Patents by Inventor Patrick J. Franz

Patrick J. Franz has filed for patents to protect the following inventions. This listing includes patent applications that are pending as well as patents that have already been granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

  • Patent number: 6107996
    Abstract: A computer system employs a keyboard that includes an integrated pointing device coupled to a pointing key. The system has a typing mode of operation and a pointing mode of operation. In the pointing mode, the pointing key is used to enter pointing information, thereby obviating a discrete pointing device such as a mouse. The system may be switched between the typing mode and the pointing mode explicitly by predetermined commands. Alternatively, the system may be switched into the pointing mode implicitly by monitoring and timing keyboard events following a pointing key press.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 24, 1992
    Date of Patent: August 22, 2000
    Assignee: InControl Solutions, Inc.
    Inventors: Patrick J. Franz, David H. Straayer
  • Patent number: 6040821
    Abstract: In a cursor tracking system (FIG. 11), a pointing device includes a plurality of force sensors (304), optionally integrated with a keyswitch on a computer keyboard. The force sensors detect lateral and vertical forces applied to the keycap (300) by a user (302) for cursor control. Raw force data is acquired by A/D apparatus (306) and transmitted (310,312) to a host processor. Driver level software in the host linearizes the raw force values (316, FIG. 12D) to compensate for anomolies and nonlinearities in the force sensors, keyboard mechanics, and A/D. The resulting linear force values are adjusted (320) to compensate for preloading bias forces (318) on the sensors. The unbiased, linear force values and sensor configuration (322) are used to determine a net XY vector (324, FIG. 16). A speed value is determined by a quadratic mapping of the XY vector magnitude (328), taking mouse button status into account.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 19, 1993
    Date of Patent: March 21, 2000
    Assignee: InControl Solutions, Inc.
    Inventors: Patrick J. Franz, Philip D. Biehl, David H. Straayer, Robert H. Dodier
  • Patent number: 6004064
    Abstract: A quick release mechanism having a lifting ring (34) and a support ring (30) generally surrounds a shaft to be clamped (20). A cam or other lifting mechanism(32), operated by a handle (42), acts to separate the support ring and the lifting ring in a direction in line with the shaft. A restraint and adjustment nut(40) mounted on the end of the shaft in contact with the lifting ring acts to tension the shaft. The lifting mechanism is free to rotate about the shaft independently of the restraint and adjusting nut allowing the handle to be used in any orientation desired and preventing the handle from being used as a crank or wrench. Embodiments are provided allowing retrofit to existing shaft fastening applications, including those where access to the interior of the shaft must be maintained.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 6, 1998
    Date of Patent: December 21, 1999
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: 5889507
    Abstract: A miniature isometric joystick is disclosed for receiving manual user input to effect directional control such as controlling cursor movement on a computer display screen or controlling movement of an apparatus such as a machine or robot. The joystick is arranged to fit between the existing keys in a computer keyboard. The joystick includes a preloading spring for compressing the assembly together, thereby biasing the force sensors so as to neutralize manufacturing variations and control electrical and mechanical null zones. An integrated switch is provided in the joystick for detecting an external force applied by the user's fingertip. The switch unobtrusively detects when a user is pointing, thereby allowing a control system to measure pointing system bias signals while the user is not pointing. This permits the control system to automatically correct for drift, without requiring additional keyboard space for a separate switch to enable the pointing device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 24, 1996
    Date of Patent: March 30, 1999
    Assignee: InControl Solutions, Inc.
    Inventors: T. Scott Engle, Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: 5701142
    Abstract: Pointing stick assembly for use in a computer keyboard for cursor control is disclosed. The assembly includes a pointing button coupled through a plurality of rigid actuator legs to force sensors. For pointing operations, the pointing button is pressed in a desired direction by a user for moving a cursor in a corresponding direction on a display screen. Apertures are provided extending through one or more keycaps on the keyboard for mounting the pointing assembly. Each actuator leg is positioned in one of the apertures so that no additional keyboard space is required for the pointing device, thereby obviating a separate mouse, keyboard mounted trackball or the like.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 7, 1995
    Date of Patent: December 23, 1997
    Assignee: In-Control Solutions, Inc.
