Author Topic: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro  (Read 32420 times)

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Offline sordna

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Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« on: Sat, 03 May 2014, 14:13:46 »
Hi,
the Laptop Pro seems like a great keyboard, but especially since it works with all sorts of devices like tables, phones, smart TVs, HTPCs, it would be great if it had a trackpoint for mousing like these IBM compact keyboards did:



There's also a new TEX keyboard on the block that does it:



Matias, could you consider this ?  It would be so awesome and will guarantee you many more customers... there is big demand for trackpoints in keyboards in the enthusiast community.
Kinesis Contoured Advantage LF with Cherry MX Red switches / Extra keys mod / O-ring dampening mod / Dvorak layout. ErgoDox with buzzer and LED mod.
Also: Kinesis Advantage Classic, Kinesis Contoured Model 110, Data911 TG3, Fingerworks Touchstream LP, KBC Poker (Cherry MX Red), IBM Space Saving keyboard (Buckling spring), Goldtouch GTU-0077 keyboard

Offline luisbg

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 18 May 2014, 00:50:39 »
I love the external keyboard for Thinkpad's. If something similar could exist with Cherry Switches and a proper 60% it would be bliss.

http://theawesomer.com/photos/2009/09/090609_lenovo_1.jpg
Leopold FC660M - Brown mx switches - black case - white blank keys :: ErgoDox - Blue mx switches - classic case - black blank keys

Offline Canut

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 23 May 2014, 01:34:07 »
^^ This ^^
(with dedicated arrow keys)

Offline sordna

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #3 on: Thu, 05 June 2014, 20:26:58 »
Matias could you please let us know if this is a possibility ?
Kinesis Contoured Advantage LF with Cherry MX Red switches / Extra keys mod / O-ring dampening mod / Dvorak layout. ErgoDox with buzzer and LED mod.
Also: Kinesis Advantage Classic, Kinesis Contoured Model 110, Data911 TG3, Fingerworks Touchstream LP, KBC Poker (Cherry MX Red), IBM Space Saving keyboard (Buckling spring), Goldtouch GTU-0077 keyboard

Offline Matias

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 11 June 2014, 17:31:53 »
Thanks for asking...

When we first started planning the Laptop Pro, we considered including a pointing device, like a small trackpad or TrackPoint.  In the end we decided against it, because it would have driven up the cost too much.

Also, our original traget market for the Laptop Pro was Mac users, whereas the TrackPoint was more a PC phenomenon.

If you really want something like that, I think your best bet would be to mod it yourself.  Take the guts of an existing keyboard with a TrackPoint, and solder it into a Laptop Pro or Mini Quiet Pro.

Also, if you end up building it, don't buy a new one.  We have units on hand that were returned due to slight defects.  We could provide you with one of those for half the cost or less.

Hope that helps...


Offline sordna

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 12 June 2014, 01:27:03 »
Thanks for the info. Hmm, is a trackpoint out of the question in a future product? Perhaps the mini quiet pro is a good candidate since it's not geared toward mac as much.

Anyhow, I do think there is an enthusiastic market for this.

BTW if you ever do a newer version of the laptop pro, it would be nice to allow switchable operation (usb / bluetooth) instead of bluetooth only.
Kinesis Contoured Advantage LF with Cherry MX Red switches / Extra keys mod / O-ring dampening mod / Dvorak layout. ErgoDox with buzzer and LED mod.
Also: Kinesis Advantage Classic, Kinesis Contoured Model 110, Data911 TG3, Fingerworks Touchstream LP, KBC Poker (Cherry MX Red), IBM Space Saving keyboard (Buckling spring), Goldtouch GTU-0077 keyboard

Offline Matias

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #6 on: Fri, 20 June 2014, 20:52:41 »

Thanks for the info. Hmm, is a trackpoint out of the question in a future product? Perhaps the mini quiet pro is a good candidate since it's not geared toward mac as much.


It's not out of the question.  You're the first person to ask, but if we got a lot of people requesting a TrackPoint, we'd certainly consider doing one.




BTW if you ever do a newer version of the laptop pro, it would be nice to allow switchable operation (usb / bluetooth) instead of bluetooth only.


