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J-Key Mouse

At the Special Interest Group for Computers and Human Interaction (SIGCHI), Home Row Inc. demonstrated the technology for a replacement for the standard mouse or trackball. The pointing device mounts under the "J" key on the keyboard and provides mouse functions. Rocking the "J" key provides directional information, and other keys can act as mouse buttons.

Unfortunately, the device is modal, so the user must keep the current mode in mind at all times. Otherwise, the device is ideal, especially for laptops, which have little room to spare for a mouse or trackball and for people who dislike moving their hands from the keyboard.

Some thought would have to be put into the final design, but a truly useful and space-saving mouse replacement would not be hard. In addition, it could be customized to individual users, so left-handed people could use the "F" key instead. Keytronic, of Spokane, Washington, has licensed the technology and a keyboard employing it may appear soon. Keytronic makes a Macintosh keyboard and might be looking for a feature to compete with Datadesk's Switchboard, which accepts a number of different keyboard modules. However, Keytronic also makes a keyboard for PC-clones that includes a touch sensitive digitizing pad that has never been ported to the Macintosh.

Keytronic -- 800/262-6006 -- 509/927-5515
Related articles:
InfoWorld -- 30-Apr-90, Vol. 12, #18, pg. 13
InfoWorld -- 03-Sep-90, Vol. 12, #36, pg. 21