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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
KEYBOARD APPARATUS WITH VARIABLE LAYOUT AND THE PROCESS FOR ITS APPLICATION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/193326
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Keyboard apparatus with variable layout and the process for its application The subject of the invention is a keyboard apparatus with variable layout comprising a housing (1) and symbol-carrying surface (5), outer keys (11) and transparent inner keys (3) connected to the housing (1) with counter units (2). It is characterized in that the symbol- carrying unit (5) has at least one card stripe (7) and a free slot (4) that is suitable for inserting the card stripe (7) and passes through the inner key (3). The process for the application of the keyboard is also a subject of this invention.

Inventors:
FEHER ZSOLT SANDOR (HU)
Application Number:
PCT/IB2018/052122
Publication Date:
October 25, 2018
Filing Date:
March 28, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
FEHER ZSOLT SANDOR (HU)
International Classes:
G06F3/02
Foreign References:
US20100245134A12010-09-30
CN203217487U2013-09-25
EP0196929A11986-10-08
US6686908B12004-02-03
US20030108375A12003-06-12
US4297028A1981-10-27
US4348660A1982-09-07
US20110169669A12011-07-14
US20150205369A12015-07-23
GB1201296A1970-08-05
US20100134420A12010-06-03
US5515045A1996-05-07
US20140043237A12014-02-13
US20060132449A12006-06-22
US20140300550A12014-10-09
US20110248921A12011-10-13
US20150293605A12015-10-15
US20060239746A12006-10-26
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PINTZ, Gyorgy (HU)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Keyboard apparatus with variable layout comprising a housing (1) and symbol-carrying surface (5), outer keys (11) and transparent inner keys (3) connected to the housing (1) with counter units (2); it is characterized by the symbol-carrying unit (5) having at least one card stripe (7) and the inner key (3) having a slot (4) that is suitable for inserting the card stripe (7) and passing through the inner key (3).

2. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein the distance (dl) between the top (4a) of the slot (4) and the card stripe (7) is larger than the distance (d2) between the bumper surface (3 a) of the inner key (3) and the frontal area (2a) of the counter unit (2).

3. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1 or 2, wherein it further includes a connecting element (8) and several card stripes (7) are integrated into one card (6) with the connecting element (8).

4. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-3, wherein it further includes a fixing element (9) and the card stripe (7) is non-permanently fixed to the housing (1) with the fixing element (9).

5. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-4, wherein a label is included in the material of the card stripe (7).

6. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-5, wherein the card stripe (7) comprises electronic units, an electronic display suitable for showing labels, a power supply unit, a memory unit, a processor unit, a signal-connecting unit, a unit suitable for identifying the card stripe (7) and a unit capable of modifying the content of the memory unit.

7. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-6, wherein electronic units, an electronic display suitable for showing labels, a power supply unit, a memory unit, a processor unit, a signal-connecting unit, a unit suitable for identifying the card stripe (7) and a unit capable of modifying the content of the memory unit connected to the card stripe (7) are comprised.

8. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-7, wherein the outer key (11) is transparent.

9. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-8, wherein the outer key (11) comprises a slot (4) that is suitable for inserting the card stripe (7) and completely (4) or partially (12) passes through the key.

10. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-9, wherein traditional keys (10) with slots (4) are included.

11. Process for the application of keyboard apparatus with variable layout in accordance with claim 1, wherein a card stripe (7) is passed through the inner keys (7) with slots (4) extended to their entire width, then the card stripe (7) is non-permanently fixed to the housing (1) of the apparatus, and the apparatus is put into operation by pressing down the inner keys (3) in a way that the inner keys (7) do not touch the card stripes (7) when pressed down.

12. Process in accordance with claim 11, wherein the layout of the apparatus is changed by removing the card stripe (7) and/or the card (6) comprising several card stripes (7) from the slots (4), then card stripes (7) and/or a card (6) comprising several card stripes (7) with different layout are passed through the inner keys (3); if necessary, the procedure can be repeated.