Actually, we have a switchable Bluetooth-USB mechanical keyboard already...

http://matias.ca/onekeyboard/tactile


Offline bhtooefr

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 15 October 2014, 18:27:27 »
Consider me the second person to ask for a TrackPoint in one of your keyboards, although I'm certain I've mentioned in many places wanting one before. :p I'd take it in either Mac or PC, with Click switches (not Quiet), although I would recommend getting something with the real IBM TrackPoint firmware - the negative inertia feature in it really does help the precision a lot.

Offline Matias

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #8 on: Thu, 16 October 2014, 07:41:38 »
Consider me the second person to ask for a TrackPoint in one of your keyboards, although I'm certain I've mentioned in many places wanting one before. :p I'd take it in either Mac or PC, with Click switches (not Quiet), although I would recommend getting something with the real IBM TrackPoint firmware - the negative inertia feature in it really does help the precision a lot.


Okay, thanks for posting...



Offline jacobolus

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #9 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 15:08:29 »
Iím not going to buy a Matias keyboard for myself in the near future, because Iím into making my own non-standard keyboard layouts... but if I were going to buy a keyboard, a trackpoint would be a great feature.

One of the most inefficient aspects of computer use, as well as one of the biggest contributors to RSI, is reaching back and forth between a pointing device and the keyboard.

If comparing a trackpoint directly against a mouse (or trackball or trackpad), the trackpoint loses for ease and comfort (at least, for me). However, for tasks that require frequent switching between pointing and typing, a keyboard with an integrated trackpoint has a huge advantage over a keyboard with a mouse/trackpad/trackball off to the side.

I would definitely recommend someone spend an extra $20Ė30 on a keyboard with a trackpoint, given the option.

Matias: you should try to hunt down a TEX Yoda if you can, to try it. The trackpoint they use is actually very nice, better than the ones I remember from Thinkpads 15 years ago. (I havenít tried many recent Windows laptops.)

Offline Matias

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 17:09:09 »

One of the most inefficient aspects of computer use, as well as one of the biggest contributors to RSI, is reaching back and forth between a pointing device and the keyboard.

If comparing a trackpoint directly against a mouse (or trackball or trackpad), the trackpoint loses for ease and comfort (at least, for me).



I was a ThinkPad user back in the day, and really loved it.

The TrackPoint was definitely beneficial in that it virtually eliminated the back & forth movement between keyboard & mouse (homing time) -- but I also found that it was more wear and tear on my hands (still within the threshold of acceptability though).



Matias: you should try to hunt down a TEX Yoda if you can, to try it. The trackpoint they use is actually very nice, better than the ones I remember from Thinkpads 15 years ago. (I havenít tried many recent Windows laptops.)


Funny story...

Ted Selker, inventor of the TrackPoint, visited out lab and brought prototypes of his isometric joystick design, prior to it being released by IBM and famously branded.  I don't know what happened in the transition from R&D to product release, but the original prototypes tracked MUCH better than the eventual product.  I don't know if it was a driver issue, or if he used better hardware in his research samples, but I know what you mean.

There was certainly more potential there than IBM managed to tap.


Offline jacobolus

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 18:13:05 »
Read this:
http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/bibuxton/buxtoncollection/detail.aspx?id=60

