embodiment of the invention, the electrical contacts are fixed in the fingers of gloves worn by the operator. In that embodiment, the conductive plates are eliminated and the thumb contacts of the gloves are connected to a suitable source of voltage so that the operator need only place the respective finger contacts against the thumb contacts of the gloves in order to complete the desired electrical circuits.

In a third embodiment of the invention the finger or glove contacts are replaced by pressure actuated switches. Such switches need not be touched to a conductive plate, but may instead be operated merely by pressing the finger carrying any particular switch against a hard surface so as to apply the necessary light operating pressure upon that switch.

In a fourth embodiment of the invention, the same dual input code is also used but the finger contacts are replaced by two small groupings of keys. For example, a left grouping of seven keys controls the y input circuits and a right grouping of seven keys controls the x input circuits. The two key groupings are mounted near each other. so that they may be easily spanned and operated by one hand of an operator or an individual wearing prosthetic and/or orthotic/prosthetic devices.

Alternatively the two groups of keys described above may be separated and mounted, respectively, near the right and left arm rests of a wheelchair so that an invalid sitting therein may easily operate said keys.

It should be noted that other types of responsive devices can be employed in place of the contacts, pressure switches or key groupings in order to adapt the present invention for use by an invalid capable of limited response. Such arrangements might include the use of photo responsive cells or electrical circuits actuated by muscular contractions and/or electrical outputs from the central nervous system.

Likewise it is not necessary for an operator to use all ten fingers in order to provide a sufficient number of dual input combinations to control all the keys on a typewriter, for example. Thus, combinations of dual inputs controlled by fingers on one hand may be used, with or without combinations of inputs controlled by other body members such as arms and legs, for example, in order to achieve the necessary number of input combinations.

In addition, the y and x inputs to the selection circuit need not be exclusively controlled by the left and right hands, respectively. On the contrary, the arrangements of keys or contacts may be designed so that certain x or y inputs are located in the same grouping or under controlof one hand.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The novel features of the invention are set forth in the appended claims. The invention itself, both as to its construction and manner of o eration together with additional objects and advantages thereof, will be best understood from the following description of a preferred embodiment when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic view showing the present invention adapted for use as a control system for a typewriter;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view of the bottom of the type writer showing electrically responsive control mechanisms for operating the typewriter keys;

FIG. 3 is a partial top section of FIG. 2 showing the horizontal orientation of the key operating solenoids;

FIG. 4 is a diagram showing one preferred embodiment of the invention including a schematic diagram of the master character selector circuit and the electrical contacts fastened to plastic clasps worn by the operator;

FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram of an alternative embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 4, wherein a separate conductive plate is provided for each hand of the operator;

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic view of a glove having electrical contacts mounted in the fingers which may be used in another embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a schematic diagram of yet another alternative embodiment of the invention wherein the finger contacts are replaced by keys;

FIG. 8 is a chart showing a dual input machine language designed to operate the keys on a typewriter; and

FIG. 9 is a detailed view of a plastic clasp, including two electrical contacts, which may be worn on the finger of the machine operator.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED "EMBODIMENTS Referring now to FIG. 1, a typewriting machine 1 is shown supported on one end of a console 2. The console also acts as a support for large flat metallic plate 4 mounted within a suitable frame 5 which can be fastened to the console by screws or bolts 7 if desired. An electrically responsive mechanism and apparatus for operating the keys of the typewriter is contained within a housing 8 attached to the underside of the typewriter; while a master character selection circuit electrically connected therewith is confined within housing 9 shown conveniently attached to the bottom of the console beneath the conductive plate.

The operator of the machine may be seated in front of the console in any position where his hands comfortably reach the conductive plate. In order to operate the machine the operators hands are equipped with electrical contacts mounted on plastic finger clasps in a manner generally indicated in FIGS. 4 and 5. To cause any character on the typewriter to be printed, the operator need only touch one predetermined contact of the left hand and one predetermined contact of the right hand to any portion of the conductive plate in a manner which will be explained hereinafter.

