Jul 28, 2011Science and Technology
Virtual keyboard—Bend it like IBM!

Are you using a virtual keyboard (like the one on your iPad or other touch screen gadgets) instead of a physical keyboard? If yes, were you happier using a physical keyboard since it does not suit the size of your fingers? If yes, then IBM brings for you a technology that could shape your imagination into a customized virtual keyboard!

Recently, the US Patent Office published an IBM patent applicationfile:///E:/odesk/patexia/NISHANT%20BORA/article%207/VIRTUAL%20KEYBOARD/article%207.doc#_ftn1" title="">[1] that presents a touch screen keyboard that will accommodate you. The keyboard will adapt to your anatomy and movements as if it were made for you. The technology reflects the fact that, because fingertip size and fingers' length and range of motion vary from person to person, greater speed and comfort could be achieved and more errors prevented by adapting the keyboard to a user's unique typing motion paths.

The technology involves receiving calibration data at the touch interface, and generating a touch interface display based on the received calibration data. The computer-implemented method can further include receiving use data for each key touch of the touch interface, defining a set of averages over time for finger skin touch area, finger size data and finger position and automatically resizing, reshaping and repositioning at least one key of the touch interface display based on the defined set of averages.

Using this information, the keyboard would then automatically, and in a subtle manner, shift to accommodate your typing style--changing the design and layout of the virtual keyboard. Some buttons may be higher or lower; bigger or smaller than others, as you can see in the figure.

It is even simpler to understand how will can be achieved. Some of the keys are standard size and standard position keys (240), while other keys are adjusted size and adjusted position keys (250). In this embodiment, the "Q" and "W" keys 250 have reduced key width size and both keys have had their positions adjusted to be closer to the row of keys below them. Greater repositioning of keys 250 is contemplated by this invention including a complete re-sequencing of any of the keys in the visual keyboard display configuration 230. In embodiments, the touch interface display 210 also can include a display element that shows the key inputs a user has entered, such as a web browser address bar 260. 


There are, however, many of us who belong to the “old school” of physical keyboards. Professional stenographers may never be able to make best friends with the touch screen gizmos, especially since the former allows you to rest your fingers while you take a break to think during your type-session and also lets you know where your hands are without having to look.


Nonetheless, if there is so much to improve your touch-type experience, then why not give it a shot?


Gena PatentI think this is a brilliant idea, and IBM is ahead of the curve in seeking to obtain a patent on what is certain to become a leading technological tool.
Aug 2, 2011
Abhilasha BoraWould like to see such keypads being launched even though I am quite a physical-keyboard loyalist.
Jul 30, 2011