Most companies that are exploring back-typing use sensors very similar to what is found in modern touch screens. The caveat is that without a physical tactile feedback, it is very hard to get your fingers in the right spot, leading to typos and low productivity. AlphaUI is going for a physical keyboard design that focuses on minimal finger movement. On the device itself, the user has a visual feedback in the form of a virtual keyboard. As you can see, the keyboard’s layout has been optimized for the particular finger positioning, and character placements will be slightly different for each language – based on the most used characters.
This is the visual feedback on Android (FR keyboard)
It might look difficult, but the learning curve wasn’t as steep as one might think. After about a minute of playing with it, I was able to type at a moderate speed. It’s hard to tell what kind of peak typing rate one can reach without trying it for a week, but the experiment is very interesting. AlphaUI is an IP-company, so it will license its design rather than commercialize devices. They are touring the Bay Area to find partners that could embed their designs in products. The prototype shown here uses an Archos 5 as a base platform.
Founders Patrice Jolly and Celine Degreef