Goodbye QWERTY, hello faster typing with KALQ
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, and their colleagues from the University of St Andrews and Montana Tech claim to have developed a new keyboard for touch-screens that allows superfast thumb-typing, enabling you to type 34 percent faster than on 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 touch-screen devices when typing with the thumbs. Thumb typing is also ergonomically very different from typing on a physical keyboard.
Researchers said it has been established that normal users using a QWERTY on a touch-screen 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 computational optimisation process had two goals: To minimise the moving time of the thumbs and to approximate alternating sides as well as possible. 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 are trained to move their thumbs simultaneously. While one thumb is typing, the other one can move to its next target.
Finally, researchers developed probabilistic error correction methods that took into account how thumbs move and also statistical knowledge about how the texts users type.
KALQ is expected is to be made available as a free app for Android-based smart-phones.