Hitachi develops one-button text input terminal

Hitachi has developed a prototype system that gives the ability to input simple messages into a computer to those unable to type. The system, called Mobile Den-no-shin, works with a custom computer that resembles a tablet PC and uses a single push-button for input.

It's a relatively slow process and so is best suited for short messages, said Kengo Ando, an IT consultant working at Hitachi's Ubiquitous Platform Group, who was demonstrating the system at the Hitachi IT Convention in Tokyo on Friday. He expects it to be used by people who cannot operate a computer keyboard, and to highlight that, a picture of the system in use showed an injured hospital patient typing out a message using the push button.

On the computer screen, a grid of Japanese hiragana characters is displayed in a block of 10 columns and 5 rows. Pushing the button once starts the system cycling through each of the columns highlighting groups of five characters in turn. When the column with the desired character is reached the user is required to push the button again. The system then cycles through each of the five characters in the column highlighting them one-by-one and the user can select a character by pressing the button again.

As each character is selected it is typed into a message area that sits above the on-screen keyboard on the display. The system also supports input of Japanese katakana characters, the Roman alphabet, numbers and Chinese characters used in Japan, Hitachi said.

Users can adjust the speed of the scanning cycle to between 0.5 seconds and 4.0 seconds, and the size of the on-screen font can also be changed. To make text input easier a number of preprogrammed messages, such as "yes," "no," "hello," "good-bye," "good morning" and "I don't understand," are also accessible and organized into categories.

In addition to typing messages on the screen, the computer can also send and receive e-mail, Ando said.

The computer is based on a Transmeta Crusoe processor and runs Midori Linux. Hitachi is still testing the system but plans to have it available in Japan by the end of this year. The price has yet to be decided but Ando said he expects it to cost around ¥400,000 (US$3,600).

According to Ando, the software used in the system is based on a package that Hitachi has been selling since 1997.

The company's Den-no-shin software works with the Internet Explorer browser and adds a series of large on-screen buttons that allow users to navigate Web sites with a push button. A variation of the software called Shinyuu is also available and offers a mouse-controlled keyboard, as well as mail and calendar software that has easy-to-read interfaces. It is also intended for people who find it difficult to use a conventional computer.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?