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Computer scientists design new keyboard layout on touch screen devices (w/ video)
Phys.Org ^ | 17 April 2013 | Staff / Provided by Max Planck Society

Posted on 04/18/2013 10:46:06 AM PDT by Red Badger

The research team of Antti Oulasvirta at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics has created a new keyboard called KALQ that enables faster thumb-typing on touchscreen devices. They used computational optimization techniques in conjunction with a model of thumb movement to search among millions of potential layouts before identifying one that yields superior performance. A user study confirmed that, after a short amount of practice, users could type 34% faster than they could with a QWERTY layout.

Typing on today's mobile phones and tablets is needlessly slow. One limitation is that the QWERTY layout is ill-suited for tablets and other touchscreen devices when typing with the thumbs. Two-thumb typing is ergonomically very different from typing on a physical keyboard.

It has been established that normal users using a QWERTY on a touchscreen device are limited to typing at a rate of around 20 words per minute, which is slow compared to the rates achieved on physical keyboards. The researchers set out to create an alternative to QWERTY that offers substantial performance advantages for users. The researchers incorporated models of thumb movement into a computational optimization algorithm.

The researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and colleagues from the University of St Andrews and Montana Tech quickly realized that slight changes to the layout, like exchanging a few keys, would not be sufficient for a significant improvement. Words like "on, see, you, read, dear, immune, based", frequently used in texts, have to be typed on a split-QWERTY layout with a single thumb only, making the typing burdensome. This initiated the process to develop a layout for two-thumb text entry with the goal of improving typing performance and minimizing the strain for the thumbs.

Antti Oulasvirta says "The key to optimizing a keyboard for two thumbs is to minimize long sequences with a single thumb. We also want to place frequently used letters centrally close to each other. Experienced typists move their thumbs simultaneously: While one is typing, the other is approaching its next target. We derived a predictive model of this behaviour for the optimization method."

The computational optimization process had two goals: To minimize the moving time of the thumbs and to approximate alternating sides as well as possible. The result achieved by computational optimization was rather unexpected. In the new keyboard KALQ, all vowels, with the exception of the letter "y", are placed in the area for the right thumb, whereas the left thumb gets assigned more keys. To fully benefit from this layout, the users were trained to move their thumbs simultaneously. While one thumb is typing, the other one can move to its next target.

Per Ola Kristensson says "The legacy of QWERTY has trapped users with suboptimal text entry interfaces on mobile devices. However, before abandoning QWERTY, users rightfully demand a compelling alternative. We believe KALQ provides a large enough performance improvement to give users the incentive to switch and benefit from faster and more comfortable typing." Finally, the authors developed probabilistic error correction methods that took into account how thumbs move and also statistical knowledge about the texts users type.

Their error correction method enabled trained users to type more quickly while retaining an acceptable level of errors. With these improvements, users were able to reach 37 words per minute, which is the best ever reported for two-thumb typing on touchscreen devices, significantly more than the approximate 20 words on a split QWERTY that regular users can achieve. The researchers will present their work at the CHI 2013 conference in Paris on May 1st. CHI is the principal international forum for outstanding research and development in human-computer interaction. KALQ will be made available as a free app for Android-based smartphones at the beginning of May.

The new KALQ keyboard. Credit: MPI for Informatics


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Technical
KEYWORDS: computer; keyboard; smartphone; tablet; touchscreen; touchscreenkeyboard

1 posted on 04/18/2013 10:46:06 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: ShadowAce

pING!.........


2 posted on 04/18/2013 10:46:25 AM PDT by Red Badger (Want to be surprised? Google your own name......Want to have fun? Google your friend's names........)
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To: Red Badger

The tap keys on screen technology will be obsolete before this keyboard is adopted. More natural human computer interaction (HCI) devices are on the horizon.


3 posted on 04/18/2013 10:49:20 AM PDT by douginthearmy
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To: Red Badger

Good luck with that, Dvorak keyboard anyone?


4 posted on 04/18/2013 10:50:33 AM PDT by null and void (Republicans create the tools of oppression and Democrats use them. Gun confiscation enables tyranny.)
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To: Red Badger

Oh, goodie! More distracted people on the road and bumping into me in the mall!


