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Re-mappable keyboard

Death to QWERTY, eventually.
(+3, -3)
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When typewriters were first created, the keyboard was laid out with the most frequently used letters and letter combinations (in English, at least) in positions calculated to maximize typing speed. As a result, it was easy to type so fast that the keys would jam frequently. So the QWERTY keyboard was invented to slow typists down. Computer keyboards don't have the speed limitations of older typewriters, but everyone's already learned to type using the QWERTY layout, and it's not worth re-learning a more efficient layout. And if the rest of the world knows how to type using QWERTY, who's going to mass-produce a keyboard with a faster layout?

So could someone write a simple software utility that re-maps the QWERTY keyboard to a faster layout? Those learning to type for the first time or those willing to re-learn could switch to the new layout using the software, while those married to QWERTY would not have to use the re-mapping. Different layouts could be made available for different languages. One of those thin "rubber" keyboard covers could be used to convert the letters that appear on the keys.

Speech-recognition software will soon make this moot, but otherwise, as people learned to type with an efficient layout, QWERTY would eventually be eliminated.

beauxeault, Jul 23 2000

(?) Typing Errors http://www.reason.com/9606/Fe.QWERTY.html
Long article in libertarian "Reason" magazine debunking various aspects of QWERTY vs Dvorak. [jutta, Jul 23 2000]

The Fable of the Keys http://wwwpub.utdal...liebowit/keys1.html
A predecessor of the Reason article, from one of the same authors. [jutta, Jul 23 2000]

Introducing the Dvorak Keyboard http://www.mwbrooks.com/dvorak/
Marcus Brooks's excellent introduction, discussion, list of links, and response to both debunking articles above. [jutta, Jul 23 2000]

(?) The Dvorak Keyboard http://www.cse.ogi.edu/~dylan/dvorak/
Another fine, complete Dvorak resource from Dylan McNamee. [jutta, Jul 23 2000]

(?) HoloKeyboard http://halfbakery.com/idea/HoloKeyboard
Don't like your current keyboard? Project a different one. [centauri, Jul 23 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

(?) LCD switch http://www.digikey....&Keywords=D880H3CRG
This was a rectangular pushbutton with a little LCD built into its face. [reece, Jul 23 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       This already exists, at least for Linux (I've managed to accidentally set my keyboard to AZERTY a couple of times via apt).
bookworm, Jul 23 2000

       And for those of us who don't touchtype? I use a modified hunt and peck I call 'Search and Destroy'...I use five fingers on my left hand and two on my right <which is strange...I'm right handed>, and I have a hard time switching between different QWERTY keyboards, let alone one with a yiffed-up layout...Yes, I could learn the new one, but why? It wouldn't save me anything and I'd lose my 120wpm typing speed for years.
StarChaser, Jul 23 2000

       Starchaser, the whole point of doing it with software rather than the keyboard itself is that you (and I for that matter) would be able to continue to use what we've learned as long as we like by not using the software. But those who haven't already invested in QWERTY or are willing to switch would be able to make advances without foisting a new standard upon us dinosaurs. Aside from pending changes from speech recognition, QWERTY would only die with the generation that currently knows and loves it.
beauxeault, Jul 23 2000

       I remember writing one myself, a long time ago, and then pulling the keys off the keyboard and replacing them in the new Dvorak position. It's amazing what a mess it made of the keyboard - all the keytops are shaped for their qwerty position, and when moved around they look (and feel) terribly uneven.
Lemon, Jul 24 2000

       Back in the late 1930's, a man named D. L. Shelton invented a keyboard which he called Syllographic. Essentially each keypress generated a syllable. You pressed up to four keys simultaneously using the right 4 fingers, both thumbs and left 4 fingers.   

       He developed the idea as an enhancement of the court reporter machine. Due to the style of that device, no two court reporters produce the same result, a bit like shorthand. He wanted a machine that would go directly to printed text as fast as people talk.   

       His original version was mechanical. In the '50s he built a transisterized version. When I worked with him in the early '80s, I looked at converting it to a microprocessor based version. Unfortunately, Mr. Shelton died before I finished the project.   

       He consistently was able to type over 200 words per minute. I believe his record was 280 or so words per minute on something he routinely typed.   

       He did an analysis of all the 800,000 words in the unabridged Webster dictionary. The only word he could find that had to be typed with individual characters was 'yacht'. The word simply doesn't follow the rules of syllabitic languages.   

       I'm pretty sure any patents on this keyboard are expired. But I have always felt that it merited more attention.
cfly, Jul 24 2000

       Thanks, egnor, I realize it now. I had looked at the first two links and not found any utilities, but in the third and fourth, as you say, are links to just what I described. So this one is fully, even incredibly baked. Once the annotations die down, I'll probably delete this one.
beauxeault, Jul 24 2000

       No... Wait!! Don't delete the idea.   

       The un-baked portion of the idea is the re-mappable key tops. 'degroof' had an excellent idea with the LCD's in the key tops. You could use this for a variety of special purposes:   

       - Mapped function keys (Have you ever pasted little-teeny bits of paper to your function keys?)   

       - Foreign languages such as Hebrew   

       - Quick-type algorithms (as discussed)
eagle, Jul 24 2000

       Whack-a-mole! TypeoMon!   

       Beauxeault: I misunderstood, I guess...Would be a pain to replace all the keycaps correctly, though...like Lemon said, they're shaped for their positions...LCD's would be a neat idea, but how well would they take a repeated and continuous beating? I have a fairly heavy hand at typing <I started on a manual typewriter I found on the curb as a kid, a couple of the keys were broken...> and have worn out two keyboards...
StarChaser, Jul 25 2000

       Baked. Almost every OS in existance (if not every OS in common usage) has the ability to remap what characters diffierent keyboard scancodes generate.
amadeus, Jul 25 2000

       Half baked. Half of it was 'change the keyboard through software', half was 'change the physical keyboard'...
StarChaser, Aug 13 2000

       Under MS Windows, you don't need any third-party utilities to use a DVORAK layout... just use the Keyboard icon in the Control Panel. On my Win2K machine, you hit "Add" on the Input Locales tab; I believe it's slightly different in other versions. You can even use a taskbar indicator to switch back and forth between layouts on the fly.
masonmark, Jul 28 2002

       [mason] is right. just make stickers and you're set.
watermelancholy, Jul 28 2002

       i like the concept but i wouldnt be able to switch then go on a computer somewhere else and type well
joshkouri, Mar 12 2003


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