13. Process in accordance with claim 11 or 12, wherein the card stripe (7) is connected to a computer upon its insertion, then identified and programmed.

14. Process in accordance with any of claims 11-13, wherein the card stripe (7) is fixed to the housing (1) by firstly passing it through the inner keys (3), then its part hanging out from the outer key (11) on one side is fixed and/or the one hanging out from the outer key (11) on the other side is also fixed.

15. Process in accordance with any of claims 11-14, wherein a code pane is stored, and labels are shown on the display stripe or displays built in the card stripe (7).

AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 07 August 2018 (07.08.2018)

1. Keyboard apparatus with variable layout comprising a housing (1) and symbol-carrying surface (5), outer keys (11) and transparent inner keys (3) connected to the housing (1) with counter units (2); the symbol-carrying unit (5) having at least one card strip (7) and the inner key (3) having a slot (4) that is suitable for inserting the card strip (7) and passing through the inner key (3), characterized in that the distance (dl) between the top (4a) of the slot (4) and the card strip (7) is larger than the distance (d2) between the bumper surface (3a) of the inner key (3) and the frontal area (2a) of the counter unit (2).

2. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1, wherein it further includes a connecting element

(8) and several card strips (7) are integrated into one card (6) with the connecting element (8).

3. An apparatus in accordance with claim 1 or 2, wherein it further includes a fixing element

(9) and the card strip (7) is non-permanently fixed to the housing (1) with the fixing element (9).

4. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-3, wherein a label is included in the material of the card strip (7).

5. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-4, wherein the card strip (7) comprises electronic units, an electronic display suitable for showing labels, a power supply unit, a memory unit, a processor unit, a signal -connecting unit, a unit suitable for identifying the card strip (7) and a unit capable of modifying the content of the memory unit.

6. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-5, wherein electronic units, an electronic display suitable for showing labels, a power supply unit, a memory unit, a processor unit, a signal-connecting unit, a unit suitable for identifying the card strip (7) and a unit capable of modifying the content of the memory unit connected to the card strip (7) are comprised.

7. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-6, wherein the outer key (11) is transparent.

8. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-7, wherein the outer key (11) comprises a slot (4) that is suitable for inserting the card strip (7) and completely (4) or partially (12) passes through the key.

9. An apparatus in accordance with any of claims 1-8, wherein traditional keys (10) with slots (4) are included.

10. Process for the application of keyboard apparatus with variable layout in accordance with claim 1, wherein a card strip (7) is passed through the inner keys (7) with slots (4) extended to their entire width, then the card strip (7) is non-permanently fixed to the housing (1) of the apparatus, the apparatus is operated by pressing down the inner keys (3) in a way that the inner keys (7) do not touch the card strips (7) when pressed down, and the card strip (7) is connected to a computer upon its insertion, then identified and programmed.

11. Process in accordance with claim 10, wherein the layout of the apparatus is changed by removing the card strip (7) and/or the card (6) comprising several card strips (7) from the slots (4), then card strips (7) and/or a card (6) comprising several card strips (7) with a different layout are passed through the inner keys (3); if necessary, the procedure can be repeated.

12. Process in accordance with claim 10 or 11, wherein the card strip (7) is fixed to the housing (1) by firstly passing it through the inner keys (3), then the part hanging out from the outer key (11) on one side is fixed and/or the one hanging out from the outer key (11) on the other side is also fixed.

13. Process in accordance with any of claims 10-12, wherein a code pane is stored, and labels are shown on the display strip or displays built in the card strip (7).

Description:
Keyboard apparatus with variable layout and the process for its application

The subject of the invention comprises a keyboard apparatus with variable layout consisting of a housing, a symbol-carrying surface, and inner and outer keys connected to the housing with counter units. The process of the application of the keyboard apparatus with variable layout is also included in the subject of the invention.

