The traditional QWERTY keyboard is one of the few key tech components that have resiliently survived all attempts to be transformed or replaced entirely. But that may be set to change soon, at least for mobile devices, as scientists discovered a new keyboard layout they say will help users type 34% faster.
Dubbed KALQ, the layout was designed for mobile touchscreen devices by Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Informatics, in collaboration with the University of Saint Andrews in the UK. The layout was created based on computational optimization techniques applied to thumb movement patterns, resulting in a split keyboard that has 12 keys on the right and 16 on the left. The new design is called KALQ for the letters in the bottom row on the right side of the layout. The right side also includes all the vowels.
The new layout allows users to move both thumbs simultaneously: as one thumb is typing, the other is already moving towards its new target, which is ideal for a mobile device. This movement is not possible with the standard keyboard, which actually slows down thumb typing.
People using a standard QWERTY layout are able to write about 20 words per minute, according to scientists. But the redesigned, thumb-centric layout will allow users to type up to 34% faster. For instance, in individual testing KALQ was able to produce a typing rate of 37 words per minute, the fastest known rate for mobile phone text messaging.
Besides improving typing performance, the layout also considerably reduces the strain on your thumbs, as the scientists designed the keyboard so as to minimize long sequences that should be typed with only one thumb and placed letters frequently used in the same combinations close to each other.
The KALQ design will be officially unveiled at a Paris conference on May 1. The researchers hope to be able to release the new layout as a free Android download afterwards.
[Image via Gizmag]