Features common to all TouchStream
For our US Qwerty,
Layouts, most keys are about the same size (19mm X 19mm) as
those on a full-sized mechanical keyboard. We've made a few
re-arrangements of peripheral keys like tilde (~),
BackSpace, Delete, and Enter to make them
easier to reach within the split design. We've also lessened the
slant of key columns, since when typing quickly on a smooth surface,
your fingers naturally flex in straight, not slanted columns. The
left and right Hand icon keys double as Windows keys
on PCs, Apple keys on Macs, and Meta keys on Unix
Workstations. On a Mac, Alt is equivalent to Option.
Though Shift and Ctrl keys are provided at their
normal locations, most people will prefer our Shift and
chords, which are activated by holding 4 fingertips on home
Raised dots (like Braille dots) at the center of each
home row key ( A S D F BackSpace Space J K L ; ) provide the only
texture on our typing surfaces. These dots help ten-finger touch
typists find and remain centered on home row.
It is not necessary to strike the exact center
of each key. If you touch in between keys, a built-in English
spelling model guesses which key you intend by finding a sensible
spelling. This greatly assists accuracy so long as your hands remain
roughly aligned with home row. You can also enter passwords and
filenames without trouble because the spelling model is not invoked
when you do strike near the center of keys and with an even
units can be reconfigured electronically to behave as QWERTY or
DVORAK keyboards. However, the symbols printed on the surface cover
can not be changed. When viewing the pictures below, remember that
the LP surface halves will be split
and angled by 10 degrees so key columns that look slanted below
will actually align vertically with finger travel. Click on the
sample images for larger full-scale views that you can print, cut
and try on your desk. Background color of actual product is
burgundy, not purple.
The QWERTY letter arrangement appeared on the first
typewriters in the 1870's, and hasn't changed since. Unfortunately
it is far from optimal, with more typing done on the top row than
home row, and awkward hops between top and bottom rows required for
many common English words.
The FingerWorks QWERTY layout has optimized key column
angles for touch typing on ZeroForce surfaces. Why? Because without
key edges, straight flexion & extension are simpler, quicker
motions for your fingers.
The QWERTY layout also includes an embedded
punctuation pad on the right half. The punctuation pad lets
programmers type frequently-needed punctuation symbols without
inaccurate pinky reaches. The embedded punctuation symbols are
active while the AltGr modifier chord is held by the left hand, just
like top row punctuation symbols are active when the Shift modifier
chord is held.
LP Dvorak Keyboard Layout
The DVORAK key layout was carefully designed by August Dvorak in
the 1930's and became an ANSI standard in 1982. All vowels are
placed on the left hand home row keys, and the most common
consonants ('D','H','T','N','S') lie on the right hand's home row.
This way most (70%) typing is done within home row, and finger hops
between upper and lower rows of keys are minimized.
This is a stark contrast to QWERTY, which requires finger hops
for common letter sequences like 'EC','EX','CR','CT','CE','BR','BE',
and 'UN'. (Compare finger travel to type 'EXCRUCIATING' on QWERTY
versus on the DVORAK layout above).
Typing gurus and academics have long debated how much faster
DVORAK is than QWERTY. While DVORAK appears to increase mechanical
keyboard speeds only 5-10%, one thing is clear: it greatly (90%)
reduces finger motion and travel off home row! This can be very
helpful for people whose hand or wrist injuries make repeated finger
stretches painful. By eliminating sources of hand drift, DVORAK
offers performance advantages that are even more important for
zero-force surface typing than for mechanical keyboards.
What's the catch? If you've already learned touch typing on
QWERTY, retraining your brain to type quickly on DVORAK keyboards
could take 3 to 6 slow, frustrating weeks. All alphabetic and
punctuation keys except 'A' and 'M' move to new positions! The least
frequently used keys (e.g. Z X [ ]) and keys that move to the
opposite hand seem to take longest to relearn.
FingerWorks Resellers that stock or specialize in Dvorak
Links to some interesting Dvorak enthusiast sites:
Qwerak Experimental Layout
Qwerak is an experimental, hybrid layout that
FingerWorks is optimizing specifically for surface typing. Because
Qwerak is still experimental, you cannot order a TouchStream with
Qwerak printed covers. However, if you think learning
Dvorak is tame and like the idea of rewiring your brain with
something even more eccentric, order a Dvorak and give Qwerak a try
it electronically. Feel free to make your own tweaks to the key
placements in the MyGesture
Editor's layout editor.
As you can see from the image above (click
for full-size printable), the right half especially is very
similar to Dvorak, with a few Qwerty influences on peripheral keys.
Here is how Qwerak's surface-typing optimizations differ slightly
from Dvorak's objectives for mechanical keyboards:
- Minimize frequency of corner reaches by index and pinky
fingers, e.g. move L from pinky to middle finger and Y from index
to ring finger.
- Slightly decrease frequency of hand alternation (e.g.
swap S and O) where within-hand rolls across adjacent surface keys
can be less tricky than inter-hand alternation timing.
- Least-frequently-used keys like Z Q / " take longest to
relearn because you practice them less often. Qwerak leaves these
in same place as Qwerty to cut retraining time a bit.
Layouts are also available.