    Inventors: Daniel R. Brown, Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: 5583303
    Abstract: A pressure sensitive transducer array in which a plurality of transducers are connected in series and in parallel with one another. In one embodiment, a resistive layer is formed from carbon or silver ink on a polyester film. A plurality of conductive shunt elements having greater conductivity than the resistive layer is formed on a second polyester film. The films are placed adjacent to one another with the shunt elements contacting the resistive layer. Voltage is applied across the resistive layer and pressure is applied thereto. As the pressure increases, the number of current paths set up through contact points on the shunt elements increase thereby decreasing the resistance across the resistive layer and increasing current flow. In another embodiment a plurality of plate elements are contained in a plane on one side of a dielectric layer. A plurality of plate elements are contained in a plane on the other side of the dielectric layer.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 1, 1995
    Date of Patent: December 10, 1996
    Assignee: InControl Solutions, Inc.
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: 5578765
    Abstract: A pressure sensitive transducer array in which a plurality of transducers are connected in series and in parallel with one another. In one embodiment, a resistive layer is formed from carbon or silver ink on a polyester film. A plurality of conductive shunt elements having greater conductivity than the resistive layer is formed on a second polyester film. The films are placed adjacent to one another with the shunt elements contacting the resistive layer. Voltage is applied across the resistive layer and pressure is applied thereto. As the pressure increases, the number of current paths set up through contact points on the shunt elements increase thereby decreasing the resistance across the resistive layer and increasing current flow. In another embodiment a plurality of plate elements are contained in a plane on one side of a dielectric layer. A plurality of plate elements are contained in a plane on the other side of the dielectric layer.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 1, 1995
    Date of Patent: November 26, 1996
    Assignee: InControl Solutions, Inc.
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: 5568987
    Abstract: Apparatus for use in a computer keyboard for cursor control is disclosed. The apparatus includes a compound key which serves for both typing a character and for pointing operations, i.e. for cursor control like a mouse. For pointing operations, a pointing stick or shaft is pressed in a desired direction by a user for moving a cursor in a corresponding direction on a display screen. The pointing stick is disposed in an aperture that extends through a modified key cap, so that no additional keyboard space is required for the pointing device, thereby obviating a separate mouse, keyboard mounted trackball or the like. In an alternative embodiment, the pointing stick extends through an aperture in the keyboard space bar. In another embodiment, adjacent key caps are modified so as to fit closely around the key cap that houses the pointing stick without interfering with operation of either the pointing stick or the keyswiches.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 24, 1995
    Date of Patent: October 29, 1996
    Assignee: InControl Solutions, Inc.
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: 5541622
    Abstract: A miniature isometric joystick is disclosed for receiving manual user input to effect directional control such as controlling cursor movement on a computer display screen or controlling movement of an apparatus such as a machine or robot. The joystick is arranged to fit between the existing keys in a computer keyboard. The joystick includes a preloading spring for compressing the assembly together, thereby biasing the force sensors so as to neutralize manufacturing variations and control electrical and mechanical null zones. An integrated switch is provided in the joystick for detecting an external force applied by the user's fingertip. The switch unobtrusively detects when a user is pointing, thereby allowing a control system to measure pointing system bias signals while the user is not pointing. This permits the control system to automatically correct for drift, without requiring additional keyboard space for a separate switch to enable the pointing device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 9, 1993
    Date of Patent: July 30, 1996
    Assignee: InControl Solutions, Inc.
    Inventors: T. Scott Engle, Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: 5499041
    Abstract: A keyswitch-integrated pointing assembly in which a plurality of substantially planar force sensing elements are disposed on a planar surface adjacent a keyswitch on a keyboard. The keyswitch includes a plunger which extends downwardly from a key cap for actuating a switch at the lower end of vertical key cap travel. The key cap engages an indexing surface when fully depressed which transmits force applied to the key cap to the force sensing elements. The force sensing elements are sandwiched between a pair of opposing plates thereby biasing the elements into a substantially linear operating region when no force is applied to the key cap.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 13, 1994
    Date of Patent: March 12, 1996
    Assignee: InControl Solutions, Inc.