FIG. 2 shows an end section of the details of the key operating mechanism mounted beneath the typewriter keyboard. As shown, each typewriter key 20 is connected by means of a rod 21 to an end 24 of an L-shaped link 23. The plurality of links are pivotably mounted on an axle 26 supported beneath the typewriter by braces 28. Thus, any typewriter key will be depressed to print a character when its corresponding link is caused to pivot or rotate in a clockwise direction. The other end 25 of each pivotable link is connected by means of one of the rods 30 to one of a plurality of corresponding solenoids 32, which may be called motor devices, fixedly arranged in four spaced banks angularly offset with respect to each other as shown.

Each solenoid includes an outer housing 35, a cylindrical armature 33 and a coil 34 surrounding the armature and wound so that the armature will be moved a small distance away from axle 26 when the solenoid coil is energized and returned to its original position when the coil is deenergized. The coil of each solenoid is connected, by conductors not shown, in circuit with the master character selector whereby the coils and therefore the typewriter keys may be selectively actuated by the operator.

FIG. 3 shows a partial section of a top view of one upper and one lower bank of the key operating solenoids 32. As shown the solenoids of the upper bank are horizontally offset with respect to the solenoids of the lower bank in order to provide operating clearance for the rods 30.

It should be understood that, while only a single row of typewriter keys are shown in FIG. 2, the mechanism described may be easily adapted to handle multiple rows of keys merely by adding the necessary number of additional solenoids and key linkages.

It should also be understood that while a particular mechanism has been described herein for operating typewriter keys the present invention is not limited to the embodiment shown. Rather, any electrically responsive mechanism for operating typewriter keys or corresponding input elements of any other program-controlled mechanism would be suitable for use in the system of the present invention.

FIG. 4 shows a diagrammatic view of one preferred embodiment of the invention which includes a schematic of the dual input master character selection circuit utilized in the invention. In the upper part of the figure a large conductive plate 40 is shown which corresponds to the plate 4 shown mounted on the console in FIG. 1. The operators hands are shown in dotted outline over the plate and plastic clasps are fixed upon the fingers of each hand. Referring briefly to FIG. 9, each plastic clasp 10 includes a split expansible ring portion 11 designed to hold the clasp firmly, but comfortably, about the tip of one of the operators fingers; as well as a nose portion 13 upon the exterior of which two electrical contacts 15, 16 are attached. A separate electrical conductor is connected to each of the electrical contacts, which are oriented on the clasp so that one contact 15 may be addressed to the conductive plate by laying the finger on the plate in a flat position and the second contact 16 may be addressed to the plate by touching the tip of the finger to the plate. The inner portion of the clasp may be lined with a suitable material to act as padding and insulate the wearer from the electrical contacts'although this is not essential.

Referring back to FIG. 4 it should be apparent that four fingers of each hand of the operator are provided with plastic clasps. Of these the thumb clasp includes but a single electrical contact while each of the other fingers has two electrical contacts; making a total of seven contacts on each hand, all of which may be easily manipulated even by a handicapped person to touch the board conductive plate. The seven conductors from each hand may be gathered and bound into a separate flexible cable which is connected into the master character selector in a manner which does not unduly interfere with the movement of the operators hands.

As shown, the conductors from the left hand contacts are connected as the y input circuits 4147 and the seven conductors of the right hand are connected as the x input circuits 51-57 of the master character selection circuit 60.

For convenience the master character selector circuit is shown as including 49 coils which in actuality are the coils of the key operating solenoids shown in FIG. 3. Although these coils are schematically shown in electrical circuit with the diodes of the character selector circuit, it should be realized that they are physically confined in a housing beneath the typewirter. By the same token, a number of dual input circuits other than seven may be used in which case the number of elements in the master selector would vary. For example, eight y and eight x inputs have been used in one embodiment of the invention designed to operate a Braille machine.

In the preferred embodiment of the invention shown in FIG. 4 the coils correspond to the 49 keys or operators necessary to control the keys on a conventional typewriter in accordance with the machine language chart shown in FIG. 8 For convenience these coils are shown in FIG. 4 as being arranged in seven horizontal rows and seven vertical columns. Connected to the upper terminal of each coil is a solid state diode poled to permit current flow in one direction through the coil and block current flow in the opposite direction. The lower ends of the coils in each row are connected in common through a conductor to one of the x inputs 5157. The x inputs are connected, respectively, to the positive terminals of batteries 51a57a used to energize the solenoid coils. It should be apparent that any other suitable source of power could be used in place of the batteries shown. The negative terminals of the batteries are connected, respectively, through conductors 71-77 to the seven electrical contacts 71a77a controlled by the operators right hand. The upper or cathode terminals of all of the diodes in any respective column are connected through a common conductor to a corresponding one of the y input terminals 41-47. The y input terminals are connected, respectively, through conductors 61-67 to the seven electrical contacts 61a67a controlled by the operators left hand.