Quote
The ones that got away are more poignant. I designed adaptive algorithms we were exploring- we were able to raise the tracking plateau by 50% for some people, and if we had had the go ahead we could have made that stable and increased performance tremendously. It seems some people used tendon flex to improve pointing- we found this looked like overshoot and we had trouble making the adaptive algorithms stable in the time box we gave it. We made a special application that was a game people played to improve their pointing Ėas their game play improved the transfer function improved too! We made a surgical tool that used a Trackpoint to allow tremor-free use of a camera from a laparoscope. We made a selector for the FAA to do ground traffic control that saved a multihundred million dollar contract for IBM with the government. I would have loved the product to change cursor movement approach for form filling, text editing and graphical applications; again that could probably double performance. Yes, I s till want to do it NOW. We built a gesture language into the Trackpoint that can be accessed in the firmware; the only aspect the driver exposes is Press to Magnify or Press to Select. We created probably two dozen haptic feedback Trackpoint designs. They improved novice performance and were loved by the special needs community. I did a preliminary study that showed how novices selected faster with it; the product group saw no need to spend the money for that. We made a science experimental test bed to teach physics that never shipped; we made many versions of multi-Trackpoint keyboards that never shipped. We made many other things too- a versatile pointing device for the table called Russian tea mouse allowed for full hand, thumb, finger, or in-the-palm use. We made pen like stalks that allowed selection without taking hands off the keyboard. We made devices that used one set of sensors to run two input devices. We made an electormechanical design used by one special user. We found that brushing th e top instead of pressing it could give amazing dynamic range, at the expense of having to cycle the finger for long selections. The joystick for this had no deadband, it had an exquisite sensitivity and control Ö we never made an inkeyboard device that shipped with this alternative set of algorithms and scenario. I designed better grippy top ideas that never made it; also better sensitivity solutions that never made it too. And I hate to say it but there are many other improvements that I made or would like to make that I could elaborate further on but will stop hereÖ..

This is why I want a split keyboard with a trackpoint for each hand, and a trackball in the middle, and maybe some scroll wheels somewhere in easy reach to boot. There are so many possibilities once you get analog input devices whose semantic output you can control. (That is, I want to hold a modifier and move the pointer to adjust my window size/position, or change my photoshop brush, or move the cursor around, or adjust the volume, or perform undo/redo, or scroll around in the current viewport, or tweak colors, or...)
« Last Edit: Fri, 17 October 2014, 18:17:24 by jacobolus »

Offline Matias

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 18:55:45 »
Thanks for the link.  Bill Buxton was my professor BTW.

I get really angry reading stuff like this.  I honestly don't understand why big companies spend so much money doing great R&D, and then demonstrate a complete lack of care when the time comes to deliver it as a product.

If the senior execs at IBM don't give a sh*t about their products, they've earned and deserve the disdain of their customers.



Read this:
http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/bibuxton/buxtoncollection/detail.aspx?id=60

Quote
The ones that got away are more poignant. I designed adaptive algorithms we were exploring- we were able to raise the tracking plateau by 50% for some people, and if we had had the go ahead we could have made that stable and increased performance tremendously. It seems some people used tendon flex to improve pointing- we found this looked like overshoot and we had trouble making the adaptive algorithms stable in the time box we gave it. We made a special application that was a game people played to improve their pointing Ėas their game play improved the transfer function improved too! We made a surgical tool that used a Trackpoint to allow tremor-free use of a camera from a laparoscope. We made a selector for the FAA to do ground traffic control that saved a multihundred million dollar contract for IBM with the government. I would have loved the product to change cursor movement approach for form filling, text editing and graphical applications; again that could probably double performance. Yes, I s till want to do it NOW. We built a gesture language into the Trackpoint that can be accessed in the firmware; the only aspect the driver exposes is Press to Magnify or Press to Select. We created probably two dozen haptic feedback Trackpoint designs. They improved novice performance and were loved by the special needs community. I did a preliminary study that showed how novices selected faster with it; the product group saw no need to spend the money for that. We made a science experimental test bed to teach physics that never shipped; we made many versions of multi-Trackpoint keyboards that never shipped. We made many other things too- a versatile pointing device for the table called Russian tea mouse allowed for full hand, thumb, finger, or in-the-palm use. We made pen like stalks that allowed selection without taking hands off the keyboard. We made devices that used one set of sensors to run two input devices. We made an electormechanical design used by one special user. We found that brushing th e top instead of pressing it could give amazing dynamic range, at the expense of having to cycle the finger for long selections. The joystick for this had no deadband, it had an exquisite sensitivity and control Ö we never made an inkeyboard device that shipped with this alternative set of algorithms and scenario. I designed better grippy top ideas that never made it; also better sensitivity solutions that never made it too. And I hate to say it but there are many other improvements that I made or would like to make that I could elaborate further on but will stop hereÖ..

This is why I want a split keyboard with a trackpoint for each hand, and a trackball in the middle, and maybe some scroll wheels somewhere in easy reach to boot. There are so many possibilities once you get analog input devices whose semantic output you can control. (That is, I want to hold a modifier and move the pointer to adjust my window size/position, or change my photoshop brush, or move the cursor around, or adjust the volume, or perform undo/redo, or scroll around in the current viewport, or tweak colors, or...)