    Inventors: Eric L. Brandenburg, Patrick J. Franz, David H. Straayer
  • Patent number: 5431064
    Abstract: A pressure sensitive transducer array in which a plurality of transducers are connected in series and in parallel with one another. In one embodiment, a resistive layer is formed from carbon or silver ink on a polyester film. A plurality of conductive shunt elements having greater conductivity than the resistive layer is formed on a second polyester film. The films are placed adjacent to one another with the shunt elements contacting the resistive layer. Voltage is applied across the resistive layer and pressure is applied thereto. As the pressure increases, the number of current paths set up through contact points on the shunt elements increase thereby decreasing the resistance across the resistive layer and increasing current flow. In another embodiment a plurality of plate elements are contained in a plane on one side of a dielectric layer. A plurality of plate elements are contained in a plane on the other side of the dielectric layer.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 18, 1992
    Date of Patent: July 11, 1995
    Assignee: Home Row, Inc.
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: 5407285
    Abstract: Apparatus for use in a computer keyboard for cursor control is disclosed. The apparatus includes a compound key which serves for both typing a character and for pointing operations, i.e. for cursor control like a mouse. For pointing operations, a pointing stick or shaft is pressed in a desired direction by a user for moving a cursor in a corresponding direction on a display screen. The pointing stick is disposed in an aperture that extends through a modified key cap, so that no additional keyboard space is required for the pointing device, thereby obviating a separate mouse, keyboard mounted trackball or the like. In an alternative embodiment, the pointing stick extends through an aperture in the keyboard space bar. In another embodiment, adjacent key caps are modified so as to fit closely around the key cap that houses the pointing stick without interfering with operation of either the pointing stick or the keyswiches.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 14, 1994
    Date of Patent: April 18, 1995
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: 5252971
    Abstract: Data acquisition in a multi-function keyboard system includes both acquiring typing data by conventional keyboard scanning techniques and, simultaneously, acquiring pointing data by sampling force sensors coupled to the multi-function pointing key. The keyboard system periodically samples the force sensors to determine bias values defining a null point, and updates the bias values by a moving average calculation to compensate for manufacturing tolerance and long term drift. In response to a start pointing command from the host processor, the keyboard system transmits bias values and then pointing values, the latter being responsive to forces applied to the pointing key by the user for cursor control. The sensor values are encoded so as to pass through to the host processor in a manner transparent to application software. The system scans the force sensors periodically to acquire successive pointing values, and transmits them to the host, as long as pointing mode persists.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 18, 1991
    Date of Patent: October 12, 1993
    Assignee: Home Row, Inc.
    Inventors: Patrick J. Franz, Philip D. Biehl
  • Patent number: 5245321
    Abstract: A computer system employs an integrated keyboard and pointing device to allow user input of alpha numeric (typing) information, pointing direction information and pointing event information without moving the user's hands from the usual typing position on the keyboard. The new system has typing and pointing modes of operation. In the pointing mode, preassigned keyswitches are used to input pointing events, cursor speed changes, and other modifications to the system's operation. All such modifications are transparent to the operating system and application software because they are processed at keyboard interrupt level.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 20, 1992
    Date of Patent: September 14, 1993
    Assignee: Home Row, Inc.
    Inventors: Patrick J. Franz, David H. Straayer
  • Patent number: D358382
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 15, 1993
    Date of Patent: May 16, 1995
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: D358385
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 26, 1994
    Date of Patent: May 16, 1995
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: D359956
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 26, 1994
    Date of Patent: July 4, 1995
    Assignee: Home Row, Inc.
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: D360200
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 9, 1993
    Date of Patent: July 11, 1995
    Assignee: Home Row Inc.
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: D360412
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 16, 1994
    Date of Patent: July 18, 1995
    Assignee: InControl Solutions, Inc.
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz
  • Patent number: D360630
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 26, 1994
    Date of Patent: July 25, 1995
    Assignee: Home Row, Inc.
    Inventor: Patrick J. Franz