5 posted on 04/18/2013 10:52:36 AM PDT by mc5cents
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To: null and void

We’ve got a guy at work that uses Dvorak. He probably has the most secure computer on site, even if you know his password you can’t type it in.


6 posted on 04/18/2013 10:52:44 AM PDT by discostu (Not just another moon faced assassin of joy.)
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To: Red Badger

I can type 110+ wpm on a qwerty. Match that with 2 thumbs only with *any* keyboard layout. I dare ya.


7 posted on 04/18/2013 10:58:30 AM PDT by Black Agnes
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To: Red Badger

yksy lrunpstf od fpp,rf yp gsil!


8 posted on 04/18/2013 11:02:40 AM PDT by kinsman redeemer (The real enemy seeks to devour what is good.)
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To: kinsman redeemer

rs buu¡


9 posted on 04/18/2013 11:05:16 AM PDT by mc5cents
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To: mc5cents

Good on ya!


10 posted on 04/18/2013 11:07:15 AM PDT by kinsman redeemer (The real enemy seeks to devour what is good.)
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To: mc5cents

Good on ya!


11 posted on 04/18/2013 11:07:20 AM PDT by kinsman redeemer (The real enemy seeks to devour what is good.)
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To: douginthearmy
More natural human computer interaction (HCI) devices are on the horizon.

Drum roll ...

And, for example, some of those devices are ...

12 posted on 04/18/2013 11:08:50 AM PDT by InterceptPoint
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To: Red Badger

Nope.


13 posted on 04/18/2013 11:09:22 AM PDT by Cyber Liberty (I am a dissident. Will you join me? My name is John....)
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To: InterceptPoint

Vulcan mind melding...


14 posted on 04/18/2013 11:09:46 AM PDT by Resolute Conservative
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To: null and void
...Dvorak keyboard...

I thought he was a Classical composer.

15 posted on 04/18/2013 11:10:04 AM PDT by Cyber Liberty (I am a dissident. Will you join me? My name is John....)
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To: Red Badger

I bet this bombs because no one is going to want to learn a new system. It was hard enough to learn to type the normal way.


16 posted on 04/18/2013 11:11:56 AM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: InterceptPoint

Eyeball trackers...voice...


17 posted on 04/18/2013 11:12:27 AM PDT by Cyber Liberty (I am a dissident. Will you join me? My name is John....)
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To: Cyber Liberty

Different Dvorak.


18 posted on 04/18/2013 11:21:36 AM PDT by null and void (Republicans create the tools of oppression and Democrats use them. Gun confiscation enables tyranny.)
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To: mc5cents; Revolting cat!; Slings and Arrows; JoeProBono
Oh, goodie! More distracted people on the road and bumping into me in the mall!

Hunt and peck. An addictive game for all ages!




19 posted on 04/18/2013 12:51:03 PM PDT by a fool in paradise (America 2013 - STUCK ON STUPID)
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To: a fool in paradise

20 posted on 04/18/2013 12:55:44 PM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: Red Badger

I get splitting the keyboard in two. I don’t get why the letters are re-arranged from traditional keyboard. That part makes no sense.


21 posted on 04/18/2013 12:56:54 PM PDT by kjam22 (my newest music video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7gNI9bWO3s)
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To: kjam22

Putting all the vowels, except ‘y’ on the right side along with the most used consonents on the left side gives a more ‘equal use’ or ‘ambidextrous feel’ to it.

There was a story in one of the ancient computer mags (Computer Shopper?) back in the 80’s about the origens of the ‘QWERTY’ keyboard layout.

It seems that the original typerwriters had a different letter layout than is now standard. But the typists of the day could type faster than the mechanics of the early typewriters could handle, getting keys jammed and slowing up productivity. So the engineers of the time came up with the QWERTY layout in order to effectively slow down the typists instead of making the typewriters faster! But that layout has been lost in history...........


22 posted on 04/18/2013 1:12:51 PM PDT by Red Badger (Want to be surprised? Google your own name......Want to have fun? Google your friend's names........)
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To: InterceptPoint
Leap Motion (leapmotion.com). Myo (getmyo.com)

Those are just the start.. there are a variety of other takes on the emerging technology. People won't be smudging up their screens much longer.

23 posted on 04/18/2013 1:35:45 PM PDT by douginthearmy
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