I realised a while ago that since I spend so much of my life interacting with a computer, I should really invest significant effort into improving, even marginally, the ergonomics and bandwidth of the IO channel between my brain and the computer I am interacting with. This realisation and the ensuing quest for a better option led me to adopt the Ergodox EZ keyboard. This has been the most significant improvement to my day-to-day interactions with computers since learning Vim. It did take several months to adjust and a significant amount of effort went into designing the optimal layout to suit my needs, but the results have been incredible.
- I never need to look at the keyboard
- My WPM rate is sufficient that I can type almost as fast as I can think
- The palms of my hands never move (zero wrist flexion)
My keyboard layout can be found here https://github.com/Ganon-M/ergodox-vim-ubuntu
If any of you out there are heavy Vim users and want to take your ergonomic experience to the next level, I suggest taking a look at the above layout.
If you're trying to record verbatim what someone is saying, you could easily have to type much, much faster than that.
Stenographers are often required to type at least a hundred WPM faster than you type, and some people speak even faster than that. The demands are even higher when more than one person is talking at the same time and you're trying to record them both.
There are some tricks one could use to speed up plain old QWERTY, however. In particular, you could use macros. That's essentially what stenographers use on their special steno keyboards. A single chord will translate in to a full sentence. Likewise, you could trigger a macro on a QWERTY keyboard with a single chord and that can boost your WPM significantly, if you use a lot of them.
The vast majority of people are typing up some sort of copy or code, both of which are limited by thinking speed if you're anywhere above 80wpm or so.
Even writing a relatively casual e-mail I find myself limited by thought speed rather than typing. I can type a sustained 120-150wpm but frankly it's mostly a party trick, I don't think it makes me any more productive than someone typing 60-80wpm.
Edit: I stand by this. Auctioneers do provide a good counter example but much of what they say is just repeated phrases.
Here's an example of a professional stenographer dealing with 300+ wpm days (search "300wpm" in this page): https://jadeluxe.wordpress.com/2014/12/30/year-in-career-201...
Yes they do. 230 wpm is close to the upper limit for natural speech, but bursts of speech at that rate are quite common if the speaker is in a heightened emotional state or they are trying to convey a lot of information quickly.
Research into subtitling (closed captioning) by the BBC and OFCOM found that live programmes normally have bursts of speech at over 200 wpm. The BBC article below includes a sample clip of a presenter reading a news report at 230 wpm; while it sounds rushed and the presenter occasionally stumbles over a word, it does not sound completely unnatural.
Average speaker is 150, an auctioneer is 250-400, the fastest person. The fastest talkers male and female can recite over 500,600 words per minute.
People can certainly and some people while exited/upset may.
Someone speaking a language like Chinese, where most of the words are single syllables, could probably speak a lot faster than someone speaking, say, German, where the words are often super long.
That's just my mostly uneducated guess, though. It'd be interesting to see some real-world comparisons of this.
I realise 500/600 looks like 5/6, but 500,600 reads to me as 500600. Maybe | is a good unambiguous character to use for "or".
As Y_Y already indicated:
> I realise 500/600 looks like 5/6 ….
If we're going to fuss about typography, these things:
> 500-600 wpm; 35-75 Kph; 2-3 grams.
are hyphens, and you want an en-dash: 500–600 wpm instead of 500-600 wpm.
Most alternative keyboard layouts reduce hand motion by putting the most used letters on the home row.
(This is especially important in programming, where I sometimes lose track of where I was in my mind while I type.)
In particular I'm always amazed that, in my experience, the vast majority of the professional software programmers I encounter never bothered to learn how to touchtype proficiently. I personally use the dvorak layout but I can understand staying on QWERTY for convenience but not knowing how to touchtype is very hard for me to rationalize.
Regarding the Ergodox I have a question, do you really find that "matrix" key layout (or "ortholinear" as they call it on their website) is really an improvement? It never made a lot of sense to me and when I tried a similar keyboard a few years back (admittedly for a short amount of time) I really didn't like it. The website says:
> When you extend your finger, it doesn't go sideways, does it? So why are the keys on your keyboard not directly on top of each other?
But... They do go sideways when I have a keyboard in front of me, my hands are not perfectly straight and parallel on the keyboard lest my wrist or shoulders end up in a weird position. Now of course in this case with a split keyboard you can move and orient them any way you like but I always wondered if there was actual science behind that choice or if it's just "non-linear layout == old mechanical typewriter leftover == bad".
