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Thumbs-up for new keyboard design


A new keyboard design which replaces QWERTY will allow faster thumb typing on large touchscreen devices, such as tablets. The new system, dubbed KALQ, allows people to type up to 34 per cent faster by using a layout optimised for thumb typing.

EPSRC-funded post-doctoral research fellow, Dr Per Ola Kristensson, from the University of St Andrews, has been investigating how to use techniques from artificial intelligence to create more fluid and efficient text input interfaces.

A better understanding of how to increase the efficiency of everyday user interfaces could inform new designs that reduce ergonomic strain and improve the user experience for users with disabilities. The KALQ keyboard has been developed with the Max Planck Institute for Informatics, and Montana Tech.

“The legacy of QWERTY has trapped users with suboptimal text entry interfaces on mobile devices,” said Dr Per Ola Kristensson, Lecturer in Human Computer Interaction in the School of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews.

“However, before abandoning QWERTY, users rightfully demand a compelling alternative. We believe KALQ provides a large enough performance improvement to incentivise users to switch and benefit from faster and more comfortable typing.”

The story was featured widely in the press including The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Mail Online, TechCrunch, MIT Technology Review, and on-air at BBC Radio 4, World at One, BBC Scotland, BBC Radio 5, and BBC Radio 2. It also received widespread coverage in specialist press and over 150 international mentions in the media.

KALQ is available as a free app for Android-based smartphones and the keyboard is available free on Google Play.


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