University develops tablet 'liquid keyboard'

LiquidKeyboard, a new touchscreen typing system is in development. Will this become the future next-gen typing model?
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on

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.


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