At the present stage of technological development, the following solutions are known.

In the first group of known solutions, the problem of character replacement was sorted out by a surface or surfaces that contain several labels and characters and that are mechanically movable or replaceable under the transparent key caps. These solutions were mostly published several decades ago when the displays were made with cathode ray tube technology and the resolution of the first LCD panels was of low quality with high prices as described in documents EP 0196929A1, US 6686908, US 2003/108375A1, US 4297028A, US 4348660A and US 2011/0169669 Al . For example, the previously published document US 2015/0205369 Al describes a solution with partially transparent key cap, and by turning a cylindrical surface under the transparent part several characters can be displayed without modifying the apparatus, complementing the fixed label on the top of the non-transparent part of the key cap. The whole keyboard has to be redesigned to enable the turning of the cylinders - and optimally their individual modification - for each key with a built-in, complex row of gears.

Based on the invention described in document GB 1201296, a light source gap is moved mechanically, which laterally illuminates a flexible sheet containing specific signs and labels. If several sheets are placed and the light source gap is moved, different kinds of labels can be displayed from the various sheets. The drawbacks of this solution are the mechanical movement and the typos resulting from the possible overlapping and interaction of the labels and characters on the sheets, as well as of the mechanical resistance of the flexible sheets.

In the second group of inventions, the solution was provided by the placement of displays showing pictures, labels, characters that can be programmed under the transparent keys; the keys are particularly flat so that they can be placed above the display and in order to avoid the disturbingly large distance between the transparent surface of the key and the display showing the label as described in the published documents US 2010/0134420 Al, US 5515045A, US 2014/0043237 Al and US 2006/0132449 Al .

For example, document US 2014/0300550 Al contains an apparatus in which one big or several small electronic displays are built under specifically flattened, transparent keys. This apparatus also requires the significant modification of the traditional keyboard design; the guidance of keys has to pass through the display panel, individually in each key. Consequently, another disadvantage is that the display panel containing one display per key can be replaced - i.e. removed or inserted - by disassembling the keyboard and removing the keys one by one. This solution is particularly disadvantageous in terms of the probable defects, as in case of a standard QWERTY/Z keyboard 101-130 displays may need to be built in for 101-130 keys, thereby the chances of failures, as well as the costs of production and maintenance are multiplied.

The published document US 2011/0248921 Al also describes an apparatus applying display pictures transmitted to the top of the transparent keys by optical reflection or by specifically flattened, transparent keys. The drawbacks of both solutions are the relatively large distance between the transparent surface of the key and the display which results in the lateral visibility of the labels or their limited visibility during back-and-forth motion. As a result of the large distance, the possible reflection might also be disturbing.

The third group includes the displays built in the key caps as described in documents US 2015/0293605 and US 2006/0239746 Al . For example, in case of the invention shown in document US 2006/0239746 Al, mini electronic displays are placed in each key; the displays can be seen by the user through the transparent key cap located above the displays. This invention enables complete programmability and the application of optional keyboard technology (e.g. Hall effect, micro switch technology, membrane technology, etc.); however, it is difficult to place more than one hundred mini displays, and expensive control connections have to be applied because of their movement during typing.

None of the inventions mentioned above provides a solution involving slots cut into the side of the transparent key caps or cards with static labels or displays that can be easily inserted into or removed from these slots. The invention aims at eliminating the errors of the current solutions and developing an apparatus and the process for its application which enables the flexible and quick modification of the keyboard layout. Another purpose of the invention is to allow the keyboard to be produced on the present production lines, to avoid any significant changes to the currently used and familiar layout, i.e. to provide the same keyboard which facilitates layouts in accordance with any kind of language or program by the replacement or programming of an insertable card.

