The most common keyboard layout in use today is called QWERTY, it takes its name from the first six characters seen in the far left of the keyboard’s top row of letters.
The QWERTY layout was introduced in the 1860s, being used on the first commercially-successful typewriter, the machine invented by Christopher Sholes. The QWERTY layout was designed so that successive keystrokes would alternate between sides of the keyboard so as to avoid jams. Improvements in typewriter design made key jams less of a problem.
So the mechanical issues of the original typewriters was the main reason for this layout design.
A second popular layout is called Dvorak, designed in the 1930’s and it tries to address another problem:
“…the introduction of the electric typewriter in the 1930s made typist fatigue more of a problem, leading to increased interest in the Dvorak layout…”
But even the Dvorak layout is already some years old, so is the typist fatigue the same as now? Do we write, for example, the same words as in 1930’s? I think not…
Is there a better layout?
Take a look at the texts you write every day, and imagine if changing the keyboard would make it more practical for you.
For example, for this text i had to write the word WHY a lot ;) so if i had whyrtu instead of qwerty on my keyboard, would be an improvement…right? Maybe yes, but there’s other things to take into account, for example:
- counting ALL of the most used words (not only the why).
- key combinations that minimizes vertical finger, because jumping from 1st to 3rd row, is less efficient than a jump from 1st to 2nd row.
- what key combinations minimizes horizontal finger movements?
- frequent use of pinky, should be minimized, related to the above horizontal and vertical long movements.
- etc… (many other heuristics)
And then try out several keyboard layouts and variations.
Imagining to do this by hand, like Dvorak and Sholes did for QWERTY is a pain. Luckily we have computers now and as a matter of fact someone already played around with this problem (which made think about all this subject in the first place).
See here for experience: http://klausler.com/evolved.html, and also the final keyboard layout: http://klausler.com/evolved.pdf
Your Own keyboard
I’m not sure that there is the ONE perfect keyboard for everyone, because:
- different people use different words.
- different languages use different words.
- 15 years old person words are different from a 70 years old person words.
- use of computer during working hours compared out-of-work working hours…
So even for you, an optimal keyboard layout would probably change over time.
But imagine a future intelligent computer that can be all the time analyzing what you write in the keyboard and can auto-adapt itself to give your own very optimal layout. Not too frequently, of course, you don’ want your keyboard changing every day. But maybe every 3 years is not so impossible to imagine…
Keyboards of the future should come with blank keys that can be personalized with the character you want.
How would this work if someone changes computer? The keyboard profile, could be fetched from internet when you login to computer.
Another idea, is to have full words on keys, like with your top 5 most used words.
Touch screens with a touch screen there’s a whole new level of layout possibilities, we could make more frequent keys bigger than others for example, play with different keyboard shapes, that can adapt to each person real hands sizes for example, etc…Tweet
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