I've been using an Atreus  at work for several months now, it's a 40% angled ortho keyboard. I find my wrists and arms are at a natural angle, similar to how the would be on a standard keyboard, with the advantage of the linear finger movements of an ortho. The chording definitely requires some extra brainpower at times, especially since I still use a standard laptop keyboard on the go. I guess it's good mental exercise. I'm debating trying a 60% Atreus or one of the split keyboards next.
(It's also a fun and pretty easy project to build your own keyboard, and a point of pride harkening back to when craftsmen would build their own tools.)
Split keyboards like the Ergodox fix this by splitting and angling each hand's individual keyboard.
But... standard keyboards are already angled for your hands. The [U,J,M] column is a perfect mapping of the curl of your right index finger.
The real issue is that typing tutorials for some reason encourage left hand finger positions forming a curls that are completely orthogonal to the natural curl of your left finger / left wrist position.
QWERTY tutorials encourage [E,D,C], when you really should be using [E,D,X] or even [R,D,C].
I type (in Dvorak) using the columns [W,S,Z], [E,D,X], etc. and am completely happy with the columns of a normal keyboard.
Do people actually type like that? My hand ends up in a very awkward position if I try to hit X (in qwerty, Q in dvorak) with my ring finger while it's trivial with my middle finger. Actually it's pretty funny because in the illustration above it does look like the hands are sprouting from somebody's chest!
+ Except specially-designed ergonomic keyboards of course, but if you need one you'll know.
I meant "[E,D,X] or even [R,D,X]" of course
I can't remember a single programmer I've worked with who has had to look at their hands while typing except for special characters.
I have to concur. Many programmers don't know how to type. Possibly most. Also, whenever I bring the layout up, the most common objection is that it's impossible because they could be touching computers that aren't their own, as if every programmer would be a system administrator as well…
I have yet to be forced into Azerty or Qwerty… except when playing TellTale games. Apparently they have found the One True Layout, and it is Qwerty.
They went back to typewriter layout, and now claim that infrared keyswitches are the secret to ergonomics. Complete With Marketing Copy Capitalizing Every Word. It's so bad that I genuinely thought some fly-by-night Chinese manufacturer had stolen their domain and logo. But nope, it's still the same people.
So today I found out that I own a legacy TECK model. I have visited their site some time ago the last time I remapped the keys with the online utility, so I'm baffled they went back to the century old typewriter layout, it's somewhat like they abjured what they professed few years ago. Bah...
I suppose they expect to sell more units of this more conventional layout.
Also lots of mechanical keyboards from companies other than Truly Ergonomic work fine with Kailh switches.
So I think it's the crappy TE firmware and not the switches.
I like the layout though, so I persist with using it at work. I much prefer my Ergodox at home though.
I simply do not understand the "increased performance" claims people in these situations make. There is no way.
All keyboards have fundamentally arbitrary layouts, some are just slightly more or less arbitrary than others.
I use dvorak, on an Ergodox at home and a TECK at work. My phone keyboard is changed to dvorak .
The only times I have to use someone else's keyboard, it's only for maybe a word/login here and there, I'm not typing novels.
I'm very happy I've switched to dvorak on ortholinear keyboards.
 Dvorak is not a great layout for phones, it's good when using two thumbs, but all the switching from left to right side is bad for single-finger or single-thumb typing.
I use dvorak, and I've found it a hassle many times just switching the layout of the various PCs I'm using into dvorak. Worth it, but a hassle. At least the dvorak layout is semi-standard though.
Custom dvorak is a bridge too far...
It's fairly easy to switch your laptop's layout via software, the OS will just remap the keys.
So you don't have to carry another physical keyboard.
55cN is a little on the high side for force needed to depress a piano key ("touchweight"). But the piano is velocity sensitive, and pressing with the minimum force won't get you any sound. Playing loud notes takes substantially more force.
Can you quantify this? E.g. through https://typing-speed-test.aoeu.eu/?lang=en
I don't know how fast you think.
FWIW I find that my quicker-than-average typing is still definitely not always fast enough to keep up with what I want to write down.
My "cruising" typing speed is about 80WPM and I don't think I ever feel like I'm typing too slow, for instance while writing this comment I never felt like my mind was getting ahead of my fingers. Maybe I'm a bit slow in the head, who knows...
In the world of guitars one can spend thousands of dollars having the perfect custom guitar built. I've often wondered why software developers don't invest as much in bespoke custom keyboards for exactly the same reason you have come to realize. I definitely think there's a market for it.
I think some of the variables include key layout, key switch type, keycap shape & material, key dimensions, the material of the keyboard itself, type of connector, LED colors & placement, extras like auxiliary displays, knobs, switches, sliders, and touchpads. I could continue...
I _so_ wish I could think as fast as I can type.