The invention process is based on the observation that if the apparatus is developed in accordance with claim 1, the outcome will be a more advantageous invention. The short distance between the upper surface of the key and the upper surface of the card makes it possible to produce an apparatus suitable for outdoor and indoor use as opposed to the previous designs. In this case, it is not necessary to view the keys from a defined, fixed posture due to the legibility of the keys from a wide angle. During the invention process it was also considered that the keyboard layout should be changed by an easily and quickly replaceable card through the slots located in the keys. By fastening the card to the housing, the application of expensive circuit connections (that can tolerate dynamic movement) can be avoided, and it enables cheaper production and simpler assembly.

According to the aim pursued, the most common implementation of the solution based on the invention can be realized in compliance with claim 1. The most common form of the application process is described in the main claim about the process. The specific construction methods are detailed in the subclaims. The solution comprises a keyboard apparatus with generally variable layout consisting of a housing, a symbol-carrying surface, and inner and outer transparent keys connected to the housing with counter units.

The invention is characterized by a symbol-carrying surface with at least one card stripe, at least one inner key capable of passing through the card stripe, so it contains an open slot penetrating the inner key in its entire width. The slot has been designed as a tunnel-like passage for practical reasons, so it contains a material on both sides of the inner key perpendicularly to the direction of the passage of the card stripe (the top of the inner key contacting the fingers of the user spans over the slot like a bridge); however it can be shaped as an incision (or undercut) in which case the card stripe is surrounded by the inner key only from one side. If necessary for the latter solution, the neck between the bottom part of the inner key and the top part exposed to the power exerted by the user has to be more rigid than if there was one neck as in the case of the labyrinth-like slot. A different example for design is characterized by a slot higher than the amount of the thickness of the card stripe, the distance between the lower, bumper surface of the inner key and the frontal area of the counter unit and the distance between the lower surface of the slot and the lower surface of the card stripe. Therefore, the free strike of the key, i.e. the bumping of the key to the frontal area of the counter unit is not prevented by the insertable and removable card stripe passing through the key, i.e. the variable symbol-carrying surface.

A different example for design is characterized by an apparatus containing a connecting element which links several card stripes to form one card, thereby facilitating the modification of the layout as the whole symbol-carrying unit can be changed with two steps (removing the old card and inserting the new one).

A different example for design is characterized by an apparatus with at least one fixing element capable of replacing the card stripe, so it provides a removable bond between the card stripe and the housing. The fixing element may contain a snap with a mortice base; therefore the card can be rigidly fixed to the peg elements of the housing by means of the boreholes located on the card stripes and the connecting element, perpendicularly to their surface. Depending on the place of application, the fixing element may close with a different mechanic shape or force, it may be adhesive, or even a magnetic fixing form. If several card stripes are connected to form one card, the card can be removed after the elements connecting the card stripes to the housing have been removed. A different example for design is characterized by a card stripe which carries the symbol statically, in its material, i.e. it contains a painted, engraved or burnt label. The layout can be changed by replacing the card stripes.

A different example for design is characterized by a card stripe including electronic units, electronic displays capable of showing labels, a power supply unit, a processor unit, a memory unit and a signal connection unit. The power supply unit may be a battery, a unit transforming the alternating current from a household into direct current, or a unit capable of connecting the power supply, such as the universal serial bus connectors. The display can be changed by code-switching appropriately initiated by the user; the code-switching involving the various labels, characters and key layouts is stored in the memory unit. The processor unit is responsible for the calculation of logic operations necessary for the operation of the different displays in accordance with the code pane stored in the memory unit. The signal connection unit attaches the characters to be displayed, the signal coding the labels for the displays either directly from the digital computer connected to the apparatus or indirectly from the microcontroller of the apparatus. The unit used to identify the card stripe can be a microchip, a magnetic chip, a microcontroller, an integrated circuit element, a colour code, a QR code or a barcode that serves as a basis for an automatic code-switching system. Upon removal and insertion of the card stripe, the electronics of the apparatus send a signal to the connected computer about the replacement through a sensor located in the apparatus, and at the same time it forwards the code suitable for the synchronization of the inner code pane of the code stripe and the computer. The code pane of the card stripe is stored in the memory unit. The code pane can be modified based on the instructions given on the connected computer.

