While we all know that virtual keyboards will never replace physical keyboards anytime soon when it comes to speed and accuracy – engineers are constantly trying to make things better. The folks over at IBM recently filed a patent application for a new technology they’ve developed that is said to improve how virtual keyboards on touchscreens work.
The patent application describes a virtual keyboard that has keys adapt to the user that is using it. The position and size of the keys will depend on the anatomy of the keyboard user. This way, it’s supposed to feel more natural to use, which therefore increases speed and accuracy. Users will customize a keyboard in the initial calibration stage by running some exercises to determine where the keys will be placed and the size of the keys. This will allow the virtual keyboard to have some fatter keys, while some keys will be higher than others and so on.
It sounds like a great idea – having a different keyboard to suit a different user, but in my opinion it’s not going to be a dramatic improvement over regular touchscreen keyboards. The biggest problem that I have with touchscreen keyboards is the inability to rest your fingers on keys – this allows you to know where your hands are without having to look (especially when you’re thinking about what to write next), which improves speed and accuracy. But maybe all this could change in the future. What are your thoughts on virtual keyboards vs. physical ones?