It should be apparent that any predetermined solenoid may be energized by simultaneously touching one appropriate contact controlled by the left hand and one appropriate contact controlled by the right hand to the conductive plate. For example should the thumb contact of the left hand and the tip contact of the middle finger of the right hand both be touched to the conductive plate a circuit would be completed from the positive terminal of battery 53a to x input 53 and then through coil 70, diode 69 to y input 47. The circuit may then be traced on through conductor 67 to contact 67a on the thumb of the operators left hand, through plate 40 to contact 73a on the tip of the middle finger of the operators right hand and on to completion along line 73 to the negative terminal of battery 53a. Note that all the possible circuits through the other coils of the same row which are connected to the battery 53a are open circuited at this time. Consequently only the solenoid associated with coil 70 will be operated by the operation described above.

In the preferred embodiment disclosed herein a battery voltage of 28 volts is used to energize the solenoids and thereby cause the selected key to be operated. However, through the choice of other equally suitable solenoids a lower battery voltage or any other suitable source of power may be employed. It should be noted that, although the finger clasps may be padded for comfortable wear and insulated from the electrical contacts, the current fiow in the circuits of the system is so slight as to present no problems should the conductive plate be touched by the operator.

In the event the operator, in trying to print a selected character, accidentally touches two contacts on one hand to the plate it should be apparent that two solenoid coils may be simultaneously energized in which case an error may occur in the desired output of the machine. However, this has not been found to be a serious drawback in the operation of the disclosed embodiment in view of the ease with which the contacts may be maniplated. Moreover, though the details are not disclosed herein, well known logic or voting circuits exist which may be easily embodied in the circuitry of the character selector in order to minimize output errors due to these mistakes on the part of the operator. In addition, time delay circuits may be easily added to the character selector to eliminate the need for the preselected contact on each hand to be simultaneously touched to the plate.

In addition it is not necessary that the x inputs be controlled exclusively by the right hand and the y inputs be controlled exclusively by the left hand. On the contrary, various combinations of x and 1 inputs may be placed under the control of either the right or the left hand merely by making appropriate connections.

It is believed to be a highly significant aspect of the invention that the dual input character selection circuit makes possible the use of the vastly simplified machine language shown in the chart of FIG. 8. In the chart, the various characters (letters and numbers) and operators (back space, tab, etc.) are set forth in the 49 center squares, while the various possible finger positions of the left and right hand of the operator are shown on either side of the bottom of the chart. It should now be apparent that to type the letter H, the flat contact of the index finger of the left hand and the flat contact of the middle finger of the right hand are used. Likewise the letter K may be printed by use of the flat contact of the ring finger of the left hand and the fiat contact of the middle finger of the right hand. As with a conventional typewriter keyboard all the keys are operable in a natural and shift position in order to print both upper and lower case letters. In order to print upper case letters with the present apparatus, the shift lock lever is first operated, then the desired upper case letter is printed, after which the shift unlock lever is operated. Alternatively the function of the shift lock and shift unlock circuits may be delegated to a separate circuit controlled by a shift bar mounted for convenient actuation by the operator. Thus, FIG. 1 shows a bar 6 which the operator may easily depress with his wrist or the base of his hand, without pausing appreciably in typing operations, in order to selectively print upper case letters or symbols.

An alternative embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 5 to include separate conductive plates 40a and 40b for each of the operators hands. In practice the two conductive plates may be mounted side by side on the console or, as is also the case where a single plate is used, in any other convenient location remote from the machine to be operated. The dual plate arrangement shown in FIG. 5 includes the same general arrangement of finger contacts and basically the same selector circuit as were used in the previously described embodiment. However, by dividing the plate, a single battery or power source may be used to service all the solenoids in conjunction with the selector circuit. Thus, by connecting the battery 58 between the two conductive plates, as shown, an energized circuit will be completed through any desired solenoid as the operator touches the appropriate two finger contacts to the respective conductive plates. In this manner the batteries 51a-57a are replaced by a single battery. In FIG. 5 spark suppression diodes 59 are connected in parallel with each coil to reduce sparks at the contacts in the circuits. These spark suppression diodes may be employed, as well, with any of the other embodiments of the invention.

