MAY 08, 2015 02:14 PM PDT

Until the Neural Interface, Try a Micro-QWERTY Keyboard

WRITTEN BY: Will Hector
Functional elegance in a name is not more perfectly illustrated than by the humble QWERTY keyboard. Dating to 1873, the QWERTY is named after the first six letter keys from the upper left corner of a standard keyboard.

And speaking of keyboards, wouldn't it be great if the new wave of wearable devices-from exercise wristbands to smart watches to digital jewelry-included a text entry system? And wouldn't it be even better if that system was the reliable QWERTY arrangement?
An example of the ZShift keyboard
The greatest advantage of these devices-their incredibly small size-is also a deterrent to adding too many features because the screen space is so limited. There's also a one-way quality to the communication since they receive data and transmit it to the user, but feedback from the user has been, to now, inadequate.

Researchers from the University of Stuttgart and the Universitat Politècnica de València got together to change all that.

They have developed a pair of very small keyboard prototypes featuring the standard QWERTY keyboard arrangement. One prototype is referred to as Callout. It is inspired by the soft keyboards found on current smartphones. When the user touches a key, a callout showing the character that has been selected is projected onto another part of the screen. The user can adjust which key they want by slightly moving their finger on the keyboard, then signal that they want a particular character by lifting up their finger.

The other prototype is called ZShift. It is essentially an enhancement of the Callout design by adding a level of zoom in the occluded area, providing visual feedback for the key being touched.

The keyboard being tested are for screens between 16 and 32 millimeters in width. Autocorrect or other error correction mechanisms can be incorporated, according to the researchers, making input more efficient on the tiny devices.

Says Luis Leiva of the Universitat Politècnica de València's Pattern Recognition and Human Language Technology research center: "QWERTY keyboards, despite their limitations, have the fundamental advantage that users are already familiarized with the layout and the text entry technique is very easy to understand."

Market demand for such a keyboard would seem to be strong as long as the QWERTY functionality continues to be the standard. At some point in the future, eye movement (particularly for smart glasses) or gestures-or neural interface, depending on how far in the future you want to project-will probably replace the beloved QWERTY system. Until then, I'm going to continue looking for opportunities to type QWERTY. Try it yourself; it's very satisfying.

Follow Will Hector on Twitter: @WriterWithHeart

(Source: Science Daily)
About the Author
  • Will Hector practices psychotherapy at Heart in Balance Counseling Center in Oakland, California. He has substantial training in Attachment Theory, Hakomi Body-Centered Psychotherapy, Psycho-Physical Therapy, and Formative Psychology. To learn more about his practice, click here: http://www.heartinbalancetherapy.com/will-hector.html
You May Also Like
OCT 05, 2018
Health & Medicine
OCT 05, 2018
A Caterpillar Robot for Drug Delivery? Ya, That's a Thing
Drug delivery is a significant part of medical research since a drug cannot work if it cannot access the part of the body where it's needed. Nanotechno...
OCT 07, 2018
Technology
OCT 07, 2018
Adaptable Prosthetic: The Smart Seat Cushion
Developers at the University of Texas at Arlington have recently patented a smart seat cushion that utilizes changes in air pressure to allow the redistrib...
NOV 06, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
NOV 06, 2018
Mapping the Brain
The brain still holds many mysteries, but scientists are finding ways to learn more about how it works....
NOV 13, 2018
Technology
NOV 13, 2018
Here's Why Hydrogen-Powered Cars Haven't Become Mainstream
The automobile industry today is still dominated by gasoline-powered vehicles, but electric cars like those from Tesla are gaining a lot of traction in the...
NOV 15, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
NOV 15, 2018
How Technology can Help Feed the World
As the world's population grows, plant scientists know that the race is on to develop technologies that will help feed everyone....
DEC 06, 2018
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 06, 2018
Rare Uranium Compounds Capable of High-temperature Superconductivity at Near Normal Pressure
Uranium is often associated with nuclear fuel materials, but very soon they could be used to power a new wave of industrial revolution. Scientists from Rus...
Loading Comments...