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Handhelds Hardware

Five Finger Keyboards 177

Posted by CmdrTaco
Tijaska writes "Mobile devices are becoming more capable all the time, but their small screens and keyboards limit their usefulness. This article shows ways in which five buttons located on the edges of a mobile could be used in combinations to generate 325 or many more different characters, making a full-sized keyboard unnecessary. If that sounds like a tall story, remember the case of the retired 93 year old telegraph operator who used a Morse key to send a text message faster than a teenager could send it via mobile phone (see here)."
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Five Finger Keyboards

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  • Adult Chat (Score:5, Funny)

    by coren2000 (788204) on Monday July 23, 2007 @09:58AM (#19955405) Journal
    This has "Adult Chat" written all over it.

    Well, along the sides I guess.
  • One finger keyboard (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dada21 (163177) <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Monday July 23, 2007 @09:59AM (#19955413) Homepage Journal
    I've been using PDAs forever -- starting with my original Newton MessagePad (I do miss it). Over the years, I've become accustomed to the tiny on-screen keyboards with no tactile feedback. I grow my right hand thumbnail long, file it down so I have a bit of an edge leaning left, and I can type VERY fast with it -- probably faster than the average layperson on a regular PC keyboard.

    As my friends slowly pick up PDA phones without "real" keyboards, they've also mimicked my thumbnail mod and found they can type incredibly fast, especially with the faster processor PDAs (HTC Trinity is what I use) which offer almost no delay when typing. Disable any sound response, and you can type even faster.

    I'm sure that the iPhone will make huge leaps in efficiency, but I'm happy with where I am with the "old fashioned" touchscreen typing. I've blogged, read and written on slashdot, and posted to forums from my tiny 320x240 screen, all because of a simple thumbnail mod.

    Try it -- it may save you quite a bit of time, and not cause you to have to learn some new fandangled invention.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MightyYar (622222)
      I, um, bite my nails.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GreggBz (777373)
      Freaky +1
    • by monk.e.boy (1077985) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:34AM (#19955857) Homepage

      I worked with blind and partially sighted kids who use 5 finger keyboards. They use a 'chord' system, like a guitar or piano.

      The chords kinda look like the letter you are spelling, so to create a J you would hold the keys that kinda make that shape, I forget the exact sequence, but it was pretty easy to use.

      But, the 5 finger keyboard was used like a regular keyboard, it was placed on a desk. I dunno how this would work if you had to hold it at the same time. Much harder I'd imagine.

      monk.e.boy

      • Yeah, if they were smart, they'd make it a FOUR-finger keyboard. Since most people have one finger that's quite a bit shorter than the others and more suited to keeping the device in the hands.
        • The first one of these I saw used a six key system. You had one key for each finger, and two for the thumb. This gave you 2^4 (16) combinations from the fingers, and two modifiers, giving a total of 48 keys. TFA suggests using the order in which you press buttons, so holding 1 and pressing 2 would be different from holding 2 and pressing 1. I'd have to see a user study to see if this is easy to learn, but I suspect it isn't. What would perhaps work better is grouping sequences of chords into syllables,
          • If you could get the thumb buttons to be used individually or together, you could have 2^6, or 64 combinations.

            Of course, a data glove and some software that figures out what you're trying to type on a virtual QWERTY (perhaps including real-time typo correction) might just be easier for the user. Of course, the data glove would be a bitch to have to wear whenever you want to use the PDA. Maybe one of these days a really lightweight PDA can be built into a glove...
            • by h4rm0ny (722443)

              A while ago I saw a one-handed, chording keyboard advertised that would have been great to use. Instead of something you needed to lay flat on a desk, or hold with one hand and type with the other, it was simply a joystick that you gripped lightly with a loop that went round the back of your hand to hold it in place. Looked very comfortable and the ability to type at any angle, in any position, would have been great. Unfortunately, they had stopped making them when I saw them and I've never been able to fi
      • The concept of chording comes from the stenography equipment that has been used in courtrooms for ages.