Offline jacobolus

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 17 October 2014, 19:38:46 »
I think this is true at almost every big company. Electronics companies have gotten really good at building products that optimize particular specification numbers: megahertz or megapixels or contrast ratios or refresh rates, etc. But while Iím sure their engineering teams have fine understanding, as institutions they seem to be incapable of thinking critically about what those numbers actually mean, what tradeoffs are involved, or what their customers actually need. Then they end up completely ignoring even more important metrics. Then when they start trying to make software, it all goes to hell.

Iíve decided itís not worth worrying about; Iím just thankful about the numbers optimization (not to mention continual price decreases). It is a bit unfortunate though, because computers could be much more empowering with a bit more long-term thinking and up-front design effort and a bit less influence from marketing.

Speaking of IBM, did you see this? http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=63415
« Last Edit: Fri, 17 October 2014, 19:41:30 by jacobolus »

Offline bhtooefr

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #14 on: Sun, 19 October 2014, 07:05:53 »
You know, I wonder how many of the patents that are critical to the modern TrackPoint IV strategy are actually valid still.

I mean, I see some more recent patents - US 6198472 for Z-axis on the TP4 (which enables press-to-select and some other gestures, and is critical to a TrackPoint IV clone) (this was for something else), US 7432908 and 8120578 for the calibration mechanism (which are actually newer patents than the original TrackPoint IV) - but really, other than the Z-axis, US 5570111 is the critical one here, to at least get the TrackPoint III-era negative inertia transfer function, and it's expired (if I'm right, it expired 2013-10-29). Even going off of the "you have 21 years after releasing the hardware" absolute safest rule, in case there's other applicable patents, it's 2015-10 - they filed that patent the same month that they released the TrackPoint III in the ThinkPad 755CE.

Seeing that Bill Buxton is working at Microsoft now doesn't give me hope for him being given time to work on further pointing stick development, sadly.

I'm also wondering, given that the actual sensing hardware is being mass-produced... what about an open source firmware for pointing sticks (this is getting awfully tangential for this thread, mind you)? Could be interesting to have a platform to enable research, play with the transfer function, add functionality that IBM never did...

Also, it is worth noting that Alps has literally every exposed feature of the TrackPoint IV except for negative inertia in their pointing sticks and associated drivers. The DualPoint on my work Latitude E6430 has press-to-select (meaning they've got a Z-axis), variable stick sensitivity, middle button scrolling (OK, it doesn't work as well as IBM/Lenovo's drivers for that), and all of that jazz... just missing negative inertia.

TrackPoint IV debuted in the ThinkPad 770 (from 1997-10), so even ignoring an exhaustive patent search, we're free and clear (except for possible design patents on the button layout, which are less important (I prefer the ergonomics of the button layout that debuted in the X20, from 2000-09, and was used with minimal modification up through the Ivy Bridge machines (and is apparently re-appearing in the Broadwell machines), but it's not critical, and there's other ways to get those ergonomics)) to clone the crap out of it after 2018-10.
« Last Edit: Sun, 19 October 2014, 08:01:25 by bhtooefr »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #15 on: Sun, 19 October 2014, 14:54:06 »
Seeing that Bill Buxton is working at Microsoft now doesn't give me hope for him being given time to work on further pointing stick development, sadly.
Bill Buxton never worked on pointing sticks. Heís just a guy who has spent his life researching human interface devices. Check out his website sometime though: good stuff there.

Ted Selker was the guy who worked on the trackpoint at IBM (starting before he was at IBM). He left IBM to become a professor like 15 years ago.

Offline bhtooefr

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #16 on: Sun, 19 October 2014, 19:17:07 »
My bad, I somehow didn't catch that the entire thing was quoting Ted Selker. (Bill Buxton's site is quite interesting, though.)

Offline l33tnerd

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Re: Please add a Trackpoint to the Laptop Pro
« Reply #17 on: Tue, 21 October 2014, 07:34:50 »
For the record, I'm looking at a Mini Quiet Pro, but a proper TrackPoint would be an insta-buy.