‘QWERT or ‘1,2,4,8,16’?

Before I start this, I  just know you’re going to say,

Yeah?  So what else is new?”

Well, it’s new to me  and is especially relevant  given my newly acquired inability  to use a standard QWERT  keyboard owing to  isual problems created by  what I call  my Brain Crash known in the vernacular  as ‘acquired brain injury’.

Here’s a clip from the Wikipedia Which explains the who what where why and when. >>>

A keyset or chorded keyboard (also called a chorded keyset, chord keyboard or chording keyboard) is a computer input device that allows the user to enter characters or commands formed by pressing several keys together, like playing a “chord” on a piano. The large number of combinations available from a small number of keys allows text or commands to be entered with one hand, leaving the other hand free. A secondary advantage is that it can be built into a device (such as a pocket-sized computer or a bicycle handlebar) that is too small to contain a normal-sized keyboard.

A chorded keyboard minus the board, typically designed to be used while held in the hand, is called a keyer. Douglas Engelbart introduced the chorded keyset as a computer interface in 1968 at what is often called “The Mother of All Demos“.

There’s also a highly relevant post on the Teague Labs  webpage, to wit >>>

dougDoug Engelbart’s contributions to computing and human-computer interaction have been phenomenal. In what’s been named “the mother of all demos,” Doug and his team introduced the world to the mouse, video conferencing, hypertext, multi-pointer collaborative interfaces, and dynamic file linking (all in 1968!). If you’ve never watched the videos of the demo, definitely check them all out.

However, what’s often left out was an equally-important input device opposite the mouse, the chorded keyboard. Using this input, the user could type and issue key commands using only one hand. This left the other hand free to navigate with the mouse. Unfortunately, since there’s a pretty steep learning curve to using a chorded keyboard, it never really caught on.

Which isn’t to say   absolutely no one was interested in  a non-qwert  keyboard.

Says Teague Labs  >>>

As designers, we all know that on-screen soft keyboards are cumbersome and rather slow to use due to their lack of physical texture and haptic feedback. And with the continual rise of touch screens on phones, tablets, and laptops, we got excited about giving the chorded keyboard another chance!

Here’s what makes this little keyboard so exciting:

  • One handed use.
  • Bring it up anywhere by putting down all 5 fingers.
  • Large hit area per key (since there are only 5 keys to press) allows for blind/touch-typing operation.
  • Contextual feedback to make learning easier (possible letters are shown at each level).
  • Drag anywhere by pressing all 5 fingers down and moving your hand.
  • Cancel a mid-phase chorded keypress by pressing all 5 fingers.
  • Issuing keypress on touch-up allows users to type at any speed.

TRY IT OUT YOURSELF

Ok, enough build-up. :) If you have a tablet (android or iPad) handy,
give the chorded keyboard a try here!

Of course, this project is completely open source for you to play with and build upon. View the html and javascript source code directly in the demo to see how it works and incorporate it into your own projects.

Note:  although I can to a very limited extent  use a standard keyboard, most of my posts  are achieved through  voice transcription software, which makes for the occasional  (very interesting 😉 mistake)

Jon Newton — myblogdammit

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