        A buddy of mine home schooled some of his children (due to the unique needs of each child, not for reactionary religious reasons). As an educational project, he had is oldest boy (13 at the time) make an alternative input device for an amputee. He harvested buttons from a pile of game controllers, researched stenographic chording, assembled a device that would be used one-handed, and wrote his own device

    • Please Sir,

      Tell me that Cordwainer Smith didn't beat you to the idea 50 years ago:

      "He did not use his voice again. Instead he pulled his tablet up from where it hung against his chest. He wrote on it using the pointed fingernail of his right forefinger-the talking nail of a scanner - in quick cleancut script: Pls, drlng, whrs crnching wire..."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by twoboxen (1111241)
      "I grow my right hand thumbnail long, file it down so I have a bit of an edge leaning left"... Gross. Move it to your pinky nail, and I'm sure the number of your "friends" with similar abnormalities will grow faster than you expect. I'll leave it to you to figure out why ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Cedric Tsui (890887)
      People who play the guitar do the same sort of thing.
      You'll notice they have long nails on the right hand for strumming and picking, and shortened nails on the left so they don't get in the way.
    • by Dun Malg (230075)

      I've been using PDAs forever -- starting with my original Newton MessagePad (I do miss it). Over the years, I've become accustomed to the tiny on-screen keyboards with no tactile feedback. I grow my right hand thumbnail long, file it down so I have a bit of an edge leaning left, and I can type VERY fast with it -- probably faster than the average layperson on a regular PC keyboard..
      Cool. Very Scanners Live in Vain (for those who have read it).
    • by Sparr0 (451780)
      I was never much for thumbboards, but I use a similar adaptation. I keep my right index finger filed to a *SLIGHT* point (about 150 degrees, 1mm radius curve) and it is the best stylus I have ever used.
    • I grow my right hand thumbnail long, file it down so I have a bit of an edge leaning left
      My right thumbnail is the same way, but it's for playing guitar with my fingernails.
    • by kklein (900361)
      And geeks wonder why normal people don't want to be friends with them...
  • Prototype? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by niceone (992278) * on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:01AM (#19955435) Journal
    This seems like a nice thought experiment. but really without trying it you can't tell anything. Why not do a mock up using 5 keys of a regular keyboard? Personally I'd have done the prototype and tried it before blogging about it!
    • Old news [wikipedia.org]. I remember reading about this back in the early 80s when I had my ZX Spectrum.

      As endorsed by Douglas Adams.
    • by david.given (6740)

      Why not do a mock up using 5 keys of a regular keyboard?

      Most modern keyboard have lousy support for multi-key combinations --- my Microsoft Internet Keyboard (which is otherwise pretty good) can only cope with three simultaneous keypresses, plus a modifier key. Cheaper ones can only handle two. If you hold down more keys, then it'll start forgetting which keys you pressed earlier and won't generate keyup events when you release them.

      You might have more luck with a game controller, which handle keys diff

  • by pzs (857406) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:01AM (#19955443)

    As a side benefit, you become a proficient player of the penny whistle [wikipedia.org].

    Peter

  • This article was a fairly interesting journey into Shannon [wikipedia.org]'s world of Information Theory [bell-labs.com] but, in my opinion, it is little more than an exercise in applying that kind of idea to user input devices on small electronics.

    I understand the enumeration and recognize that it scales quite quickly per key. The reason I don't think this has been employed or will be employed is that people are not willing to take the time climb a learning curve--even if it would take them a few weeks of memorization and the time
    • ...we'd all just use one button and our handhelds would interpret Morse code...

      Rockbox [rockbox.org] lets you use Morse code to enter text on an mp3 player, I tried it out on my iRiver and it's a surprisingly efficient interface. Learning Morse isn't really that hard, no harder than learning to touch type. And wow, a one (or two) button interface is very cool!

  • Twiddler. (Score:4, Informative)

    by AltGrendel (175092) <ag-slashdot@@@exit0...us> on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:04AM (#19955473) Homepage
    I prefer the Twiddler [handykey.com]. After some practice, it's actually pretty easy to use.
    • by John3 (85454)
      Looks cool....I've tried to get proficient with the Alphagrip [alphagrips.com] but it's taking a lot of time to get used to.
  • by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:04AM (#19955481)
    This is whole point of people texting "u" instead of "you". Instant 3:1 compression ratio. I could certainly hit the "u" button faster than any 93-year old morse coder could hit "..-" The only problem with texting is it's not streaming, you have to hit "send", whereas morse code streams.
    • by grommit (97148) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:12AM (#19955591)
      Who says morse coders don't use text compression of their own?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by JrOldPhart (1063610)
      Don't bet on that.