I wish the author had explained at the start what problem this solves rather than launching right into an explanation of how it works.
Some getting-started tips:
- The first thing you need is to touch all 5 fingers in a comfortable position to the screen. This activates the view that you were expecting to see. (This info is buried in the second to last paragraph of intro text.)
- To reset the buttons' positions (and get to pick new locations), activate another keyboard and then activate this one again.
- The arpeggio versions with two options (such as "tab/del") are directional: A->B is tab and B->A is del, where A and B are two of the five buttons.
- "del" is the equivalent of "backspace", not "delete".
- Backspace is supposed to be the arpeggio version of L, which is "- ##--" (index and middle finger), with middle finger first. So what you do is: press and hold middle finger, wait, press index finger, then release both. Do not release middle before you press index, do not be too fast, and do not be too slow. It's easy to be too fast or too slow, so keep practicing I guess...
- That mysterious little 6th button is the repeat key (this is also mentioned somewhere in the middle of the text).
- All keys disappearing when you tap next to it is not a bug but a feature: it allows you to use a second finger (while the first one hides the keyboard UI) to tap something behind the keyboard, such as opening a menu or selecting text.
- The lowering of audio volume (and perhaps some stuttering) is not your hitting the key combo for volume changes, but it's your music app detecting that this app is playing sound or vibrating or whatever and lowering its volume temporarily in response.
This is a great quality when hands are busy with something else, like holding a bike's handlebar, or an aircraft control rod.
It's also likely a good setup for some smart glove type of input device, where there are no keys to press but finger motions are detected.
If fingertips are allowed to change the position, a few more keys allow for easier chords and much more characters, all using the same 5 fingers. They can be touch-typed even easier than a normal keyboard.
On the AG, instead of a combination of buttons to produce a keypress, you have 8 keys (buttons?) that can rock in two directions, plus thumb buttons, including red and green "shifts" that work as Fn keys. Normally you type text, pressing red shift you input numbers and arithmetic symbols, with green shift the rest of the symbols. It was great for games and got past my regular QWERTY speed writing English text after a couple of months.
Now, if you write in more than one language, you're screwed. Using other layouts would make the already difficult task for developing muscle memory even more annoying. I tried it with US-Intl layout (as I was used to it on QWERTY) to have a unique layout for multiple languages, but it quickly becomes unusable: to produce an "À", I don't remember exactly, but required 2+2 or 3+2 simultaneous keypresses, plus US-Intl is implemented different in different OS, so sometimes you have to take into account dead keys, sticky keys, sometimes not. And don't get me started on shortcuts and programming...
Would be nice to see an upgrade with a working shift key (the modifier is not actually sent) and a wireless option...
The question is really: how much of your day do you spend writing prose rather than code? For me, I have a lot of instant messaging to do with coworkers in remote offices, or emails to write or respond to, or design documents to write. In this case, stenography really helps me out, and since I've learned it, I might as well use it for coding where it's convenient (mostly comments but also for writing some new lines of code.)
Should be painful to learn (obviously), but then should beat on-screen keyboards because it won't require tapping (and even looking) at the screen at all.
It may be argued that we now have mouses with 5+ buttons, when Engelbart himself scaled back from 5 to 3 for the mouse hand, and we're now used to keeping one hand on the keyboard where we commonly do two- and three-finger chords, but there's a certain level of facility that I think can still only be realized with a dedicated chording keyset.
Engelbart's keysets could also provide two-way communication (by puffing air under the keys) to do things like prompt for certain responses when mousing over certain screen elements, which still seems slightly out of reach for smartphones' limited "haptic feedback" (not that I saw that mentioned here, just something that came to mind when I saw this was an implementation for touchscreen devices).
Cameras, etc could be used to read our gestures:
Same with pinch-zoom or scroll. Or when working with a 3D model, making a hand shape as if you were gripping a globe, you should be able to twist and rotate objects on screen.
I remember posting excitedly about this on Slashdot 15 years ago and am just remembering it now. This should be easily achievable with modern libraries to get basic detection working.
Although some abhor the idea and want more complex keystrokes chords, for myself I think there are specific gestures I consider intuitive and wouldn't have to particularly learn anything new.
How does it compare to the Soli?
I would really like to have the ability to install asetniop on Linux, and have the layout be configurable.
And I bought a CyKey, so both devices seen in this image in your link:
But it is enormously slow; it's approximately like typing with one slow finger, with writing being enough let alone punctuation.
I've seen some commercial keyboards like this, but they're incredibly expensive and non-mechanical (mostly geared to people who are disabled/have limited or no use of one hand).
My theory is that the learning curve of a one handed keyboard that is just a mirror would be easier than a totally new layout like the FrogPad or the example linked here.
