This page contains a chorded keyboard experiment for touchscreen mobile devices.
If you are viewing this on a tablet (Android or iPad), put it in landscape mode and try it out yourself below. If you are not on a touchscreen device, poke around, but please realize that you need multiple fingers to use this interface. :)
Simply tap in the input box to bring up the five-finger chorded keyboard!
What is your name?
Screen-based keyboards today are quite slow and clumsy because key space is limited, there's no passive tactile feedback, and the user interface occludes much of the display. Inspired by Doug Engelbart's chorded keyboard, we set out to mimic the stationary one-handed input device on a touch-screen.
Note that you can bring up the chorded keyboard at any time by placing all five fingers on the screen. When bringing up the keyboard this way, the keys will automatically center on your fingers. You can also hide the keyboard by taping one finger elsewhere on the page when you're done.
Tell us something interesting (with one hand)...
What about typing in a box that's way over on the right side of the screen? Hooray for being able to move the keyboard (although it's certainly a bit awkward) by pressing all five fingers and dragging!
What's your email address?
Oh no — there's no "@" symbol! If you haven't realized it yet, the keyboard is focused only on the alphabet. Punctuation, navigation, and modifiers are nowhere to be found. But since we have two hands, those are exactly the kind of things that should be integrated in the left hand keyboard.
We haven't built out the left hand yet, but you can imagine that holding a chord on the left hand can modify the keys available on the right hand. For example, holding down the left thumb could be similar to shift (allowing capital letters), or holding down the left thumb and first finger could allow for number entry.
Here's a recap of why we think this little keyboard is so exciting:
One handed use.
Bring it up anywhere by putting down all 5 fingers.
large hit area per key (since there are only 5 keys to press) allows for blind/touch-typing operation.
Contextual feedback to make learning easier (possible letters are shown at each level).
Drag anywhere by pressing all 5 fingers down and moving your hand.
Cancel a mid-phase chorded keypress by pressing all 5 fingers.
Issuing keypress on touch-up allows users to type at any speed.
Here's a brief overview video of the keyboard in action that you can watch if you're not on a touchscreen device.