      Some one used to even a straight key can tap out a 'u' in Morse much quicker than two clicks of, where was that, Oh yea, the '8' button. Then there are electronic keyers, only two touches.
    • 'u' requires 2 key hits. I think a morse coder can certainly dot dot dash much faster.
    • In TFA it points out that the morse coder transmitted the entire phrase verbatim, whereas the text messager used abbreviations and slang. So, no, it would appear that he could hit ..- faster that you can tap the 8 key twice. If you seen the speed that a morse operator works at, compared to the spongey unresponsive keys on a mobile then it's not a big suprise really.

      A more interesting test would be to choose a phrase that can be texted verbatim using t9. That's very close to one key per character and should
  • by chriss (26574) * <chriss@memomo.net> on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:06AM (#19955497) Homepage

    These single hand keyboards are called chord keyboards [wikipedia.org] and a pretty old idea. In fact Douglas Engelbart used on during the mother of all demos [stanford.edu] (first: windows, mouse, internet, video conferencing etc.)

    I wanted one since I saw one for the first time in a computer magazine (the Octima, about 1984), but they never caught on. Some are available, mostly for disabled people, and they are very expensive. According to people who have worked with them it just takes just a couple of days to become fast on these ones, but you cannot become as fast as a very fast typist.

    I guess this is the main problem: for starters they seem to be harder, since they cannot see the letters, for pro-typists/programmers they do not offer enough gain, unless they have RSI. Maybe mobile typing will finally be their breakthrough. Took only 30 years.

    • by ajs (35943)

      These single hand keyboards are called chord keyboards [wikipedia.org] and a pretty old idea.

      Indeed. I've tried out the Twiddler [handykey.com], which is very nice, and easy to learn. Over a weekend, you should be able to get back up to being useful on it, though it has its limitations. The biggest advantage is that you can rest your arm at your side and keep typing.

    • guess this is the main problem: for starters they seem to be harder, since they cannot see the letters, for pro-typists/programmers they do not offer enough gain, unless they have RSI. Maybe mobile typing will finally be their breakthrough. Took only 30 years.

      Well, speaking as a pro typist, guitarist (the ten-finger kind), etc., I'm endlessly intrigued by these devices and the way keyboards are being designed, but I have strong concerns about anyone making use of them on a regular basis.

      I don't know whether
    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      I would say that Steno machines predate even those.
      A good court-reporter can "write" on a stenomachine at more than 240 WPM. Yes that is word per minute.
      The only down side is it takes years to learn how to write well.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      Surprising that nobody has mentioned the Frog Pad [thinkgeek.com] yet. I haven't tried it myself, but it looks like it would be quite good for a pda or other such portable device.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You should read this [amazon.com].* His approach to NLS and chorded keyboards was inspiring but it catered more to the "make it steep as possible" school of UI.

      *"This is not a simple distinction to fathom, and that may be one reason Engelbart's project, unlike his mouse, never caught fire. Another reason, perhaps was his determination to stick to a pure version of his "augmentation" plan. Unlike later computer innovators who elevated the term "usability" to a mantra Engelbart didn't place a lot of faith in making tools

      • by chriss (26574) *

        You should read this.

        I will.

        His approach to NLS and chorded keyboards was inspiring but it catered more to the "make it steep as possible" school of UI.

        From the text snippet you provided it seem more that he was from the "do not dumb it done" school of UI. This often comes with a steep learning curve, but that does not really have to be. E.g. it should actually be easier to learn to use a chord keyboard than to learn to touch type.

        I learned typing on a C64 by placing stickers on all the keys so I cou

  • Not news. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tygerstripes (832644) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:06AM (#19955505)
    This is just a blog, ffs. The idea of chorded typing - or even just improving the efficiency of text-entry - has been bandied around for so long that it makes this particular blogger sound like a 13-yr-old nerd who's just had his first Big Idea.


    I'm not saying he's wrong. Personally, I'd love to see this being implemented. QWERTY input isn't likely to be shunted aside until text-input keyboards become obsolete - it's well-established and it works well enough, and would require a hell of a lot of people to unlearn and relearn typing for a marginal increase in efficiency - but for other specialised applications there are always better ways. Just look at the stenotype [wikipedia.org] used in courts, or the way SMS texting made use of the very limited resources that phones had back in the day. Very specific developments for very specific purposes.

    My point is, this sort of idea is not new, and it's being discussed and ummed-and-aahed over in development labs even as we speak. Until someone with real inside knowledge writes about it, however, I'm really not interested in someone's inter-blag brain-fart.

