The Qwirky keyboard

The Qwirky keyboard has the letters t and f switched to give users a higher accuracy and WPM rate.


Image of a mobile keyboard
Image of a keyboard
Another image of a keyboard

Introduction

The Qwerty keyboard was meant for us to type slower, and even though the typewriter is not widely used anymore, we are still stuck with the Qwerty keyboard. Alternatives haven't been too successful either. Keyboards with a high learning curve are unappealing to the user.

The question then becomes: how do we create a faster keyboard without wandering too far from the norm?

My teammates and I conducted a longitual study to see if changing the placement of two keys on the mobile Qwerty keyboard would result in a faster typing experience on the mobile keyboard. We decided to implement the changes on a soft keyboard because hard keyboards have been around longer than soft keyboard. We figured that it would be easier for users to learn this new change because soft keyboards are still somewhat new. Our goal was to compare the performance differences between Qwirky and Qwerty on learning curve and the words-per-minute.

Design

We switched the letters t and f because th is the most common pair of letters in the English language. (This is called a digraph ). If you look at your keyboards, you'll see that right now, our keyboard is laid out as FGH. However, when we switch the spots of t and h , t will be closer to h. We decided to leave a key between t and h for better accuracy on the mobile keyboard. We didn't want fingers jamming into each other.

Image of the Qwirky keyboard

Methodology

We recruited 14 participants to be a part of our study. Each participant completed 7 sessions, for one session per day. Participants had to type a total of 28 phrases. The first 14 phrases were typed either with the Qwirky or Qwerty keyboard, depending on which group the participants were assigned to, and the other 14 were typed with the other assigned keyboard. There was a 1 - 2 minute break after the 14th phrase and before the 15th phrase.

Results

Users initially had an average of 18 words per minute (WPM) and an accuracy rate of 82%, this then peaked at 32 WPM and 91% accuracy on or before the fifth session. However, participants experienced a decline for both categories after the fifth session, making the data inconclusive and necessitating further study

Final thoughts

We failed to reject the null hypothesis. The Qwirky is less efficient and accurate when compared to Qwerty. Further experiments (ideally with more sessions) and a better keyboard layout are necessary to improve the study.

For the complete paper and study on our Qwirky keyboard, please click here.