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New Keyboard Has Just 53 Keys

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the museum-piece-or-wave-of-the-future dept.

Input Devices 638

Enigma5O writes to tell us The Tech Zone is reporting on a new style of keyboard with just 53 keys. Departing from the normal QWERTY keyboard setup the 'New Standard Keyboard' designed by John Parkinson measures just 12.5 inches wide x 5 inches deep x 1 inch thick and is arranged in alphabetical order. The keyboard has been designed with ergonomics in mind keeping all keys within easy reach of the home position. The only question is, will everyone be willing to relearn how to type?

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My Theory of Keyboard Design (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307935)

Ok, I looked at this keyboard and (aside from moving the keys to an abcd format) it seems to use more of shift-like functionality. Each key I see has 5 labelings and I hope to god that the ones I can't make out in white are the numbers because I can't seem to find them anywhere else on this freak of nature.

I just counted on my own traditional 101-key keyboard 146 or so different values I could want to send to the computer. So let's use that number in a brief analysis of methods we could use to design a keyboard.

On one hand, you could have a physical key for each and every character/signal you want to send. Yes, even upper case letters would be a key different from lower case.

On the other hand, you could say that combinations of keys count for sending signals. This assumes the user can depressed keys instantly but this means that for each key, we've doubled the amount of signals we can send. So, the smallest power of 2 above 146 is 256 or 2^8. And this is fine because we have 10 fingers which is more then enough to hit 8, if required.

However, we don't want a keyboard with a key for every signal and we don't want to have to memorize combinations and press down on keys instantly to obtain the desired signal.

What we do want is a happy medium.

Both the 101 and 53 key methods provide that medium, I guess it's just a case of who came first (similar to the problem with Dvorak simplified keyboard [wikipedia.org] Which many people have contended is better than QWERTY yet has not taken off like it should have.

Unless this new keyboard poses some amazing qualities that set it far and above the old design, it's probably not going to take ...

... and I'm not seeing these innovative designs, just a need for me to memorize a new key pattern.

Re:My Theory of Keyboard Design (4, Funny)

dsginter (104154) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307969)

While we're at it, we should all convert to a more sensible language like Spanish. English is just too difficult to master.

Re:My Theory of Keyboard Design (0, Flamebait)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308038)

Esperanto, please. No masculine/feminine/neuter, no irregular verbs, only one way to form plurals...

Re:My Theory of Keyboard Design (2, Interesting)

fshalor (133678) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308093)

"No memore me propo nomo!"

I actually woundn't mind one of these if it would be QWERRty and have a light touch. Most keyboards I've messed with I can't stand. Only the laptop keyboards a re really good for me (due to wrist issues.)

I *love* my iBook kb.... wish I had it on all my machines.

Re:My Theory of Keyboard Design (4, Insightful)

Crayon Kid (700279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307970)

The Dvorak layout had a lot of theoretical goodness going for it and still couldn't take over QWERTY. How can this one?

Re:My Theory of Keyboard Design (0)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308073)

The main reason (as I undertand it) that the DVORAK keyboard hasn't taken over is due to royalties. I don't know if the guy who invented it is charging too much or what. Hoever, I have noticed they cost quite a bit more than standard keyboards.

Re:My Theory of Keyboard Design (5, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308119)

80-20 rule: not all of those 146 different values you could send are used that often. A good keyboard design would be based on an analysis of what letters and keys are pressed most often (assuming we want to keep the principle of one key per letter, one key for Enter and so on) and have a kind of Huffman coding so that the most commonly used characters are quickest to type.

Programmers type characters like { } $ ( ) = + more often than the general population. It would be an awesome geek-toy to have a keyboard which promoted these characters to their own keys and relegated those useless squiggles like vowels to Shift-Ctrl combinations ;-).

