Wednesday 8 May 2013

Improve Your Mobile Typing (KALQ)

I didn't see this paper presented at SAS Global Forum(!) even though there's plenty of pattern matching and analytics involved in the project, but maybe I'd have benefited from having the associated software installed on my Android tablet whilst writing notes and blog posts.

It's (yet another) alternative keyboard for mobile (phone and tablet) devices. It dares to diverge from QWERTY, and it's thumb-focused, i.e. it doesn't expect you to be a Mavis Beacon alumni. Thus, the researchers claim "it will take about 8 hours of practice to reach the typing rate that is comparable to that of a regular Qwerty keyboard on the same device. Practice beyond that point will improve the rate further". However, it promises much because the layout has the following properties:
  • The division of work is almost equal, at 54% and 46% for the right and left thumb, respectively.
  • Alternation is rapid: 62% of the taps are switches.
  • Travel distances are short: On average, the left thumb moves 86 px, the right 117.
  • The space bar is centrally located.
  • The right thumb handles all vowels except y. The clustering of vowels around the space bar favours quick switches and minimises travel distance. The right thumb is responsible for 64% of same-side taps.
  • The left thumb has most of the consonants, exploiting its ability to hover above the next button sooner. It has most first letters of words and most of the consonants.

I'll confess. I bought a Nexus 7 in San Francisco, sitting alongside my Galaxy Nexus phone and my Asus TF101 tablet/laptop. Yes, I'm an Android fan. But, in my defence, the battery on my Asus had run dry and I'd brought the wrong recharging kit, so what was I to do!

I saw a lot of people at SGF writing notes on tablets and phones, so KALQ has a large target market. I'm going to try it on my Nexus 7. I'll let you know if it's a success.