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Researchers create innovative KALQ keyboard for faster thumb-typing, Android app coming in May

Posted: , by Daniel P.

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Researchers create innovative KALQ keyboard for faster thumb-typing, Android app coming in May

There is no shortage of weird virtual keyboard solutions in the Play Store, claiming to solve the puzzle of easy typing on a piece of glass. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Montana and University of St Andrews, have come up with the newest entrant in that category, called KALQ.

They are aiming to release it next month as a dedicated app in the Google Play Store for free, claiming that countless hours went into scientifically testing the most suitable arrangement for on-screen keyboards. The location of the keys is unorthodox, and the researchers say it requires a few hours of training, like you did when you started typing on QWERTY ones, but afterwards the speed of typing increased 34% compared to the conventional layout you'd find on tablets like the iPad and Android slates. As advantages of the new KALQ keyboard over the traditional QWERTY solution they point out:

  1. The division of work is almost equal, at 54% and 46% for the right and left thumb, respectively.
  2. Alternation is rapid: 62% of the taps are switches.
  3. Travel distances are short: On average, the left thumb moves 86 px, the right 117.
  4. The spacebars are centrally located.
  5. The right thumb handles all vowels except y. The clustering of vowels around the spacebar favors quick switches and minimizes travel distance. The right thumb is responsible for 64% of same-side taps.
  6. 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.
source: MaxPlanck via SWR

17 Comments
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posted on 24 Apr 2013, 08:43 1

1. tech2 (Posts: 1882; Member since: 26 Oct 2012)


Point 5.

Since when 'y' was a vowel. WOW !!! o.O

Also, how is this keyboard different from Apple's similar keyboard layout option on iPad ?

posted on 24 Apr 2013, 14:46

7. thephoneguy92 (Posts: 191; Member since: 29 Dec 2011)


The letter y is often times considered a vowel, although I guess it's not written in store. It doesn't make sense, but welcome to the English language

posted on 24 Apr 2013, 15:43 2

8. Stuntman (Posts: 711; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)


When I was in elementary school, I learned that the vowels are "A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y."

posted on 24 Apr 2013, 09:17 2

2. SellPhones82 (Posts: 488; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)


Did you go to a Public School or something? Yes, "Y" can be a vowel or consonant. My, why, sky, are all examples of Y as a vowel.
Did you even look at the picture of the keyboard? It's not QWERTY so the layout is nothing close to the iPad keyboard or any other keyboard, for that matter. The top four keys for your right thumb are G, T, O, J. Seems like there would be a high learning curve getting use to the new locations for each letter.

posted on 24 Apr 2013, 09:54

3. scriptwriter (Posts: 396; Member since: 13 Nov 2012)


its nothing new. Swiftkey has the option to split the keyboard like that.

posted on 20 May 2013, 01:10

16. zinniadx (Posts: 4; Member since: 29 Apr 2013)


Although Swiftkey had designed such layout, but with this, after a little practice you can type 34% faster.

posted on 24 Apr 2013, 12:12 2

4. AlanB412 (Posts: 29; Member since: 23 Jul 2012)


Jumping balls of alphabet soup Batman! Those commenters just can't seem to understand that the split-keyboard isn't the bid deal here. It's the letter ordering that's been changed to make typing more efficient.

posted on 24 Apr 2013, 14:25

6. SellPhones82 (Posts: 488; Member since: 11 Dec 2008)


Thanks you! At least someone gets it and understand the entire point of the article! Yes, there are many keyboard that are split, but none are split like this one.

posted on 24 Apr 2013, 13:21

5. buccob (Posts: 1354; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


Unless standardization for this is made, it is useless for somebody to learn this and then jump back to qwerty on your computer...

I rather have Swipe on my Android device, which helps a lot on speed... maybe not 34% but close enough

posted on 24 Apr 2013, 15:48

9. Stuntman (Posts: 711; Member since: 01 Aug 2011)


I don't believe that it will only take a few hours training. When I took a typing course, it was an entire year course to learn to type on a QWERTY keyboard layout. Some time after the course, I tried Dvorak keyboard layout that is supposed to be more efficient than the QWERTY layout. I tried it for a few days and gave up.

I do think that people equally proficient with a QWERTY and KALQ layout will be faster using KALQ. However, I really think it will take weeks before you really become proficient and likely longer before you can realise the benefits of the KALQ layout.

posted on 25 Apr 2013, 01:38

13. TheMan (Posts: 399; Member since: 21 Sep 2012)


That long, eh? My HS typing course was a 3 month affair and we were expected to know key locations within the first month. At the end of the class we had to hit 40 wpm to pass.

The graphic shows that it isn't until the 8th test day before proficiency reaches QWERTY levels (on average, I presume). It doesn't say how many hours of training this represents.

posted on 24 Apr 2013, 17:17

10. downphoenix (Posts: 2293; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


well QWERTY came because of the fact that typing was TOO FAST with old keyboard layouts, which literally were ABCDEF etc. This format was too fast and so they had to come up with a format that would be fast but not so fast that people would break their typewriters quickly, so QWERTY was born. It was designed to be fast but not too fast.

posted on 24 Apr 2013, 18:10 1

11. sprockkets (Posts: 1153; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


It wasn't because of speed, but to spread out the keys used all around to prevent typewriters from jamming.

posted on 25 Apr 2013, 08:40

14. buccob (Posts: 1354; Member since: 19 Jun 2012)


And jamming was cause because of speed typing...

Anyway both of you are correct... And I would love to see ABC's keyboard truly come back... but since it is so far away from reality, lets stick to qwerty

posted on 25 Apr 2013, 17:43

15. sprockkets (Posts: 1153; Member since: 16 Jan 2012)


You are close but whatever. Speed was only half the issue.

posted on 25 Apr 2013, 00:46

12. Trex95 (Posts: 543; Member since: 03 Mar 2013)


Copied from Ipad.

posted on 11 Jun 2013, 02:47

17. zinniadx (Posts: 4; Member since: 29 Apr 2013)


KALQ had broken the trend of QWERTY in iPad, & other phones to minimize the movement of the thumbs. The main motive behind the design of KALQ is to save your thumbs stretching across the screen.you can check outfresh.com for more info. 

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