QWERTY, DVORAK, ABCDEF (2, Informative)

Krast0r (843081) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307936)

As many of you will know, QWERTY was actually made to slow typists down (to most Slashdot readers however, it seems to have been ineffective) so an alphabetic arrangement, which was the original arrangement of letters on a typewriter AFAIK, would probably speed typing were anyone to learn it. However, some of you will have heard of the Dvorak keyboard layoyut, this was designed with speed in mind locating the most-used keys in the easiest to reach positions. (More about Dvorak: http://www.mwbrooks.com/dvorak/ [mwbrooks.com]). This seems to be almost stuck in the middle of two ideas: QWERTY being well-known; DVORAK being supposedly the best for speed and ergonomic typing. I'm not sure why anyone would buy this keyboard (or use this layout with another keyboard) although it could come in handy for teaching children to use computers - I know when I was first introduced to a computer I couldn't understand why the keys were where they were.

Re:QWERTY, DVORAK, ABCDEF (3, Interesting)

LikwidFlux (924068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307952)

That's not completely true, the QWERTY setup was in part setup so that typewriter salesman could quickly and efficiently type "TYPEWRITER" (take a look at the letters, all in the top row).


Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307958)

I wonder how difficult it would be to figure out a way to take the keyboard I use right now, pop off the keys, put them in the DVORAK position, and just change the programming so it works that way.


eggstasy (458692) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307977)

It's easy to do, I pop off my keys every now and then to clean them, and I'm sure at least the alphanumeric keys would fit in with each other regardless of how I order them. Plus there are DVORAK keyboard mappings for every OS I know.

Re:QWERTY, DVORAK, ABCDEF (2, Informative)

Esine (809139) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308005)

It's easy, that's how I did it. The current keyboard I'm using is actually QWERTY, but I've changed the locations of keys to match DVORAK and then I simply changed my keyboard type in X11 config file. Now I have a fully working DVORAK keyboard :)

So yeah, just use some tool, like a screwdriver, to pop up all the keys and then replace them to match dvorak.
Here's some tutorial on how to do it (with nice photos): http://dvzine.org/type/reconfig.html [dvzine.org]

  -- dbg

Re:QWERTY, DVORAK, ABCDEF (2, Interesting)

47F0 (523453) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308039)

Exchanging the keycaps is trivial on some keyboards. For example, No Big Deal on my IBM Model M - the last good keyboard made. Other keyboards have the keys contoured differently depending on the row they are on, and even if you switch the keycaps around, the different contours feel really uneven.

Why re-arrange anyway? Presumably if you bothered to learn Dvorak, you learned to touchtype anyway. I'm typing this in Dvorak, on my laptop, and my fingers really can't tell the difference as far as what's painted on the keycaps. I did my personal Model M, but 99% of the keyboards I type on have qwerty painted on them. So?

Re:QWERTY, DVORAK, ABCDEF (3, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307964)

The theory that the QWERTY keyboard was designed specifically to slow typists down is a myth [earthlink.net]...the real reason was mechanical....commonly used keys needed to be placed far away from each other to prevent the levers from jamming.

Re:QWERTY, DVORAK, ABCDEF (2, Insightful)

Freexe (717562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307980)

The jams where caused when you typed over a certain speed (albeit a slow speed) so the "myth" does hold some truth.


zootm (850416) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307995)

The jams where caused when you typed over a certain speed (albeit a slow speed) so the "myth" does hold some truth.

Yes, but the changes increased the speed that could be typed without jamming the typewriter, rather than reducing the speed that people typed normally (this would be a temporary effect, at best).

Re:QWERTY, DVORAK, ABCDEF (2, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308044)

You can jam a mechanical typewriter simply by hitting the correct keys at the same time to make two adjacent "hammers" strike the paper at the same time. You can do it by typing at essentially zero speed.

The faster you type the more likely this is for a given keyboard/hammer layout, it's true, but QWERTY most definitely was not designed to slow typists down; quite the reverse.


orasio (188021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308064)

The jams where caused when you typed over a certain speed (albeit a slow speed) so the "myth" does hold some truth.

