Touch-Screen Typing

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by SBW06660, Feb 2, 2011.

  1. SBW06660

    SBW06660 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    So, this question has been nagging me at the back of my mind for awhile now, and what with the ubiquity of touch screens these days i thought i should comment on it.

    It seems to me that a major problem with touch screens on tablets, and other portable devices, is the soft keyboard. on a regular pc or laptop we have the basic qwerty keyboard that we all grew up using. But with soft keyboards on touch screens you can only touch one key at a time, there is no definition/feel to the different keys. How can we every have true typing on a touchscreen keyboard if every time we get ready to type (like we do on regular keyboards, by laying all 10 fingers down on the board and only pressing down when we need to select that letter) we end up pressing all ten keys at once or worse the touch screen doesn't understand what we are trying to do.

    In essence the only solution i can think of on today's touchscreens is to hold your fingers slightly off the screen and just touch it when you need the letter, but in this case you lose all spatial feel of where your fingers are in relation to each button, is "hen-pecking" or some sort of swype typing the only answer?

    If you have an answer to my question, I would be glad to hear it, for this is a major reason i haven't gotten a tablet myself yet.
     
  2. leaftye

    leaftye Old timer Super Moderator

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    Tactile screens are in the works, but I think its potential is limited. I think that just like on a phone, you have to change the way you type. Either you use a finger or two, or thumbs, or you use something like Swype or SlideIt. If you want to stick with touch typing, Comfort Software has a bunch of different keyboard patterns. I haven't tried any of these, but SlideIt is supposed to be available soon, and I'd really like to try it out.
     
  3. DigiMarco

    DigiMarco Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Check out this typing sample I did on Windows 7's on-screen keyboard, fully stretched to the screen width. The keys almost end up the same size as a physical keyboard, but it just -feels- different. You're totally right: one's spatial abilities kick in for nasty side effects.

    First, my attempt on the on-screen keyboard:
    Second, my corrected excerpt, as it should have been typed:
    A couple things I forgot:

    1. Touch screens on Windows laptops are mostly two-point capacative touch screens, i.e. you can only have two fingers at a time on the screen, and your fingerprint must be flat. This becomes a problem because, A.) When you have -three- fingers on the screen at once, as one often has on a keyboard, Windows will just ignore the touches. B.) Organic typing does not take place totally on flat fingerprints, but keys are often reached using the fingernails. Capacitive screens don't pick that up at all.

    2. You have to -look- at the keyboard until your muscle memory catches up. On most capacitive touch screens, the viewing angle is really bad. The screen will look dark.

    3. Better hardware solves many of these problems. I.e. It's easier to type on iPad because, A.) iPad supports 5 touch points at once, which is more than enough for typing. B.) iPad has great, bright viewing angles. Looking at the keyboard is not a problem.

    4. Windows Phone 7 uses a variant of predictive text when typing. E.g. If you're typing the word "carose" and you press right between the K and L keys, the keyboard will bias more towards L. For touch screen keyboards to compensate for the lack of spatial ability, technologies like this can be used.

    However, it still doesn't solve the problem that organic typing relies on the fingernails as much as flat fingerprints. Plus, the key size is still not the same. Overall, you can certainly retrain your muscle memory to type on-screen, but it'll take way too long to be worth it, IMO, until they get these improvements in. Insurance: I am not a doctor :)
     
  4. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    And you haven't even mentioned what suddenly mashing your fingertips against a flat surface will do to comfort...sounds like a recipe for RSI.

    There's a reason I still prefer physical keyboards when I need a keyboard. Good ones, at that, with IBM buckling springs or Cherry MX switches.
     
  5. jnjroach

    jnjroach Technology Strategist Super Moderator

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    On the Libretto W10x series, Toshiba as heptatic feedback for the on-screen keyboard, I believe Viliv does the same. The Libretto has the best onboard keyboard experience I've used. On my HP Slate 500 I installed Comfort Keys Onboard Keyboard Pro, it has "sound" feedback and supports Multitouch.

    I wish I could isolate the Toshiba Keyboard programs but they are actually tied into the hardware, i.e. I know the processes (exe's) but the haven't worked correctly on any other device.
     
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