New keyboard software makes typing faster on touch screens (w/ Video)

Jan 24, 2011 by Lin Edwards report
LiquidKeybourd developer Christian Sax. Photo Anna Zhu

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers in Australia have invented a virtual keyboard they say will make typing on touch screen devices such as the iPad much faster. The software senses the positions of the user’s fingertips and as soon as four fingers touch the screen it displays a QWERTY keyboard underneath the fingers, with half the keyboard under each hand. The keys respond to touch, and can be moved around the screen or pressed to type.

Computer systems researcher Christian Sax and colleague Hannes Lau of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) developed their prototype, the LiquidKeyboard (patent pending), in order to try to take the traditional and adapt it to the new communication interface of the touch screen. It is intended for use with a pressure-sensitive screen, but since touch screens in iPads and similar devices are not yet sensitive to pressure, the software detects pressure by looking at hand size and the position of the fingers and measuring the surface areas of the fingertips.

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Sax and Lau are hoping their LiquidKeyboard could eventually be integrated into the operating system of a touch screen device such as the , or it could be made available as an application for sale in an App store. Mr Sax said they thought such a device was necessary because typing on a touch screen is currently difficult and tedious, resulting in hand fatigue. He said their device allows the user to use both hands, and this eliminates the necessity for additional hardware to be purchased.

Mr Sax said they chose the iPad first because the platform is "a bit more powerful and has a more sensitive multi-touch capability," and because the hardware is cheap. They chose the system as their first step even though Google Android tends to be more straightforward, and they had to create a developer account for Apple and obtain the necessary permits and certification for the iPad.

The team say they are definitely aiming to extend the system to Android and as many other touch screen platforms as they can find in the future, and Mr Sax said the system’s versatility and low cost would make it an effective system for entering text in a wide range of applications.

Explore further: Prototype display uses eyeglass prescription to allow for viewing devices without glasses

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User comments : 9

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Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2011
looks very confusing to never be able to find the keys in the same place. It seems that the key positions drift around with the user's fingers.
hooloovoo
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 24, 2011
Sounds like it could be a handy gimmick, but there are far bigger problems with typing on a touch-screen, key among them the lack of physical feedback. You can't sense where your fingertips are because the surface is ubiquitous, unlike on a real keyboard where you can immediately sense if you pressed the wrong key or hit the gaps between them.
kevinrtrs
1 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2011
Not sure where they're going with this. How would/does it compare to Swype for instance? What is different or better than Swype that would make it faster or more practical?
loreak
5 / 5 (4) Jan 24, 2011
maybe a video of someone actually using it instead of that bullshit video would help
CSharpner
not rated yet Jan 24, 2011
maybe a video of someone actually using it instead of that bullshit video would help
Yah, I'm not impressed in the least bit.
scenage
not rated yet Jan 24, 2011
I think this would help a lot more in the future - especially with holographic displays.
Jo01
not rated yet Jan 25, 2011
iOS virtual keyboards are easy to use and fast to type on, especially on the iPad.
So the stated problem isn't a problem at all and as a consequence doesn't need a solution.

J.
Jo01
1 / 5 (2) Jan 25, 2011
...among them the lack of physical feedback. You can't sense where your fingertips are because the surface is ubiquitous, unlike on a real keyboard where you can immediately sense if you pressed the wrong key or hit the gaps between them.


Not so. You can feel the gaps between the keys but you cant feel you hit the wrong key. Most keys have the same shape and no noticeable (braille?) markings on them so they are touch wise indistinguishable.
I suspect that 10 fingers blind typing isn't an issue at all on the iPad and typing speed will be comparable to a normal keyboard.
I've seen a concert pianist demo a piano app in a very convincing way (in fact he played two iPads).

You know, touch feedback is all in the mind.

J.
CSharpner
5 / 5 (1) Jan 25, 2011
but you cant feel you hit the wrong key
Which is what they're saying "You can't sense where your fingertips are because the surface is ubiquitous" This is very important.