The jams were caused by fast typers. Solution #1 would have been to tell them to go slower. The solution they chose was to change the design, so typists could type faster without clogging the keys. Of course, it takes time to learn to type fast in this layout, but it isn't designed to slow typists, and is doesn't do it.
The myth holds no truth.


MediumFormat (771662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308101)

Ah, it's an earthlink page! No finer source for myth-debunking :) If the layout was designed to prevent jamming, then perhaps certain keys were spaced to prevent too rapid of use... thus less jamming.... in a sense, slowing the typist down.


Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308123)

Or perhaps commonly-used keys were spaced so as to allow more rapid-fire use without jamming, thus speeding typing, not slowing it...

Re:QWERTY, DVORAK, ABCDEF (2, Interesting)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308106)

Let us not forget the real scientific research that went into making QWERTY, such as putting all the letters for the word TYPEWRITER together on the top row so salesmen didn't have to learn much.


47F0 (523453) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308138)

Amen. I don't use Dvorak for the speed. My speed IS slightly faster with Dvorak, but it's a very marginal difference. QWERTY doesn't suck for speed, although I don't know if that's more of a tribute to the layout, or the sheer adaptability of human wet-wiring. I don't use it because after a half century of various kinds of wear and tear on my digits... Dvorak doesn't hurt at the end of the day.

Dvorak's much easier on the fingers. I switched after nearly 30 years of QWERTY - and I've never looked back. There are occasions when I have to spend some qwerty time, and the result is always the same - pain.

But propagating myths about qwerty being "designed" to slow down typists, IMHO, totally obscures some of the real benefits of Dvorak. Stop the FUD.


Randall_Jones (849846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307985)

That's not exactly true. Qwerty might slow people down, but the intent was to put the most commonly used letters as far apart as possible so the metal arms that hold the type wouldn't jam together. It was a spatial issue rather than a speed issue. Find an old typewriter and press two keys that are close together simultaneously and you'll see what I mean.

One word anwser (5, Insightful)

ZiakII (829432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307937)

The only question is, will everyone be willing to relearn how to type?


Re:One word anwser (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14307973)

The only question is, will everyone be willing to relearn how to type?

I hdva bewn psink thns ntw k3ybderd fgr tge lezt twd wqeks, snd I cvn hqnfstly sny twat ft hdz grwbhly omprpved py twpvng spwed mnd ackuraly.

Re:One word anwser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14308022)

Somehow, I managed to read that entire sentence.

"I have been using this new keyboard for the last two weeks, and I can honestly say that it has greatly improved my typing speed and accuracy."

Re:One word anwser (1)

brentcastle (807566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308094)

yes. please note the many dvorak layout users. only reason to use qwerty is because everyone else uses qwerty (much like Office file formats instead of open ones).

Re:One word anwser (2, Interesting)

sec0ndshooter (577896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308103)

Aren't we at a point where children should be taught QWERTY alongside their ABC's? QWERTY is obviously an important sequence to learn.

Re:One word anwser (1)

mwilliamson (672411) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308141)

Learning where the keys are spacially so that you hit a key and not inbetween them, or dead air is the hardest thing about learning how to type. Learning what letter is at each of these locations is separate, and easier. I've been typing on dvorak for about 10 years now and love it. It's not that hard to learn another format. I would, however, suggest not toggling back and forth until you've mastered the new format.

Re:One word anwser (2, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308142)

### The only question is, will everyone be willing to relearn how to type?

Typing text via mobile phones and 0-9 Numpads seems to be pretty popular, PDAs often use different text input as well, so people don't seem to have that much throuble with relearning. The throuble is that with desktop computers you simply don't have enough force to push them to relearn it, Dvorak or other new layouts might be better than Qwerty, but they are not that much better and neither do they provide any other significant benefit, instead using Dvorak layout can be quite confusing a lot of times since keyboard shortcuts might be hard to reach and games might end up unplayable with Dvorak layout, so people stay with what they got. On PDAs and mobile phones you are limited to what you got, so you often simply can't chose Qwerty instead but learn to life with what you got.