    I have done absolutely no searches to find out if any of the ideas described in this article have been patented or not.
    Yeah, no kidding.
  • Who the heck will remember the order to hit and release keys? That's the sort of shit you take bagpipe lessons for!

    • by julesh (229690)
      Agreed. I know a variation of this type of thing with 60 combinations (29 + shift + caps lock in the basic set, 31 in the shifted set). That took a couple of hours to learn. However a 325-combination alphabet would likely be pretty tricky to remember. Stick to that basic 60 and the idea's viable, particularly if the combinations are mnemonic (as they were in the system I used).
    • Yeah, keyboard shortcuts suck and no-one can remember them. That's why keys like Shift and Ctrl are so rarely used these days, particularly by experienced typists, and never in combination. :-)

      Personally, I've always quite fancied trying one of these Datahand units [datahand.com], but obviously there's a high cost involved and quite a steep learning curve. I can well believe that when properly configured, it's much nicer for things that aren't simple typing jobs, such as programming, writing in mark-up languages like La

      • by Steve001 (955086)

        Anonymous Brave Guy wrote:

        Yeah, keyboard shortcuts suck and no-one can remember them. That's why keys like Shift and Ctrl are so rarely used these days, particularly by experienced typists, and never in combination. :-)

        I strongly disagree that keyboard shortcuts suck. I tend to use them to this day because I find it faster, easier, and more accurate than using a mouse and menu, especially for immediate commands like saving and moving around the document

        Even when using the menu system, I tend to use

  • The author asks if there is already be a patent on his idea. There might be, but it would have already expired or could be invalidated by prior art.

    In the late 70's, someone was selling a "one-handed keyboard" that implemented the concept, albeit a bit differently. The user pressed a combination of 4 keys with fingers, and then completed the operation by choosing one of 8 buttons with the thumb. This yielded only 128 unique combinations, but I believe there was 9th "shift" key that was pressed separate

    • by julesh (229690)
      The first variant that used just 5 buttons was invented some time in the late eighties, I believe, so may still be under patent. I remember seeing it on Tommorow's World [wikipedia.org]. I remember watching Judith Hann spelling her name with this big clunky handheld device, about the size of a brick, with an LED display on it.
  • I suggest using the following five keys: compose meta shift control escape
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I think you mean: Escape, Meta, Alt, Control, Shift
  • by MythMoth (73648) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:15AM (#19955655) Homepage
    The Sharp Agenda had its "microwriter" chording keyboard.

    http://www.geoff.org.uk/museum/microwriter.htm [geoff.org.uk]

    Circa 1989, so patent worries should be minimal!
    • by julesh (229690)
      The input device it used was invented a few years earlier. But thanks for reminding me of the name... here it is [wikipedia.org]. "Early 80's" according to wikipedia, so yeah, I guess the patents should have expired by now.
    • I've got one* - it's not badged as a Sharp, but as a "Microwriter AgendA". I'm not sure who made it, but wasn't the Sharp Agenda a different cheap-as-chips PDA that didn't really interface with anything?

      The two big things going for it were ridiculously fast text entry via the Microwriter keys and the way that absolutely any text entered was indexed.

      The biggest problems were the screen (as you can see in the picture in the link) and the size and weight of it - much heavier than a modern PDA. Also, having t
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:16AM (#19955663) Homepage
    I haven't heard the expression "Five Finger Discount" in a very long time so I'm wondering if the term might apply in this case. :)
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:16AM (#19955665) Journal
    ... for almost all communications on the road. Why bother with five finger salutes?
  • BAT keyboard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BlueF (550601) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:18AM (#19955687)
    We've been using these for years:

    http://www.infogrip.com/product_view.asp?RecordNum ber=12 [infogrip.com]

    Had a clerk who was unable to type with both hands bring in one of her own. She did just fine in a demanding, fast paced environment (ER Patient Registration).

