Microsoft Getting Cleverer and Cleverer With New Multitouch Screen Keyboard

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Getting Cleverer and Cleverer With New Multitouch Screen Keyboard

Oh, those smart rascals at Microsoft are on a roll. I love their Courier tablet concept, and now they may have found the way to make on-screen multitouch keyboards actually work great—even for touch typists like me.

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The problem with screen keyboards is that you actually have to look at the screen to hit the keys correctly. With real keyboards, touch typists have a physical reference to position their hands. That's why they type blind. With a flat screen keyboard, however, you lose the physical reference frame.

Illustration for article titled Microsoft Getting Cleverer and Cleverer With New Multitouch Screen Keyboard

The patent for this screen keyboard, however, uses multitouch technology to automatically align the keys to the position of the hand. Since the keys are always in the same relative position to your fingers, you will always have a physical point of reference: Your own hand. That way, you can blindingly hammer your keys against the screen, knowing that your fingers will always hit the keys they are aiming for.

The patent also details the way this virtual keyboard would appear anywhere on the screen: Just place your hands as you would normally do while typing, and the keyboard will pop up. [USPTO via WMPowerUser]

DISCUSSION

templapublius-old
TemplaPublius

The opposite is true—the QWERTY layout was designed to minimize mechanical jams, which is obviously a design to speed up typing as much as possible. As QWERTY's invention didn't anticipate any possible effects the layout would have on non-mechanicaal keyboards, the idea that somehow they designed this to slow us down in the 21st century is clearly an old wives' tale.

For a good demolition of the urban legends surrounding keyboard layouts, I'd recommend this paper: [www.utdallas.edu]