[ExI] [Robotgroup] Alternative human keyboard interfaces

Bryan Bishop kanzure at gmail.com
Mon Jun 8 01:13:16 UTC 2009

On Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 4:40 PM, Sam O'nella<barythrin at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Are you trying to find something you can sit down and use or use while walking/mobile?

I have no preference at the moment. It would be nice to find something
ridiculously mobile. My main concern is that I like being able to
quickly press out my special character keys for programming and other
related tasks. With chorded keyboards you encounter this drawback
between how many keystrokes you want to use to get to a variable and
how commonly it comes up in every day usage. So, it becomes a bit of
an nightmare of either different modes, mode switching, alt and
switching, etc, etc. Playing it like a musical instrument isn't
entirely my scheme. Another important point is that it should provide
some sort of advantage over qwerty and dvorak layouts: maybe a nice
typing rate increase.

It is not immediately obvious what the maximum on human motion and
agility is. When is it a problem of personal training, and when is it
a problem of terrible keyboard design? I've been told that there are
studies in ergonomics of how long it takes people to perform different
subtasks in typing, like identification, targetting, pressing,
lift-off, etc., though I don't know how to find those studies or
whether or not anybody has bothered to use that information to help
optimize some sort of automatic design of keyboard design, whether
through displacing the plastic into different geometries and shapes,
or doing something completely different due to the dynamic ability of
the human body (degrees of freedom, or rather the domains of freedom
which can be accessed with the muscles).

Really the design process should be flipped around. The task is to
type quickly and to type a relatively equal or relatively larger set
of symbols out, without breaking the laws of motion of the human body,
and so on and so forth. Brain implants might be one method, but
unfortunately despite all of the literature I have read on
microelectrode arrays, the best that I can find is crappy EEG studies
where people look at a visual keyboard on the screen and think either
"left" or "right" in order to choose a subset of the overall keyboard
image in a slow attempt to choose which key to press. Not good.

Hm. Still need to think about this some more. Handcuffing the wrists
together and having a somewhat stable plastic shape on which to use
the hands to type might be one method, but then you don't get the same
hand-flying-across-the-keyboard freedom that you get in conventional
flat surface keyboards.

- Bryan
1 512 203 0507

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