A recent IBM patent, entitled Morphing Touchscreen Keyboard Interface, seems to be pointing to an on-screen keyboard to match a user’s hand anatomy. No matter how enjoyable a user’s experience is when working on an iPad or other similar touchscreen tablet, when it comes to serious writing or note taking, most of us prefer a laptop or a notebook.
It seems that this is what IBM is aiming to change, by patenting a virtual keyboard that changes according to the user’s finger anatomy. By changing the position of the keys, their sizes and the overall layout, the act of writing could become easier, faster, more comfortable and would generate less mistakes.
How would it work? The engineers from IBM explain it in the filed US patent application: an initial calibration stage requires the user to go through a set of exercises; the system then senses such variables like “finger skin touch area, finger size data and finger position” and sets response time and anatomical algorithms. After the information is gathered and processed, the virtual keys are resized, reshaped and repositioned, thus changing the design and layout of the virtual keyboard. Some buttons may be higher/lower or bigger/smaller than others.
This technology sure seems to take the touchscreen writing to a whole new level. To be honest, I am not quite a touchsreen devotee, because it lacks the physical feedback and sometimes it gets too clumsy to write. Maybe this technological improvement will provide the means necessary for a more compelling touch typing experience.