In another alternative embodiment of the invention, the operator wears a glove-like apparatus, as is shown in FIG. 6, on each hand. The use of this type of glove eliminates the need for a conductive plate, since the thumb of the glove acts as a conductive plate and the operator need only touch an appropriate finger contact on each hand to the thurnb of the glove on that hand in order to control the machine. Thus, FIG. 6 shows a right-hand glove which includes two electrical contacts on each of the index, middle and ring fingers and a single contact mounted at the base of the index finger to comprise a total of seven finger contacts.

As before, each of the contacts is connected via one of the separate electrical conductors 71b-77b to an input of a selector circuit, not shown, of the same type used in the embodiment of FIG. 5. A similar glove is used on the left hand of the operator to control the y inputs to the selector circuit. The thumb of each glove includes a larger contact which is also insulated from the wearer and attached to a separate electrical conductor. Each of the contacts shown is located so as to be easily touched to one of the thumb contacts. It should be apparent that the thumb contact of the right hand will be connected to the positive terminal of a battery, not shown, and the thumb contact of the left hand connected to the negative terminal of the battery in which case the gloved hand embodiment will function as a machine control system using the same machine language as the other embodiments.

Yet another alternative embodiment of the invention is shown in FIG. 7 where 14 key controlled switches are used to control the machine instead of an arrangement of finger contacts. The switches are of a conventional type having two terminals which are bridged by a conductive bar when the key is depressed in order to complete an electrical circuit through the switch. The keys are shown arranged into two groups of seven each, conveniently mounted upstanding from a keyboard where they may be operated by both hands of an operator. However, it should be noted that the arrangement of the keys is sutficiently compact to be spanned by a single hand of the operator whereby one-handed operation is quite possible. It should also be apparent that the offset orientation of the keys enables their convenient operation by a person wearing prosthetic and/or orthotic/ prosthetic devices. In this regard it should be noted that the wearer of artificial arms may have difficulty in maintaining control through a wide angle of movement. Consequently the rather compact dual input arrangement of fourteen keys described above is significantly easier for an armless person to operate with his prosthesis than a conventional typewriter keyboard where approximately 49 keys are spaced over a large area.

As in the other embodiments the y inputs of the master selector are controlled by the seven left keys 8187- and the x inputs by the seven right keys 91-97 whereby the same character selector and machine language may be used. For example, the three upper keys 81, 83, 85 of the left hand group of FIG. 7 may be seen to correspond respectively to the tip positions of the ring, middle and index fingers of the left hand as shown in FIG. 8. Likewise the lower three small keys 82, 84, 86 correspond respectively to the fiat positions of the ring, middle and index fingers of the same hand. The remaining large key 87 is equivalent to the thumb contact of the left hand. As shown, the upper terminals of the left hand keys are commonly connected to one terminal of a battery 88 and the upper terminals of the right hand keys are commonly connected to the other battery terminal. Therefore, it should be apparent that the simultaneous depression of one key of the left hand group and one key from the right hand group can again energize a unique solenoid.

Although any of the above embodiments may be efficiently used by non-handicapped individuals, it 1s with respect to the handicapped that the present invention takes on the most significance. Thus it should be apparent that the embodiments of FIGS. 4 and 5 are particularly adapted for use by the blind and those affiicted with debilitating diseases which impair the free and coordinate movement of their fingers. In the case of the blind the ease with which the machine language of the present invention may be learned and the ease with which a blind operator may carry out the necessary physical movements of the present invention where he is relieved of the necessity of continuously reorienting his hands to a keyboard result in a mode of machine control vastly improved over any other available system for operating a conventional typewriter keyboard or Braille machine. For example, it requires considerably less time to achieve satisfactory typing skill using the present system, than is usually required to operate a conventional Braille machine. At the same time, the absence of any necessity for timed coordinated movements to an exact location by the fingers of the operator obviously results in a machine control system which is more desirable for the victims of cerebral palsy than a conventional keyboard. Alternatively the key groupings shown in conjunction with FIG. 7 might be separated and mounted, respectively, near the right and left arm rests on a wheelchair so that a disabled person confined therein might easily operate said keys without arm and/or wrist movements. Likewise a suitable arrangement of keys could be designed for use by a person con fined in some other special environment such as an oxygen tent.