In the end I doubt that we can say goodbye to Qwerty anytime soon, heck, I would already be *very* happy if we could finally get rid of those sucky numpads or at the very least make them detachable to get the mouse a lot closer to the right arm, but not even that seems to happen, only very few keyboards provide that feature. In the end I think one of the throuble is that keyboards these days are often simply very cheap, very cheap, so if you can have a standard keyboard for 10EUR, people have a hard time to skip that and buy a better one for 50EUR or really good one for 300EUR (Kinesis and friends). If alternative layouts would be much cheaper and easier obtainable they still might not kill Qwerty, but at least more people might give them a try.

Space Key (5, Interesting)

Freexe (717562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307938)

They seem to have forgotten the space key?

Any keyboard without a big bar that either thumb can use to space will never take off in my book. But maybe the PDA market will like it

Re:Space Key (2, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308015)

There's a "SpFn" key directly in the bottom-center of the keyboard. I assume that means a combination of the SpaceBar and Function buttons.

Of course, if they can get away with a keyboard design like this, my keyboard design should rule the world! Just images, all your keys arranged in a circular fashion on a lazy suzan. As you type, you spin the keyboard to move the buttons into position for striking. I'll be rich, rich I tell you!

Or maybe this Fisher Price keyboard isn't going anywhere. (Except out the door.)

Cool Trick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14308048)

Cross your hands and you would start typing in ROT13!

Re:Space Key (1)

plebeian (910665) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308060)

I would be willing to bet that one could loose their thumbs and type just as fast on a standard keyboard. I switched to a Kinesis Advantage keyboard and found that my thumbs are actually usefull when typing. If people are looking for an improvement in functionality I strongly recomend it. Having the space,enter,pg up, pg dn, and ctrl under my right thumb and the backspace,del,home,end, and alt under my left has increased my productivity by at least 5-10%. -No I do not have any ties to Kinesis other then I have given them a couple hundred dollars for a keyboard.

Short answer (-1, Redundant)

pv2b (231846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307942)

The only question is, will everyone be willing to relearn how to type?

I doubt it (5, Insightful)

sucker_muts (776572) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307944)

This keyboard will be equally succesfull as the dvorak keyboard [wikipedia.org]. People are so accustomed to their 'native 'keyboard (I have azerty but can type fairly well on qwerty) they won't change unless this new keyboard really is so much better.
As for gamers, why would I want to give up the luxury of binding each and every key I want from the standard 101-key design to a special function, or why would I want to reset my movement/jump/whatever keys?

Unless they give away bars of gold with each one I don't see why the general public might need this keyboard.

From the article: Alphabetical letters are easier to find and keys are color-coded on the NSK535R to aid hunt & peck typists
So people who are new to computers need to 'find' keys on their keyboard? After a while you know where they are, I guess. I don't think new computer users would like to be treated as children with such a nice colorful slimmed down keyboard. I expect people want the whole deal, even if it's only for later on...

Re:I doubt it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14308059)

"(I have azerty but can type fairly well on qwerty)"

I have freedom keys. :-)

Re:I doubt it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14308108)

No, I'm belgian. We use the standard azerty keys france also uses. Since when did this turn into a patriotism topic?

asdhfdljsa fsa;c fjewcfe (4, Funny)

Galston (895804) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307951)

s ajfds jfd skxloq fjdksl;oncds!!!! s)

Re:asdhfdljsa fsa;c fjewcfe (1)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308006)

Still having to get used to the new keyboard he? Well, pretty random characters say more than a 1000 words (-:

Re:asdhfdljsa fsa;c fjewcfe (0, Redundant)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308023)

adsfja;lkj34 qklj43al; ga;lkja d;slk LOL!

Re:asdhfdljsa fsa;c fjewcfe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14308116)

asgxdagzxc ascadzsxc sa dcz xsaf A'A"F;": 5{61ês21@!~

I wonder if the parent knows my lit teacher...same last name...

