Futuristic Proinnsias

Futuristic Proinnsias

Single-button Keyboard

Ever since I learnt typing forty five years ago, I had in mind that there must be a better way than the QWERTY keyboard. Then along came computers, and the geniuses would soon come up with something better! They did not.

So, let me present to you the Single-Key Keyboard, or, rather, the Single-Key Input Method, for it's not really a keyboard at all. This fits on a shirt-button and can effortlessy input all possible values to a computer with no more than a slight finger-movement.

Useful for wrist-watch and eye-glass computers and other small devices, but also useful with large machines. But take your wrist-strap computer. How do you input values? Whatever other input device you have, you can't deny that having an easy-to-use, shirt-button sized device that you caress with a finger-tip to input values, would be just perfect!

This input method is based on two important principles: Finger-intelligence and Clustering, (a feature of human intelligence known to Cognitive Science), which I hope to elaborate in a future post.

Finger-intelligence is a form of Muscular Intelligence. An example of how muscular intelligence is used is the range of stick-ball games. As a boy growing up in Dublin, I learned to play hurling, golf, tennis, table-tennis, rounders and badminton, as well, of course, as ball games played without sticks.

In golf, of course, we strike a ball with a stick as it sits on the ground, and, depending on our degree of skill, can send it a considerable distance and in a highly determined direction. In hurling, with a stick of a different size and shape, we can strike the ball, not only on the ground, but as it flies through the air, and there are a hundred different ways of bearing on the ball with the stick. Tennis introduces a whole range of different strikes, as do the other games mentioned. In all, there are thousands of distinct movements we engage to strike the ball.

The memory of how all of these movements are accomplished is contained, not in our little head, but in the muscles of our limbs and bodies. Nor is our capacity for such skills easily satiated, for, the more skills we already have, the easier it seems to be to add new ones. The range of movements that can be learned and remembered is enormous, possibly unlimited. In any of these sports, I could have received lessons from a professional. In this case I would learn better ways to hold and swing the stick, and these new ways would be added to my collection and give me no greater sense of being overburdened by the amount my poor muscles have to remember!

In typing, on a QWERTY typewriter, finger-intelligence is used. A touch-typist can type at speed without looking at her fingers, but can entrust the trained finger to find the required character. However, QWERTY was not designed to optimise the use of finger-intelligence, as my Input Method is.

Perhaps a shirt-button might appear to be too small an area to contain a keyboard? The following exercise will dispel that notion:

Touch a finger-nail with a finger-tip of your other hand. Move the finger-tip around the periphery of the finger-nail. No need to look, now, at what you are doing. As you move the finger-tip around, stop at any point. Does your finger-tip know where it is in relation to the finger-nail? Yes it does, and there are many points at which it could pause. Now, run the finger-tip across the finger-nail. Are there any ridges and ruts on your finger-nail? Can your finger-tip feel them? Yes, it can. Run the finger-tip up and down a ridge and then up and down a rut.

By this time you will have noticed that, a far as your finger-tip is concerned the finger-nail is an extensive area: as extensive as a playing field to a bouncy boy.

My invention makes use of this extensive field and the intelligence of a finger to exploit it. QWERTY goes out the window and a completely new, revolutionary, way of organising values is brought into use. Just ask.

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