A different example for design is characterized by an apparatus containing electronic units capable of operating the card stripe, an electronic display or displays suitable for showing labels, a power supply unit, a processor unit, a memory unit, a unit suitable for the identification of the card stripe and a signal connection unit. The units are electronically connected to the card stripe. The content of the memory unit is modified by a unit integrated into the apparatus and connected to the card stripe based on the instructions given by the computer connected to the apparatus. The display unit of the apparatus provides feedback about the operating condition of the apparatus, and also facilitates direct communication therewith. The direct programming of the device is carried out through the programming menu item activated by a specific keyboard shortcut.

A different example for design is characterized by a transparent outer key. If the outer key has a slot, its layout can be changed. For example, the layout of Caps Lock, Tabulator, Shift, Ctrl, Alt, Space, AltGr, cmd or Esc keys can be typically modified if the appropriate card stripe is inserted. A different example for design is characterized by a slot created in the complete or partial width of the outer key and appropriate for the insertion of a card stripe. A slot completely passing through the key is necessary in case of keys located at the beginning of the row from the direction of the card stripe insertion in order to be able to insert the card stripe through the inner keys with transparent top surface. A slot partially passing through the key can be applied in case of outer keys situated at the end of the row.

A different example for design is characterized by an apparatus with traditional keys. The static key with invariable label can be used for keys with permanent functions. The traditional key may contain a slot that allows the card stripe to pass through in order to facilitate the access of the card stripe to the slot of the inner key.

The invention is applied as a keyboard apparatus with generally variable layout.

A typical feature of this application is that a card stripe passes through the appropriate elements, ideally through slots, of inner keys in a way that the card stripe is inserted into each individual key through the slots and fixed to the housing in a removable way. During the use of the keyboard, i.e. when an inner key is pressed, the inner key does not touch the card stripe carrying or displaying the labels, characters and symbols.

In case of a different form of application, the layout of the apparatus is changed by removing the card stripe and/or the card made up of the card stripes from the slots, and by passing a card stripe and/or card stripes forming a card with different layout through the inner keys. If necessary, this process can be repeated, consequently the layout of the device can be changed without any limitation.

In case of a different form of application, if during the insertion of the card stripe, the card stripe is connected to the computer, it is identified and programmed. During its insertion, the card stripe is connected to the device or computer that uses the keyboard as a periphery. This device can be a PC, a portable computer or any kind of electronic computer. Then the card stripe is automatically identified and programmed by using one of the several known digital signals and signal codings. The type and layout of the symbol-carrying card is identified based on the signal, and the operating system and any other software applications running thereon are notified.

In case of another different form of application, the card stripe is fixed to the housing in the following, removable way. At first, the card stripe is passed through the inner keys, then its part hanging out from the outer key on one side is fixed and/or the one hanging out on the other side is also fixed. A method of non-permanent fixing may be a snap created with the boreholes located on either or both sides of the card stripe or possibly the boreholes on the connecting element(s) - that are perpendicular to the card stripes - of the card made up of several card stripes and with the proper pegs of the housing. Therefore, upon fixing the card stripe is snapped into the appropriate peg(s) of the housing. In case of a different form of application, a code pane is stored in the card stripe; by means of that the characters to be displayed are synchronized to a computer connected to the apparatus, and the characters described in the code pane are shown on the display stripe or displays built in the card stripe on the key places determined by the code pane. In case of an alternative form of application, many various code panes or one variable, editable code pane is stored on the computer, and the displays of the card stripe or the display stripe is controlled directly from the computer.

The invention is presented in details in connection with the design, based on a drawing as follows.

Figure 1 shows a typical design of the apparatus in axonometric view.