What is the killer app? (1)

ReformedExCon (897248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307955)

The problem with any new interface is its rate of acceptance. With standard QWERTY keyboards firmly entrenched, there really isn't a place for a new keyboard layout for computers.

However, there are many places where a well-designed keyboard could be useful. Cell phones need a good keyboard design. Cash registers are notoriously over-keyed. Even airport check in counters could stand a new interface.

The site isn't loading the picture of the keyboard, but aside from the "split" keyboard, there really hasn't been any keyboard layout that has caught on.

Pictures (5, Informative)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307968)

Here [google.co.uk]

Re:Pictures (5, Funny)

bje2 (533276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307988)

Um, even with safe search on, what is up with that 2nd pic???

Re:Pictures (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308050)

Um, even with safe search on, what is up with that 2nd pic???
I wish I knew what you were seeing - for me the second pic is the one with the typewriter...

Re:Pictures (1)

bje2 (533276) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308067)

When i followed the parent's google images link, this was (and still is) the 2nd picture:

http://images.google.co.uk/images?q=tbn:7x_zMG3HNp 4J:upl.silentwhisper.net/uplfolders/upload7/weee.j pg [google.co.uk]

Re:Pictures (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308085)

When i followed the parent's google images link, this was (and still is) the 2nd picture
Still no luck - I get a 'Not Found' for that, and the server at the original domain is unreponsive...

Colours (1)

Jotii (932365) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308001)

Are those colours there on the real keyboard, or are they only on the pictures in order to show where the keys are?

Re:Colours (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308097)

They're on the real keyboard - the colour-coding is one of the selling points. It helps new users identify the alphabetical keys more easily, apparently.

Re:Colours (1)

BarryNorton (778694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308125)

Are those colours there on the real keyboard, or are they only on the pictures in order to show where the keys are?
I think they're on the final product - it does look rather Fisher Price...

Impossible to game with (4, Funny)

ezpei (461814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307976)

You'd need two hands just to reach A, W, S, and D and god forbid you have to strafe

Re:Impossible to game with (1)

quickbasicguru (886035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308012)

Why would it be so hard to remap the controls for the game?

Re:Impossible to game with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14308054)

Never use WASD myself, I find it too awkward, I always remap to DZXC.

Re:Impossible to game with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14308069)

Because were lazy and why the heck should we do it?

No Numbers (5, Insightful)

TexTex (323298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307981)

Well, I can appreciate the space-saving design in theory, but I doubt anything good will come from a keyboard in which you need to use a Function key to type a number. Laptops may have this feature, but they also have a regular number row.

A side note: The article uses "There are only half as many keys to learn" as an advantage. Not quite. I still need to learn all the keys, but there's only half as many spaces in which to put them. So I'm learning at least two key positions for every button...if not more.


Re:No Numbers (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308147)

A side note: The article uses "There are only half as many keys to learn" as an advantage.

Actually, I think it makes it harder, if anything. On a standard keyboard, I just have to know where the keys are - and if I'm not touch-typing I only really have to know roughly where they are, my eyes will do the rest.

Conversely, with this keyboard I not only have to know where a given symbol is, I have to know which modifier key(s) to hold down in order to "activate" it. Now I need to know three (or even four?) keys to press to obtain a symbol, rather than just one or two. How is that easier?

Talking Computron (1)

kurps (790990) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307984)

That sounds like the keyboard that was on my first computer like toy. The Talking Computron, it was sold by Sears and contained many learning / teaching games. One of my memories of playing with the computron was playing hangman with my Aunt. She had considerable trouble typing on it as she was used to the qwerty layout. Now im going to have to go home and play with the Talking Computron over Christmas/Holiday break.

lol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14307989)

GNOME developers confirmed. More keys would clearly irritate new users :)

Advances for gamers? (1)

mrL1nX (798019) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307990)

"offer several advances over standard keyboard designs for businesses, home users, gamers " (From TFA)

So much for my WSAD key combination. How are you supposed to effectivly play games if you have to use function keys for every other move.

