Forget QWERTY it's time for KALQ

Typing on touchscreen devices is very different from using a conventional keyboard and the traditional layout doesn’t help much. Researchers at the University of St Andrews, the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and Montana Tech have come up with a new layout that claims to allow tablet users to thumb type 34 percent faster.

Named KALQ  after the order that the characters appear, it's been developed to provide optimal character positions when typing on a tablet. By spreading the characters used in commonly typed words such as "on", "see", "you" and "read" which on a QWERTY keyboard would all need to be typed with one thumb, KALQ speeds up typing and minimizes strain.

Dr. Antti Oulasvirta, Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics in Germany, says:

The key to optimizing a keyboard for two thumbs is to minimize long typing sequences that only involve a single thumb. It is also important to place frequently used letter keys centrally close to each other.

Experienced typists move their thumbs simultaneously: while one thumb is selecting a particular key, the other thumb is approaching its next target. From these insights we derived a predictive behavioral model we could use to optimize the keyboard.

KALQ also has built in error correction that takes into account thumb movements and a statistical analysis of the text being typed. This enables uses to reach a speed of 37 words per minute as opposed to 20 on a QWERTY layout.

The researchers will present their work at the CHI 2013 conference in Paris on 1st May and KALQ will be available as a free download for Android-based devices.

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