Figure 2 is an alternative design in axonometric view.

Figure 3 demonstrates the arrangement of the elements of the apparatus with spatial drawing. Figure 4 shows a possible card design from top view.

Figure 5 presents card stripes from top view.

Figure 6 demonstrates an example for the design of the inner key in exploded view.

Figure 7 shows another example for the design of the inner key in exploded view.

Figure 8 is the cross section of the apparatus on which the operation principles can be observed.

Figure 1 shows a typical design of the apparatus in axonometric view. The apparatus has inner keys (3) with variable layout (keys without label, currently empty keys, keys without meaning) for the functions that are frequently changed, or unwanted, to be removed or disturbing during the current use, and also traditional keys (10) with fixed layout for the permanent functions. The card carrying the symbols (6) can be completely changed. The card (6) fitting to the inner keys (3) from the left can be removed or inserted with one move in order to change the layout of the symbol-carrying surface (5). The card (6) does not exceed the keys on the right side of the apparatus, is not passed through the right-sided outer keys (11) in their entire width, therefore they end in a partially (12) passing slot. The card (6) can be fixed to the housing (1) of the apparatus with fixing elements (9) located on the connecting elements (8). The symbol-carrying surface (5) cannot be changed due to the traditional keys (10) of the lower key row and the outer keys (11); it also has parts with permanent features to provide permanent functions. The symbol-carrying surface (5) can be covered by the insertion of one card from one side and by the insertion of 2 cards (6) (containing half-rows) from two sides. In case of the alteration of keyboards with traditional QWERTY or QWERTZ layouts, the apparatus contains 104 or 105 keys; in case of a reduced keyboard (not involving the numeric pad and other extra functions) it can include only 79 keys; but typically 79-140 keys which usually contain 47-90 inner keys (3), so it is characterized by variable layout and transparent touch pad. In case of special target systems, such as catering systems in restaurants or input devices connected to computer-controlled processing devices, the functions naturally can be carried out by far fewer keys, for example in an application for PIN code (personal identification number) input the device appropriately contains 16 keys. The card, or even the apparatus can contain electronic parts as a result of the inserted card, the serial bus connector typical of keyboards, or in order to program the electronic parts, displays, memory units, processors, identification chips and to provide power supply. The apparatus may involve a cover that fits in the gaps between the keys and covers the inserted card stripes and cards for aesthetic purposes and to protect them from dirt.

Figure 2 demonstrates another design of the apparatus in axonometric view. Individual card stripes (9) are passed through the inner keys (3) per key row; they are connected to the housing (1) on both sides with fixing elements (9), therefore the variability of the apparatus layout, the extent of its variability, i.e. the number of configurations that can be compiled have increased. With the exception of the lower row of traditional keys (10), every row of keys can be assigned optional functions.

Figure 3 shows the arrangement of the elements of the apparatus and their compilation in axonometric view. On this figure the mixture of the previous designs can also be observed; the layout of the upper key row can be changed with an individual card stripe (7), while that of the key rows below the upper row can be changed by card stripes (7) formed into a continuous card (6) by means of a connecting element (8). The card stripe (7) can be fixed at the end, and the card (6) can be fixed with the boreholes located on the connecting element (8) to the fixing elements (9) of the housing (1); this figure shows a non-permanent mortice with a type of snap. The card (6) or the card stripe (7) can be snapped to the peg-like (9) fixing element on the housing (1) through the boreholes located on the card (6) or the card stripe (7). Naturally, the fixing element can offer other binding methods as well to fix the card (6) or the card stripe (7), including a magnetized peg to make the positioning of the holes covered with magnetisable metal easier. The card stripes (7) are passed through the slots (4) of the inner keys (3). The thickness (h2) of the card stripe (7) is significantly lower than the height (hi) of the slot (4), therefore it can be easily passed through the slot (4). The inner keys (3) are returned to the housing by a spring counter unit (2) that is in accordance with the traditional key design. The distance (dl) between the card stripe (7) and the top of the slot (4a), and the distance (d2) between the bumper surface (3a) of the inner key (3) and the frontal area (2a) of the counter unit (2) is typically larger than zero in order to ensure the operation of the apparatus. That design can also be observed where the inner key (3) contains slots (4) completely passing through it; however, in case of outer keys at the end of the row (11), a slot that only partially (12) passes through can also be applied instead of the slot (4) completely passing through the key. As the visual sign on the card stripe (7) inserted into the slot (4) has to be visible, the material of the inner key is transparent or opaque.

