Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Successful keyboard test!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I'm not sure who "they" are, and I imagine this word value is up for debate, but the idea is nice.

This video is 2:16, or 136 seconds in length.  At 25 frames per second (I have no idea if that's the case, but it's what Youtube recommends), that's 3400 words.  Don't worry, I won't put you through that.  I just want you to know how valuable this video really is...

Thanks to the great folks over at the Mobileread.com forums, it is now possible to remap hotkey combinations and individual keys to just about any function we could need.  In this case the 5-way Left and Right keys have been paired with the Shift key to allow them to turn individual pages.

One unexpected benefit of this technique is that the keys retain their original functionality if used without the Shift key.  That is, pressing the Right-side 5-way button will jump to the next chapter in the book.  But pressing Shift and then the Right-side 5-way button will advance only one page.

That's great, but the goal of this project was to be able to do this without using the Kindle's onboard keypad at all, instead using a custom keyboard with big cushy buttons.

This video shows a successful test of the system.  There are some very subtle timing issues that will need to be ironed out, and it now becomes clear that an intermediate controller will be required to handle the key sequencing.  This entire process should be transparent to the user; a single keystroke should advance a page. Fortunately there are a host of very simple controllers on the market that will be able to accomplish this task.

We've still got a long way to go, but this was an important milestone.  We've shown that the Kindle can be controlled externally, using whatever buttons we may find convenient.  Once the sequencing and timing issues are resolved, we can move on to actually building the custom keyboard using buttons harvested from the V.Reader.

See you next time!

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