The embodiment described in conjunction with FIG. 6 also has special significance when used by a blind person since it eliminates even the necessity for locating a conductive plate. It should also be clear that the embodiment of FIG. 7 will enable the wearers of prosthetic and/ or orthotic/ prosthetic devices to operate program-controlled machines whereas they are completely helpless to operate a conventional keyboard.

In addition to the embodiments described herein, it should be further apparent that the apparatus of the present invention might be easily adapted for operation by other body parts whereby amputees or other severely disabled persons may also have access to the communication media of program-controlled machines.

What is claimed is:

1. Apparatus for man-machine communication comprising:

a dual input interface for the direct input of signals by an operator,

said interface including two spaced input sections, each comprising a plurality of individual input means, the input means of one section being positioned and adapted to be selectively actuated by a movement of one portion of the operators body, and the input means of the second section being positioned and adapted to be selectively actuated by a second portion of the operators body;

a signal output means assembly disposed at a point remote from said input means, said output means comprising a plurality of individual output elements each adapted to signal a different letter of an entire alphabet,

each of said input means incorporating a single switch;

a source of electric power, and circuit means establishing an electrical connection between said dual input interface and said signal output means remote therefrom, each of said switches controlling a single circuit only of said circuit means,

said circuit means being arranged to connect each of said output elements to one and only one of the input means of each input section, through the respective switches thereof, said circuit means being further arranged to require that the actuation of each output means requires the actuation of one input means of each input section, said circuit means being still further arranged so that the actuation of any two or more input means of a single input section without the actuation of any input means of the other input section will not operate any of the output means,

whereby the simultaneous bilateral movement of two portions of the operators body efl ects selective operation of a single output element to signal a single desired letter of the alphabet.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said circuit means comprises a detachable interconnection whereby different interfaces may be selectively coupled to a single signal output means assembly.

3. A control apparatus comprising:

a multiplicity of electrically operable motor devices, each arranged to actuate a corresponding movable device;

said motor devices being arranged to define a matrix of rows and columns of motor devices;

a first plurality of contacts respectively connected to each of said rows and a second plurality of contacts respectively connected to each of said columns;

a source of electric power;

further contact means arranged to be engaged with a selected contact of each of said first and second plurality of contacts to complete a circuit, including said source of electric power and that motor device common to the row and column connected to said selected contacts; and

means for mounting said first and second plurality of contacts on the fingers of an operators hands, said further contact means being positioned so as to be readily engageable by said first and second plurality of contacts on the fingers of the operators hands.

4. Control apparatus as defined in claim 3 wherein said further contact means comprises at least one conductive metal plate adapted to be engaged by said contacts on the operators fingers.

5. Control apparatus as defined in claim 3 wherein said motor devices are solenoids and wherein each movable device is a typewriter key.

6. Control apparatus as defined in claim 3 wherein said further contact means comprises a single conductive plate adapted to be engaged by at least one contact of each of said first and second pluralities, said source of electric power being connected in series with contacts of one of said plurality of contacts and their corresponding motor devices.

7. Control apparatus as defined in claim 3 wherein said further contact means comprises two conductive plates each positioned to be engaged by a corresponding one of said first or second plurality of contacts, said source of electric power being connected between and in series with said plates.

8. Control apparatus as defined in claim 3 wherein said first and second pluralities of contacts are mounted on the fingers of gloves adapted to be worn by an operator.

9. Control apparatus as defined in claim 3 wherein said contacts of said first and second pluralities of contacts are mounted on resilient clips each adapted to gri and be held on a finger tip.

10. Control apparatus as defined in claim 3 wherein said further contact means comprises a conductive plate and means for mounting the same on the thumb of an operators hand in position to be easily engaged by any contact on a finger of that hand.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,031,017 2/1936 Tenis.

2,912,090 11/1959 Holmes.

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U.S. Classification400/87, 400/477, 341/21, 178/101, 400/474, 340/4.12
International ClassificationA61F4/00, G06F3/09, B41J7/00
Cooperative ClassificationB41J7/005, A61F4/00, G06F3/09
European ClassificationG06F3/09, B41J7/00B, A61F4/00