One thing that I always find fascinating is how an object, or a way of thinking, was modeled 25, 50 or 100 years ago, and how we keep going on with the same design without trying to think if it’s actually the right one, or to challenge our way of thinking with a different one. Keyboards are one of those things. We all know the origin of the QWERTY layout, why the keyboard has this shape, and so on (the wikipedia page is a good read). Let’s take a look at this tweet from Technomancy (who, for the the record, also has some interesting keyboard ideas :)
I wonder how long it'll be before we can look back and laugh at the idea of poking a QWERTY soft-keyboard on a touch screen. Hope it's soon.— Phil Hagelberg (@technomancy) January 14, 2013
That’s exactly what I’m talking about: we keep reproducing the same design without questioning it’s benefits (I’ve no doubt that people at Apple and Google have tried a lot of alternatives, an they probably decided to stick to this one because it’s the most common and people are used to it. Still, it doesn’t mean we have to stick with it). But even for physical keyboard, we keep the same design: a large space key (why ?!), a capslock key (who need that one, even remapped to “control” I feel like it’s a bad place to physically put a key on the keyboard), large enter/shift keys, etc.
I’m not a keyboard nerd. But sometimes I take a look at some new and strange models, sometimes I try one of them, and I might even buy one, like the TypeMatrix (that one I really liked).
So, when Jesse announced that he was working on a keyboard, I got really excited. His layout is very interesting (it seems to be inspired by the kinesis), and the shape is also innovative. I also remember reading that he suffers from RSI, which mean it’s something he will be careful bout. Take a look at the mapping: there’s only 52 keys, control/shift/alt are repeated, but with this shape it makes sense, since they’re dedicated to one half of the keyboard.
I really hope he will be able to build this keyboard and manage to manufacture it (maybe a kickstarter project ?). I’ll definitely be in line to get one.