Re:Advances for gamers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14308076)

Probably with those big purple arrow buttons in the center of the keyboard.

Dude, I have something better. (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307994)

I just invented a language to replace English. English is clunky and antiquated. My new language uses less words and extensive color coding. Aside from needed to relearn how to read, write, and speak... it's way better.

Why stop there? (1)

a_nonamiss (743253) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307996)

While I can't see the keyboard because the site is slashdotted, why did they stop at 53 keys? If you wanted to go for a truly minimalist design, why not go with something like the frogpad [frogpad.com] instead. I've heard from people that it's very efficient and easy to use, although its price prevents me from casually "trying one out." I think the idea of one-handed typing is pretty seductive. If I'm going to completely re-learn how to type, it's going to be with purpose, not just so I can cut down on slightly less than half the keys.

Looks nasty (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14307998)

A good keyboard isn't about the number of keys being optimal, it is about how good it is to use, it's tactile response and a myriad of other things.

Take for example the MSX style cursor + in the middle of the keyboard. It isn't biased to either side for single-handed operation, and an upside-down T is better for the middle finger anyway than a +. They'd have been better off adding a 'Cursor' function key and assigning it to WASD or IJKL (well, the alphabetical arrangement that corresponds to those qwerty keys anyway).

As for the ordering, Serenity shows that we'd still be using standard plastic PC keyboards in the distant future. So why bother trying to reinvent the keyboard. Again. Times a hundred.

The major issue with keyboards these days is that navigation isn't integrated (excepting nipple/clit mice) so most users will spend their time switching between the mouse and the keyboard. There are some keyboards that integrate a trackpad, but they lack the feedback that normal keys provide.

Relearning how to Type (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308004)

The article states:
Keys are aligned with natural movements of fingers to insure proper posture when typing
This is a good thing.

Alphabetical letters are easier to find and keys are color-coded on the NSK535R to aid hunt & peck typists
Easier to find if you have never typed before, otherwise they will be just as hard to find.

All keys can be easily reached from the home position
This is true if you have small hands.

Shift keys are centralized and shift characters can be typed one-handed for assisted applications and handicapped
This may be a good thing

Editing keys are integrated
This also may be a good thing

The keyboard has a smaller footprint, which allows the mouse to be placed right next to the typing keys
This is not necessarily good, a smaller keyboard may just cramp your hands and typing leading to more mistakes?

There are only half as many keys to learn
Again, if you are using it for the first time, otherwise there are 100% more keys to learn.

It looks interesting but I am not so sure it will catch on quickly.

Re:Relearning how to Type (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308070)

Alphabetical letters are easier to find and keys are color-coded on the NSK535R to aid hunt & peck typists
Easier to find if you have never typed before, otherwise they will be just as hard to find.

Surely an alphabetical arrangement is a long 1D array of keys?

This keyboard is not even the 1D arrangement split up into 3 rows.

It is the 1D arrangement split up into SIX rows, three on the left (A-M) and three on the right (N-Z).

People don't actually have a natural association regarding the alphabet that maps it to a 4x6 (+2 extra somewhere) layout.

So that whole advantage is just made up, it is probably a disadvantage, as the person will be using a layout that will never be useful for them to learn.

threshold limits (2, Insightful)

seldrick (917594) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308013)

While it does piss me off that I'm relatively efficient at a system designed to cap efficincy rather than maximize it, a) I'm not sure that I could retrain my fingers easily enough to warrant the switch to a different device, and more importantly b) I'm not sure it would make me much faster, as my fingers already tend to get ahead of my brain. What's really improved my efficiency is the backspace (delete) key that saves me from having to pull the paper out, hit it with an eraser or liquid paper, then line it back up, sort of, everytime my brain falls behind. I would be willing to retrain myself to use a keyboard layout that let me type with relative efficiency with one hand....eventually.

