Unfortunately the name of the second keyboard evades me, but as a single-finger input it was fairly efficient, and I believe targeted at disabled people with limited mobility.
It's a bit buggy and it could be hugely optimized, e.g. by placing the options to the right in the center instead of aligning them on top, and you could probably do something like make the keys a certain shape so you are less likely to accidentally select another letter as you move to the right, but the basic idea is there.
Gripes: it's not great for symbol input (you have to remember all sorts of crazy zigzaggy patterns, or pull up a list which defeats the whole point of not taking up half the screen) and auto-capitalisation doesn't really work. But I use it as my regular keyboard and it does the job.
Second, if we're willing to make people learn a different keycap arrangement, why aren't we willing to make them learn a different physical layout? I suspect a completely different physical layout would likely reduce the error rate from confusion between keycap arrangements (e.g., you'll still have to use QWERTY).
Anyone remember "Fitaly"? It was a big timesaver on my Compaq iPaq. From Wikipedia:
FITALY is a keyboard layout specifically optimized for stylus or touch-based input. The design places the most common letters closest to the centre to minimize distance travelled while entering a word. The name, FITALY, is derived from the letters occupying the second row in the layout (as QWERTY comes from the first row of standard keyboards)...
The aim of the design is to optimise text entry by organising keys to minimise key-to-key finger movement, allowing faster input through one-finger entry (compared to 10 fingers required to type efficiently on QWERTY layout). As compared to the 3-row QWERTY keyboard, FITALY has 5 rows with at most 6 letters in a row (as against 10 on QWERTY).
Keys are arranged based on individual frequencies of letters in the English language, and the probability of transitions.
I am a Swype user and love the product, but I'm reasonably fast at typing on it because I know the QWERTY layout like the back of my hand. Switching to a new layout would bring me back to a crawl. I'd probably be better off typing on a 9-digit pre-smartphone keypad at that point.
Cool things to consider though. I love the idea of an alternate and more efficient keyboard, but at around 140wpm, the idea of mentally and physically training myself to learn a new one at this stage in the game is sub-optimal.
This got me thinking - what if we made a product like this that was given to children, that gradually mutated over time, learning from the usage? Ideally by the time they get to high school they would have these input devices that more organically map to their brains and they would be able to effortlessly type at extreme speeds. We might even be able to solve the sharing problem if the configuration is pure software, like the keyboard with OLED displays in each button. But that also might not be necessary if they were portable/virtual/wearable such that it would be natural to carry at all times.
I've used Dvorak on all my computers for about 10 years, but my phones are still QWERTY. I've tried switching my phone to Dvorak, but found that the typos were much worse (because dvorak clusters all the most used letters on home row, which is close to the "worst" swype layout in the article).
For the times I tried Dvorak on the phone, retraining myself was indeed cumbersome, but I don't think it was too bad. I thought that it would be easier, since I had Dvorak in my brain, but the muscle memory for hitting a key with a certain finger moving a certain direction is totally different from swiping or taping a certain location on the screen.
But people who are only now getting into tech (and kids) can learn this layout as a first layout. Within a generation, it's possible to have people using entirely this ultra-efficient keyboard.
IMHO, the only downside, is that it does not take into consideration non-english. I use the same keyboard for English/Spanish, but I suspect that the new layout will not perform equally well on all latin-derived languages that currently use the same qwerty layout.
I think this is because you're looking at the keyboard anyway. My guess is that whatever layout you use, it won't be hard to memorize when it's right in front of your face as you use it.
That had hexagonal keys and used the ATOMIK layout. It also focussed much more on shape, with the intention being that once you were expert, you could write words without looking at the keyboard, as the layout was just for guidance. You didn't actually have to start on the letter as long as the shape was right.
> Back in the Day...
> “Turn your pagers to 1993.” -Christopher Wallace
One thing I've found is that a layout that is highly optimized for touch typing is terrible for swiping. I touch-type Colemak on hardware keyboards; for those who don't know, it's a layout optimized for fast and ergonomic typing in English (there are variants for some other languages), without being as different from QWERTY as Dvorak is. SwiftKey supports Colemak out of the box for English, so I tried it. I normally use SwiftKey Flow for writing long bits of text on my tablet.
My experience with Flow and Colemak was that the rate of errors was much higher -- there were far more ambiguities, mainly because many of the most common letters are on the home row (arst neio), and so you're often just swiping back and forth across the home row, which could mean anything. You also end up having to swipe farther, because of more lateral movement from one end of the keyboard to the other, and less top-to-bottom movement.
I'd be interested in hearing the experiences of anyone who's tried swiping on a Dvorak layout.
One final note, if anyone hasn't seen MessageEase, they should check it out. It's a compelely different model for typing that involves a very compact and optimized layout to minimize finger movement, as well as a mixture of tapping and swiping. If it had the benefit of SwiftKey's language model, I'd use it for everything, but as it stands, I use it mainly where completion is not available (e.g. in terminal sessions).
My current project is building an Atreus keyboard which will have the QGMLWY layout in hardware, hopefully bypassing all the compatibility issues.
They recently won a "lasting impact" award for this paper.
Also, Cliff Kushler and Randall Marsden are the inventors of Swype, not the authors of the paper you cited.
My hunch, upon starting to read this article & looking at the patterns, is that as soon as you arrive at an optimized keyboard layout, you have created a new kind of cursive & you can dispense with the keyboard. You might need one more optimization step to do it, but you can unfold the strokes patterns & there you have a kind of shorthand.
I often don't know how to correctly spell a word. On T9 it can be difficult to get a prediction if you don't know how many Cs & Ss there are in "necessary".
I find that SwiftKey (through which this comment is typed) is very good at correcting my showing as I swipe.
B C D F G H J K L M
^ # A E I O U . ,
N P Q R S T V W X Y Z
I can see how the approach here might not be that optimal in technical terms but I think there's huge value in its conceptual simplicity. I find it easy to imagine switching to it and getting up to decent speeds in a reasonably short timeframe, which is more than I can say for other layouts I've looked at over the years. Well done, both of you.