Friday, June 29, 2012

Spotted: optimization of touchscreen keyboards -- still hard to beat qwerty

Familiarity of new layouts may be a bad thing: an uncanny valley for text entry?

Multidimensional pareto optimization of touchscreen keyboards for speed, familiarity and improved spell checking

Mark Dunlop, John Levine

This paper presents a new optimization technique for keyboard layouts based on Pareto front optimization. We used this multifactorial technique to create two new touchscreen phone keyboard layouts based on three design metrics: minimizing finger travel distance in order to maximize text entry speed, a new metric to maximize the quality of spell correction by reducing tap ambiguity, and maximizing familiarity through a similarity function with the standard Qwerty layout. The paper describes the optimization process and resulting layouts for a standard trapezoid shaped keyboard and a more rectangular layout. Fitts' law modelling shows a predicted 11% improvement in entry speed without taking into account the significantly improved error correction potential and the subsequent effect on speed.

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