Figures 4 and 5 show the card stripe compilations connected to the apparatus designs in figures 1-2 from top view. The demonstrated card stripes implement the QWERTY layout of the traditional English keyboard, but naturally other symbol-carrying surfaces (5) with different key number, therefore with different character number to be displayed, with different language or any other special function can also be covered by using card stripes (7) with design suitable for the apparatus.

Figure 4 shows card stripes (7) formed into one rigid card (6) with a connecting element (8); this card can be inserted from one side (from left in this example). The labels appear on several card stripes (7) that are connected with a connecting element (8) to form a single card (6); this element is perpendicular to their longitudinal direction. The fixing elements (9) are located on the side of the connecting element (8), so on only one side of the apparatus. The card may contain a microchip suitable for automatically switching between for example Hungarian and English, a microcontroller, other integrated circuits or any other element enabling the identification of the card (6). The apparatus identifies the card (6) with an appropriate device, and notifies the controlled device connected to it about the meanings of the output signals of the apparatus or the apparatus itself changes the output signals in accordance with the given symbol-carrying card (6).

Figure 5 demonstrates that the symbol-carrying surface (5) can be covered with separate card stripes (7) without using connecting elements (8). In the design seen in this figure the symbol- carrying surface is covered by separate card stripes (7) per row and the boreholes suitable for fitting the fixing element (9) can be placed on both sides of the card stripes (7). In case of standard keyboards with QWERTY/Z layout, it usually requires the application of 4-12 card stripes (7). Depending on the rigidity of the material of the card stripe (7) and the keyboard design, the card stripes (7) may contain boreholes perpendicular to their surface on either or both sides to enable the connection to the peg of the fixing element. Accordingly, if the connection with fixing element (9) is not required on one side of the card stripe (7), the card stripe (7) does not pass through the outer key (11) at the end or beginning of the row, and the inner key (3) contains a slot that passes partially, but not completely (12) through the key. Card stripes (7) with less rigidity are connected to the housing (1) with fixing elements (9) on both sides and are passed through completely penetrating slots (4). Of course, the symbol- carrying surface (5) can be covered with half-stripes from both sides as if the stripes in the figure were cut in the middle row by row.

Figures 6 and 7 present two different inner keys (3) with various designs in terms of the slot (4). When the inner key (3) is completely pressed down, the bumper surface (3a) of the inner key (3) touches the frontal area of the counter unit (2). In the design shown in Figure 6 the slot (4) has a rectangular cross section in the plane section perpendicular to the direction of the passage of the card stripe (7); on the whole, it is cuboid in shape. Of course, the shape of the slot does not influence the operation of the apparatus or the scope of the invention, since it is possible to have an almost open tunnel-like passage design, that is not parallel to the sides of the inner key i.e. it is at an angle other than 90 degrees. This is shown in figure 7. In such case, the transparent cover of the inner key (3) supported by 2 pegs connects to the remaining elements of the inner key (3).

