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Emerson Development LLC

Advances in Computers and Communications

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The conventional keyboard layout is an archaic design that does not meet the needs of modern PC usage patterns

Textured Keys -- Tactile Improvements Help Your Hands Find Their Way

This innovation addresses two issues:

    1) helping your hands find the home keys, and

    2) helping your fingers identify “important” keys to make sure you hit the right one.

Texturize These Keys: Everyone who has taken a typing class has learned that the home row “F” and “J” keys have little bumps on them to make them tactilely identifiable. The concept is to make them distinctive so your fingers can identify these keys by feel. It’s a good concept with a poor implementation. Those little bumps are just too indistinct for the average finger to take notice. Our solution is to texturize the tops of these keys -- the texture can be sandy, gritty, tacky, or any other distinctive texture that can be applied to a keytop. We all have an everyday encounter with a type of material that makes a perfect example: the rubber grip surfaces on toothbrushes.

A material such as this will be instantly identifiable by the fingers.

Why the home keys? When using a mouse, the hands (especially the right hand) constantly move from their home position. Texturizing the home keys offers better tactile feedback to correctly reposition your hands on returning to the keyboard.  It’ll be useful a thousand times a day.

Which are the “important” keys? A key is just a key -- unless it does something more than present a character on the screen. There are four “editing” keys whose actions make them “important” -- Enter, Delete, Backspace, and Tab.  They delete characters, words, and paragraphs, change formatting, and reposition the cursor, among other actions. And, they can cause undesirable actions if hit inadvertently. The problem is even further compounded if you aren’t looking at the screen at the moment you mistype one of these keys, and keep on typing. When you do look up it can be quite a puzzle to figure out what all went wrong.

All of these editing keys are “long reach” for your fingers. Notice as you type -- you can comfortably reach one key up or down from the home row -- that’s why all the character keys are in these adjacent positions. Any more than that is a stretch. Most fingers are very confident with reaching these home row and adjacent row keys. But, beyond that is iffy.

There are two basic scenarios:

“Wanted Backspace, hit “=”
“Wanted “=”, hit Backspace

This simple innovation will give you positive feedback as reassurance that you’ve hit the right key when you reach for one of these editing keys. On the flip side, you’ll know instantly if you accidentally hit one of these keys by mistake -- the Tab key instead of the 1 or Caps Lock, for instance, or the Backspace key instead of the equal sign, or the Delete key instead of the End key.

The central portion of a keyboard having the Home and Editing keys texturized might look like this:

 

Another simple improvement to make keyboards noticeably better.

 

 

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