Reprogramming an existing split model means I could also build both the left/right hand versions and try to learn both.
The Matias 508 is one such http://www.508keyboard.com/ , are there others?
One feature you might want in such an arrangement is a capactive sensor in the mouse: https://plus.google.com/105224327306964621564/posts/51Jkbioc...
After the initial 'how does this work' it's almost trivially easy to create all kinds of new "shortcuts"!
Even though I'm right handed, it worked best on my left hand. This is because of how surprisingly nice it was to use my dominant hand to do something (use a mouse, eat, etc), while still typing with my left.
Alas I assume the reason this never caught on was due to the learning curve. People will never leave qwerty. Also it was pretty slow. When I built this back in 2005, I was thinking for PDAs and early cell phones and was only competing against T9 and early palm keyboards. After a few months of practice, I never topped about 45 wpm.
> Chorderoy is a an attempt at crafting an optimal method of text input for mobile and wearable devices aimed at those who enjoy the rewards that come with free climbing steep learning curves.
Coincidentally, today I have been testing what my keyboard can handle in regards of how many simultaneously pressed keys it recognizes at most. (I know it depends on particular keyboard hardware and its "ghosting", but it was fun to try out . I've squeezed 12 keys max.)
 in penti vocabulary, meaning progressions of several held and released keys, mainly to circumvent hassle of definition what timespan is still "parallel" and what "progression". Releasing the last key could be the end of progression and produce output.
 like http://www.teach-ict.com/as_a2_ict_new/ocr/AS_G061/312_softw...
 http://myfonj.github.io/tst/keyboard-simultaneous-keys.html not perfect, since some keys or OS key combos produces funky results…
The rules are:
1. The last key must be pressed AT LEAST 80 ms later than the second.
2. The last key must be pressed MAXIMALLY 240 ms.
A backspace (DEL) is generated with middle and index finger.
While pressing middle and index finger simultaneously (or longer than 240 ms)
gives an "l", you get a backspace when you first press the middle finger (as
long as you like, but at least 80 ms), then make a short tap with the index
finger and immediately release both fingers.
The good: fantastic design and build quality. Magneto/optical key sensors way better than any key switch on a normal keyboard. Really surprisingly easy to learn and adjust to "almost-qwerty" default layout. Nice for long-form typing, fingers roll around very short movements, very comfortably.
The bad: huge on a desk, they are really chunky boxes and there's a big power supply and controller box. Basically unusable for one-handed hunt-and-peck typing. Really annoying to use as a mouse (can be done - one side middle finger does big movements, the other side does fine movements, but it's still stepped keyboard-based-mousing), but also annoying to move hand from keyboard to mouse and back because it involves careful lifting of fingers out of, or into, the key-wells - fingers are surrounded by keys you don't want to press. Because of that, can't hover hand over keyboard. Ever. Awkward unless you have perfect typing style - can't habitually press a key with the "wrong" finger, now there's a correct finger for every key and no other option. Expensive even then before their big price hikes and production problems, even second hand.
My only issue with specialized keyboards is that I have at least 6 I use nearly every day, not all of them are easily replaced, so much harder to go back and forth between styles than to just have one style you can use.
 Home workstation work workstation, personal laptop, work laptop, home server, work machines in the lab.
That is, even on QUERTY on a laptop keyboard I get significantly higher typing speeds due to the use of more than 4 fingers combined with the lower travel distance (measured relative to the target precision), along with the distinct tactile feedback of whether you hit the key or one next to it. Tactile feedback, like a blackberry keyboard, would allow even higher speeds and, most importantly, allow to keep the eyes off the thumbs, as they are needed to use typos as feedback and also to correct these typos.
Here's a HN-er ordering one in Jan 2015 and being surprised that the expected shipping date is March 2015:
Maybe this comment will save someone else the frustration.
I'm amazed at how poor my typing skills in android are, after years and years of constant use. Something just is not working!
I found a great mouse solution, a Logitech trackball mouse that sits in my RH sling  -- so good I expect to switch to it after recovery. But the kbd...
 Logitech MX ERGO Advanced Wireless Trackball
Unfortunately the thumb is on the wrong part of the hand for this system to work on touchscreen (imho). Maybe it would be suitable for chimpanzees, or a hardware device like a twiddler.
Try this: hold your hand out in a fist and extend your middle, ring, and pinky straight out. Now try to flex each of the three extended fingers individually without moving the other two.
Now try the inverse: make a fist and try raising each finger individually without moving the other two. It's physiologically impossible because the muscle used for extension is shared between those fingers.
(Edit: extension is impossible, not contraction)