Figure 8 shows the operation of the apparatus in cross section. The inner keys (3) are connected to the housing (1) with mechanic counter units (2). As it is known, after an inner key (3) is pressed down, the apparatus produces a specific output signal. The relative displacement created during key strike may be equal to the basic-state distance (d2) between the frontal area (2a) of the counter unit (2) and the bumper surface (3 a) of the inner key (3) at the very most; this is the maximal displacement of the inner key (3). The inner keys (3) contain slots (4) with tunnel-like design that are suitable for the transition of the card stripe (7); in case of alternative design, the slots (4) are located on one edge of the inner keys (3) like an incision or undercut. By the joint application and connection of several card stripes (7) a symbol-carrying card can be created (6) which covers the part of the symbol-carrying surface (5) that can be freely modified. The flexible counter unit (2) of the inner keys (3) sets the position of the key (3) in a resting state so that there is a distance (dl) between the bottom surface of the symbol-carrying card stripe (7) and the top (4a) of the slot (4). Appropriately, in basic state the bottom of the slot (4) is bumped to the bottom surface of the card stripe (7) - that is firmly fixed compared to the housing (1) - by the counter unit (2), therefore their distance is zero. If the fixing of the card stripe (7) cannot bear the pressure caused by the inner keys (3), of course they can be bumped on an appropriate part of the housing (1), thereby avoiding the load on the symbol-carrying surface (5). The distance (dl) between the top (4a) of the slot (4) and the symbol-carrying surface (5) is larger than the distance (d2) between the bumper surface (3 a) of the inner key (3) and the frontal area (2a) of the counter unit (2). By maintaining this relation, the known operation of the inner key (3) and its counter unit (2) is not disturbed by the inserted symbol-carrying card (6) or card stripes (7). The material of the inner key (3) caps is appropriately transparent plastic which enables the identification of the function of each key with the visual signs on the card stripes (7), thereby showing the symbol- carrying surface (5) to the user. In mechanic designs, i.e. designs without display, some inner keys (3) with disturbing functions can be excluded by locally increasing the height (h2) of the card stripes (7) against the height (hi) of the slot (4) in the unwanted inner key (3) (blank key) positions, so that the slot-card distance (dl) will be shorter than the counter unit-key distance (d2): dl < d2. In this case, when the inner key (3) is pressed down, the top (4a) of the slot (4) is bumped on the symbol-carrying surface (5), therefore it cannot be operated.

The described apparatus has numerous advantages. One of them is that the relatively large distance between the top surface of the transparent inner key and the top surface of the card typical of the previous inventions has been decreased, therefore the fibre optic elements are not necessary and the displacement of the viewpoint does not cause any disturbing obstructions. Another advantage of the invention is that optional layout can be set up with the card both mechanically and electronically, consequently the card can be quickly and simply replaced or programmed with software. This way the keyboard can be set to any language spoken in the world in a split second; moreover, by using symbols and signs instead of letters, the use of computers and education can also be facilitated. In order to mechanically change the layout, the card (or cards) has to be drawn to the side. The keys can remain in their place for the entire process, the keyboard does not need to be disassembled or taken apart which results in a longer lifespan. The advantage of the mechanic labels, e.g. painted labels, is that they provide the convenient use of variable layout without displays, for this reason it is cheaper and more efficient in energy saving. It is also important to note that due to the keyboard design, the common wear of key labels can be avoided which also results in a much longer lifespan as the labels are not located on the contact pad used mechanically during typing; the symbol-carrying surface can be found under the transparent surface. It also suggests that the cleaning and disinfection of the transparent, plastic keys become simpler as the surfaces that are touched by fingers and are to be cleaned can be scrubbed harder since the labels will not wear off. After removing the card, the whole keyboard may be immersed in cleaning preparations. The invention is also advantageous because it can be manufactured on the old production lines at the usual price and size. It is also a positive characteristic that the card can be designed in different ways. The card may consist of symbol-carrying stripes which stand alone or are integrated into one with a connecting element. The card may contain half-stripes inserted from the opposite side; these stand alone or are integrated with a connecting element. The invention is applied in the field of electronic input devices.

Beyond the aforementioned examples, the invention can be realized in different designs and with a different process of manufacturing within the scope of protection.