    For what it's worth, I could never get the hang of it. Would certainly take some time to learn. Perhaps as much time (if not more) than learning an alternate full sized KB layout.
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:20AM (#19955709)

    I wonder if there's a Morse-to-text keyboard driver for my phone? A lot of time is wasted looking to see what three keys my fat thumb is pressing this particular time. If I could just hammer away messages on one key, without needing to watch what I was typing, that would seem to be quicker...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Rick17JJ (744063)

      I would be interested in something like that too, since I already know Morse code. I learned that to use with ham radio, although I have not used it very much. I don't know about any specific drivers for any particular cell phone, but here are a couple of links that mention people using Morse Code with a cellphone. It seems to me that someone could probably send CW with something smaller than a traditional telegraph key. I believe there was also once a discussion on Slashdot about that too, but I don't

      • by Rick17JJ (744063)

        Below is the Slashdot article from May 6, 2007 about using Morse Code on cell phones that I mentioned. Perhaps CW would possibly just be sent using a button on the phone, while the cell phone is laying flat on a table. I think there may possibly be some way to send CW from a few Nokia phones, if I am not mistaken. Text messaging is almost useless for me when I am out hiking in bright sunlight and don't have my reading glasses with me, because I can't read the display. With Morse code, I probably could g

  • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:21AM (#19955727) Journal
    This is an interesting concept, but I feel that a true standard will need to lend familiarity to the infamous qwerty keyboard.
     
    The reason qwerty was adopted as a standard was not for efficiency, but because kingpin (at the time) IBM decided that when electronic buffers were introduced to typewriters and there was no longer a need to obscure keys on the keyboard in order to prevent mechanical jams, a keyboard layout they were currently producing would become the standard.
     
    Since then, every typing class, every default layout and the vast majority of keyboards have been based upon the qwerty layout.
     
    While some people on the bleeding edge of technology are willing to learn something new (I personally am proficient on Dvorak, Palm Graffiti, phone texting, and blackberry) A real standard of input will arise when the device is both similar to the qwerty equivalent and small enough to take along in your pocket. The average users are more willing to learn something slightly different than new altogether.
    • by WillAdams (45638)
      Not every typing class / test.

      When I typed out of my typing class in the Air Force back in 1985 they offered the option of taking the test on Dvorak-layout typewriters (in retrospect, I regret not taking note of how they kept track of which machines where which since the keys were blank). ISTR that they offered the option for certain specialties (not mine) of using the Dvorak layout.

      William

  • by pfft (23845) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:23AM (#19955749)
    There are services for hearing impaired people, where they have operators watching TV and adding subtitles to the programs in real-time. (Obviously the subtitles will a few seconds behind the audio, but it's good enough to let you watch the news).

    Those operators use chording keyboard (though with more than 5 keys), set up so that particular key chords map to common phrases. Typing this way is a lot faster than typing on a conventional keyboard, but it obviously is a lot of effort to learn.

    So yes, it does work.
  • Guitar Hero (Score:4, Funny)

    by boris111 (837756) on Monday July 23, 2007 @10:36AM (#19955875)
    5 buttons huh. Where's the strummer and the whammy bar?

    Add that and we'll talk.
  • Just as demonstrated with morse code, you can have inifinite combinations.. with just one key. It doesn't make it practical, since it's hard to develop an industry around *one* morse code typer with 80 years of experience.

    It's easier to develop an industry around millions of teens who don't want to learn a lot to use their gadget properly.

    since all the rage now is dynamically changing input device, ala iPhone, but we can't exactly forget tactile feedback, a mobile version of this [artlebedev.com] comes to mind.
  • A two- or three-way foldable keyboard, either wired or wireless, would do the magics without the need to reinvent the wheel ... ehm ... the keyboard!
  • Put an iambic paddle on that cell phone and bang out text messages faster than those whippersnappers :)

    A previous post argued the difference is that morse streams, while SMS is sent as a message, but I'd still bet even if you streamed SMS, or waited for complete sentances with morse, morse would win easily. Morse avoids the hunting and pecking, your finger and thumb is always on the key (or paddle) ... Morse or SMS? [youtube.com], a competition on the Late Show with Jay Leno.
  • But what about handicapped people? What if someone has 4 or even 3 fingers? How would they make up for this lack of digits?

    Also, this method would seem to encourage people to use 6 fingers if they have them. That would be an interesting progression for us, as a race eh? Due to the usefulness, we evolved/grafted/added a mechanical 6th finger!

    Just watch out for revenge bent young Spaniards tell you their name...