This doesn't seem meant for speed typing... (1)

rsidd (6328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308018)

the article says things like colour coding (and probably the ABCDEF arrangement too, though it doesn't say) are to aid "hunt-and-peck" typists. It nowhere talks about increased speed, unlike dvorak.

The problem is nobody's likely to stay hunt-and-peck forever. And nobody's likely to use the same computer forever. I wouldn't recommend it even to newbies.

As for the claim that qwerty was meant to slow you down: that was a myth. What it was meant to do was to place frequently typed letters far apart so that they wouldn't jam if struck together.

Re:This doesn't seem meant for speed typing... (1)

AntEater (16627) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308139)

"The problem is nobody's likely to stay hunt-and-peck forever."

You obviously haven't worked with some of my co-workers. I know a programmer/sysadmin who has been hunt & peck for about 20 years (maybe more).
Never underestimate the average human's resistance to change.

Re:This doesn't seem meant for speed typing... (0)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308143)

The problem is nobody's likely to stay hunt-and-peck forever.

It's been 15 years. I'm still hunting and pecking at the old qwerty keyboards. My typing is erratic, as is my spelling, but I can get up to sixty words a minute if I even bother.

I don't really feel a huge incentive to go through a touch type course. Most of my programming time is spent just stitting back and thinking of how I can write the least possible code without being too terse... if you follow.

People I know who touch type are only good if they keep it up ALL the time. Those I know who only dip into a touch type program and then don't really use it tend to be slower than I am as I glance down at the keyboard.

Is touch type worth it? If you type a LOT then yes, it's a no brainer. But if the biggest typing sessions of your day are posts to Slashdot, then I'm not so sure. Besides, touch typing doesn't really cater to programming syntax, especially perl's. ($@%{} etc,etc)

Yes. I am aware that I look like a fool as I look down at the keys. But I simlpy don't type enought to make a touch typing course worth it.

Actually, I find it interesting... (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308019)

...but I wonder just what it is they have patented? According to the article:

New Standard Keyboards (NSK) of Santa Maria, California will introduce a new line of patented USB-interface computer keyboards at CES, which have just 53-keys and offer several advances over standard keyboard designs for businesses, home users, gamers and assistive technology users.

Now certainly even the USPTO wouldn't allow a patent on alphabetical arrangement, so I'm guessing it must be with the USB interface. Anybody have any info has to what they are doing that is original and non-obvious?

Less is more (1)

broothal (186066) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308028)

Albeit 53 keys are too little, I like the idea of less keys on my keyboard.

I don't want a windows key. Nor do I need an email key. Or a key to open my browser. Or a volume slider.

My old metal IBM keyboard is still the best I've ever seen.

"Follow up" from earlier /. story (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14308029)

Is it a dupe or an update?
story [slashdot.org]

Ergonomic? (4, Interesting)

ccweigle (25237) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308042)

Um, is the "ergonomic rule" about putting commonly used keys under strong fingers only one of these "everybody knows it's true" and not a real truth? 'Cause this sucker has 4 vowels under pinkies (a, e, i under the left pinky at that). Wouldn't that be bad ergonomic design, if the finger-strength rule is real?

You heard it here first... (4, Informative)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308043)

This article [lowendmac.com], written in JANUARY, provides a better overview of the product.

A few interesting quotes...

That's because the QWERTY layout was never intended to slow down typists - a common accusation from Dvorak supporters - but to allow them to type quickly without jamming the keys in their typewriters. In other words, QWERTY was designed to be efficient, too.

The New Standard Keyboard addresses the issue of key layout by subsuming ergonomics and typing efficiency for the sake of the hunt-and-peck typist.

Meaning it targets the lowest common denominator... another quote I read said that it was target at (or atleast could appeal to) senior citizens and those who don't know how to type. I can see that... but figure the market for people who are going to die before it makes sense to learn how to type is probably not that large or sustainable. Could be wrong.

