Patently Unpatentable: Selecting Keyboard Layouts

Attaching USB keyboards to a computer is still a nasty business because you have to select the correct layout for it.

My solution: Add a special command to the keyboard which allows to download the layout (you get the key code and a symbol per key).

Since that is probably too simple (proof: the PC industry didn’t implement it years ago), here is a better solution: If the computer has a webcam, the user plugs the keyboard into a free USB port. This makes the driver activate the camera. The user can then show the keyboard to the PC. A simple OCR software will determine which key is where and load the appropriate layout. The quality of the OCR can be improved by analyzing the layout files and comparing them to the image.

If no layout can be found, the OCR can be used to find a very similar layout and then the few remaining keys can be assigned.

If there is no webcam, users can make a photo with their mobile phone or digital camera and use that.

Cool, eh? And best of all: This can’t be patented anymore.

Worst of all: Someone might already have a patent on this.

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