  • How about if all the options of the menu were arranged in a circle around a central point, and the input device was one of those directional sensitive controllers. Then choosing a menu option would just be a matter of choosing the correct direction.
    • It exists, it's called MessageEase. Exideas [exideas.com] makes it, it's a very nice, fast way to type, much better than the crappy miniature qwerty keyboards.
  • remember the case of the retired 93 year old telegraph operator who used a Morse key to send a text message faster than a teenager could send it via mobile phone

    So you're saying that if I make a career out of sending text messages, when I'm 93 I will be able to do it as fast as I can now with a keyboard?

  • Do I get a discount?
  • by dosius (230542)
    There *are* one-handed Dvorak layouts, you know.
  • The idea of a 5-finger chording keyboard is not new. It features the same advantages to data input that shorthand offers writing.

    The problem with the chording keyboard is the same as the problem with shorthand: its hard to learn and virtually useless until you've learned it well. A regular keyboard is as useful to a novice who visually hunts for each key as it is to a touch-typeist who never looks at the keyboard. The chording keyboard is thoroughly opaque to the novice and no one has found a way to make it
  • http://easyweb.easynet.co.uk/~len/boog/gifs/ag500. jpg [easynet.co.uk]

    It used a chord keyboard exactly like the one outlined, although it was burdened with alphabet keys also because they wanted to appeal to everybody. I seem to remember hitting 30 WPM on this thing without any kind of predictive text input. Really good kit.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday July 23, 2007 @01:38PM (#19958625) Homepage
    I once considered buying a used stenotyping machine--it was on sale for $15 IIRC. It was in working condition. I could press combination any combination of keys I liked, all at the same time, and it would enter them all together in a horizontal row across a piece of something like adding-machine tape, then advance the tape to the next line. The ribbon even had ink and everything. It was just so cool I was tempted, just for the joy of possessing one.

    The stenotype machine was, invented in 1830 [wikipedia.org], still in production, and still in use by court reporters who can attain up to 300 wpm with it. In contrast, the record sustained typing speed for a Dvorak typist is 150 wpm [wikipedia.org].

    The fact that stenotype machines have been around for well over a century and that nobody but court reporters use them... and that when Doug Engelbart and his group invented the mouse, it was only intended to be used only in conjunction with a chording keyboard... and the fact that most modern keyboards actually allow a form of chording (shift, control, alt, and a letter) but there are no common hacks to use this to increase typing speed... strongly suggest to me that the learning/benefit ratio is way too low for any scheme of this kind to be adopted.

    If I recall correctly there was a glove-like chording keyboard marketed a few years ago, whose designers had even devised a clever chording scheme in which the fingers you used sorta-kinda had a relationship to the shape of the letter, and a number of reviewers praised it and said they were able to achieve facility with it in a week or so. It obviously didn't take the world by storm.

  • by tyme (6621) on Monday July 23, 2007 @01:57PM (#19958891) Homepage Journal
    How, I wonder, does he intend to hold this mobile device if all five fingers are involved in pressing the buttons? He also doesn't seems to think that you can combine a coding pattern space with the inactive state of the buttons (when none are being pressed). I'd say he hasn't put any thought at all into this mechanism (just as he hasn't done any research for prior work: e.g. chording keyboards). He clearly hasn't build even a non-working mechanical prototype to see if any of this is usable (take a pack of cards, draw some buttons on the box and try using the resulting chording device. For extra credit, do it with just the deck of cards without the box).

    Here are some of the the problems:
    1. You need to be able to hold the device, which robs the thumb and at least one finger from being able to operate the keys.
    2. You can't encode a symbol on the keys when none are active, so that takes away one code point.
    3. You need to allow for delay between synchronized keypresses (not all fingers will depress the keys simultaneously) so this will limit your typing speed.
    4. You need to learn the damn chords, which most people are pretty bad at (heck, they're usually pretty bad at learning to type non-chorded as well).

  • This type of plan to use limeted buttons to generate full keyboard capability has been around since at leat 1978, when a device called "The WriteHander" made the cover of a popular PC magazine. I've seen a number of similar devices, and I'm frankly puzzeld as to why they aren't more prevalent. Surely there are handicapped people who could benefit from this. I like the idea of a one-device mouse/input device attached to a computer.
  • bah, i have to spell out the dots and dashes to avoid the "lameness filter"

    dot dash dash dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dash dot dot

    dash dot dot dot dash dash dot dot dot
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ogive17 (691899)
      wow that turned out horrible :(

      It's suppose to be "pwned nub".. guess I pwned myself. I'm leaving now...

If you have to ask how much it is, you can't afford it.

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