Anyways the website for the product is here [newstandardkeyboards.com], and appears to under reconstruction. Lame... like the color scheme of this keyboard.

Old news... lame news... next please.

I created a new type of car (5, Funny)

hedleyroos (817147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308047)

It has only a gas pedal. You have to pull the door handle and hit gas simultaneously to brake.

I switched the gearlever from the traditional five to a more ergonomical two gears and second gear is the default. Studies have proven that more motorists pull away in second.

We expect this new model to replace traditional models around the same time DVORAK replaces QWERTY.

Looks like... (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308058)

a keyboard that might come with a childrens' toy computer... too cute for me, and the alphabetical keyboard has been proven time and time again to be very inefficient, difficult to learn, and counterintuitive.

QWERTY is more efficient, but still not the best, as its primary design philosophy was to keep typewriters from jamming by keeping commonly adjacent letters far away from each other on the keyboard

DVORAK supporters say that it was designed to minimize the distance that your fingers travel, but for some reason, I could just never get used to having to type all vowels with my left hand (and hence the right brain). Language is predominantly handled in the left brain, and vowels are sort of mathematical in language, so it stands to reason that the building blocks of words (vowels) should be handled by the left brain.

Standard? (1)

quickbasicguru (886035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308062)

The thing that I like about the Dvorak layout is that it is a standard, so one can easily remap the keys on a computer using software usally included with the OS.

What about the people who would want to remap their keyboard (just to try the layout out) to this style?

"Chording" keyboards are not new (3, Informative)

dickwolf (882711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308088)

May I recommend the Kinesis Ergo keyboard? [kinesis-ergo.com]

This device helped my wrists recover from severe tendonitis; I have had no relapses. The keys are arranged in vertical columns, which is something the "New Standard" got right, but it looks as if it forces your hands to remain unnaturally close together. Also, "chording" (pressing more than one key simultaneously) just creates superfluous keystrokes.

1TZ GR3AT, 3V3RY-1 SHUD HAV 1 (2, Funny)

ahodgkinson (662233) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308098)


51N5 1T HAZ L355 K33Z 1 KAN AL50 T1P3 FA5T3R + M0R3 AKURAT3LY.


TypeMatrix (2, Interesting)

Nycto (138650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308104)

I've heard and read about Dvorak keyboards before, and this article made me want to go buy one. I realize that I could just remap my current keyboard, but I would like something with all the keys marked. When I did a quick froogle search, I came up with this site: http://www.typematrix.com/dvorak/ [typematrix.com] I have *never* seen a keyboard like that. Has anyone used them? Are they comfortable? Whats the deal with the orthogonal layout?

The Programmers Keyboard (1)

h_benderson (928114) | more than 8 years ago | (#14308107)

I'd neither want to start a VI vs Emacs flamewar, nor be too off-topic, but here are my thoughts on the design of an ideal keyboard (for programmers, that is).

I am using Emacs, and of the only two weaknesses this editor has in my opinion, one is that it can cause hand injuries. On many keyboards, the often used ctrl and meta keys are available only on the left side of the keyboard, leading to a twisted hand when one tries to combine them with a nearby letter. To avoid this hand-twisting, these keys must be easily reachable, by both hands, and without taking the hands off the home row. The positions that satisfy this requirement are those reachable by the pinkies, directly on the side of the homerow and maybe the upper or lower row. So, caps-lock, shift and tab qualify on the left side, and locale-specific keys qualify on the right side.

To get the ideal Emacs-Programmer-Keyboard, a remapping of keys is necessary. Of course that's where things get complicated. While the hardly-used caps-lock is the ideal candidate for ctrl, tab and shift are more often used, and on the right side of the keyboard, it's even more complicated. I am still trying to find the ideal layout, if someone thinks he/she has found it, let me know.

The other weakness of Emacs by the way is the insanely steep learning curve and complex configuration, should it be used for more than basic text editing (i.e. code completion, folding, macros and so on).
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