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Scientists design KALQ keyboard map for faster thumb typing

The new keyboard layout allows users to type faster, without straining their thumbs, and is ideal for touchscreen typing. The old QWERTY is possible to give its place to KALQ, at least where smartphones and tablets are concerned.

As you should have already noticed, typing on a mobile or tablet, takes way longer than on a regular keyboard. It’s natural, since the QWERTY layout was not made for thumb typing. Users need a new layout, ergonomically adjusted for easier thumb reach and customized for touchscreen devices. KALQ is the new alternative.

Researchers from Max Plank Institute in Germany, Montana Tech in the US, and University of St Andrews in UK, devised the new keyboard layout by splitting the old QWERTY sequence into two easily reachable groups of keys. After testing series of different layouts, studying thumb movement patterns and using computational optimization techniques, they finally concluded that the best possible layout is this:

User studies proved that the KALQ keyboard allows simultaneous use of both thumbs, it’s easy to get used to is and enables 34% faster thumb-typing than the traditional QWERTY keyboard.

As Antti Oulasvirta, senior researcher of the team, said: "The key to optimizing a keyboard for two thumbs is to minimize long sequences with a single thumb. We also want to place frequently used letters centrally close to each other. Experienced typists move their thumbs simultaneously: While one is typing, the other is approaching its next target. We derived a predictive model of this behaviour for the optimization method."

If you want to try it, the KALQ layout will soon be available from the Google Play store as a free app for androids. Apple owners will have to wait.

Source: BBC, BI

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