University develops tablet 'liquid keyboard'

University develops tablet 'liquid keyboard'

Summary: LiquidKeyboard, a new touchscreen typing system is in development. Will this become the future next-gen typing model?

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Learning a new method of typing can be a nuisance. However, the University of Technology in Sydney hopes to develop a new touchscreen typing system for future tablet users.

Researchers Christian Sax and Hannes Lau have recently released a preview of the keyboard technology currently in development at the university. 'LiquidKeyboard' (LK) aims to revolutionize the way we type on touchscreen devices.

Managed by UniQuest, the research prototype is currently being developed on an iPad model. The concept behind the project is increasing the fluidity of typing, hence the name -- extending speed and movement by extended use of your fingers rather than being required to stretch your palms.

According to the published research aims:

"The LiquidKeyboard splits the QWERTY keyboard in key groups and allocates these to individual fingers. Each group has a 'home key' on which the finger is resting when touch-typing, e.g. the 'H' for the right index finger. When a finger on a home key is moved the key group follows the sensed finger position and the keys are rotated based on the wrist position for conveniently placed keys. The LiquidKeyboard enables users to know exactly where keys are positioned on the keyboard as these keys are always at the same position relatively to the current finger position on the screen. Therefore one does not have to look at the keyboard in order know where keys are located."

Confused? I was. However, summarised -- when a user's first four fingers touch the surface of a mobile device, the LiquidKeyboard is constructed around the positioning. The positions of surrounding keys become relative to each finger placement. The product also gauges finger pressure and compensates for it.

On a traditional keyboard, you need to reach out across the tablet screen to reach certain keys. By drawing these keys close together, you won't be required to move your palms when you type, hypothetically increasing your speed and potentially placing less strain on your wrists.

It may only work if you're a touch typist, as we all have ingrained methods of typing. However, next-generation users may find it easier to adapt to than other groups.

Although the idea may seem dubious, perhaps it could become a promising application for Apple or Android models in the future. Once a beta version is released we'll be able to test out the theory ourselves.

Related:

Topics: Hardware, Android, Apple, iPhone, iPad, Tablets

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5 comments
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  • Brilliant!

    I think the concept is fantastic! I would adapt it though as follows: a user could gesture the bringing up of a soft keyboard by tapping on the screen 3 times with a finger. When he places all fingers on the touch screen, the dynamic keyboard would configure around his hands and fingers, and then he could begin typing! If the user wants to re-configure the keyboard to another position on the screen, all he needs to do is rest all his fingers on the screen at different hand positions! This is fantastic! I think the above, coupled with word prediction, could make soft keyboards highly efficient at inputting data.
    P. Douglas
    • I think MS should ...

      ... look into this research right away!
      P. Douglas
  • Zdnet ...

    ... can't you get someone to fix your comment system once and for all?
    P. Douglas
    • RE: University develops tablet 'liquid keyboard'

      @P. Douglas

      Fixing the talkback comment section requires access to a LiquidKeyboard.
      kenosha77a
  • RE: University develops tablet 'liquid keyboard'

    I actually think this is a killer idea, if they can get it to work properly. I can see a number of problems, namely overlapping keys (our fingers are relatively close together after all) and whatnot.

    I'd really like to see it though. Nice to see some innovation for a change.
    Aerowind