KALQ is the new QWERTY

KALQ is a keyboard layout designed to replace QWERTY for thumb typing on a tablet. The creators of KALQ say that eight hours of use will train you to be able to enter text faster than you would be able to with a QWERTY layout. Android users can install it for free. Leo Kent of Humans Invent has more.


    1. As a Dvorak user, I’ve been waiting for something like this. Here’s hoping it comes to iOS relatively soon.

      1.  How well does that work for you when you have to use someone else’s keyboard?

        1. It takes me only a few minutes to adjust to QWERTY. If I’ll be on a computer for longer than about ten minutes, I’ll switch it to Dvorak and try desperately not to look at the keys.

          1. If there were a less Eurocentric version of the Esperanto idea, I’d totally learn it. Not because it’d be the language of tomorrow, but A) because it sounds fun and B) because it sounds hella useful to know a little bit of a lot of languages.

          2. tré: Lojban is a candidate for a less Eurocentric international auxiliary language; one of its design goals was to be culturally neutral—the grammar is based on predicate logic and the vocabulary is based on Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic.

          3. kinscore: I’d go for two grammatical codes, fully non-recursive and fully recursive. Non-recursive grammar codes for a sense of community and a shared body, also in the sense of code, recursive grammar codes for a sense of individuality. These together give a proper sense of objectivity and subjectivity. Both non-recursive and recursive grammar and lexis can express the concept of infinity. The combination of the two fixes absolutely the number (and increases this number quite significantly) of signifiers and signifieds (denotations) while freeing the relationship between any one signifier and signified to produce an infinite number of possible codes determined by the relationship between sender and addressee of the message and making metaphor  a fully active means of producing new meanings for all speakers.
            The Western mind results from the loss of any sense of the possibility of non-recursive codes (the death of Christ) while linguistic meaning is only guaranteed by the possibility and ultimate necessity of both non-recursive and recursive codes.
            Ultimately, it would seem, the mind has evolutionary tool making functions in the sense that we have to create the conditions in which we can evolve (although this is all genetically determined) before that evolution can take place. The language you describe would suit tool making functions but would fail philosophically to account for the hopes of most of humanity.
            Natural human language finally is a product of the brain and not the mind.

          4. “the vocabulary is based on Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic.”

            Four of those six languages are still Indo-European. Does Lojban build in
            as many cultural assumptions, especially gender assumptions, as some
            other ‘universal’ languages?

          5. RE “eurocentric”: while many (most?) European countries that had radio news in Esperanto discontinued them (for obvious reasons), China’s public broadcaster still has them.

            If you want an artificial language that anyone who knows both romance (French, Spanish…) and Germanic languages (English, German…) can read more or less fluently, try Interlingua. Fascinating (if useless) idea.

        2. As another Dvorak user, I’ll cite my own experience. I revert to hunt and peck at the library when checking the card catalogue or something, but every Windows and Mac machine has a fairly easily accessed toggle that will switch the machine right over to Dvorak if I’m going to be using it for a while, so it works just fine. 

          I’ll also note that I moved to Dvorak because I’m a professional writer and was getting hand cramps from sitting typing all day. It took a bit of getting used to–a couple weeks and I was exceeding my previous wpm–but the hand cramps soon disappeared. 

          1. I’ll second that.  I am not a professional writer, but I do use my hands a lot on the job and the Dvorak keyboard was just what the doctor ordered.

          2. Yup. Switched between my first and second semester of college, and it was a world of difference come finals time.

      2. Keep hoping.  You know that device is designed for “the common folk” (i.e. those that can’t read prompts and use their brain for once) and as such have almost no options.

        Users of that platform waited 4 years for multitasking, so a Dvorak keyboard should be lurking around in, oh, 30 years?

  1. I’ll still guarantee nobody can type as fast as they can talk. But it won’t matter, because people don’t want to talk any more.  
    I’ll further guarantee there will still be ridiculous autocorrects; that if you’re having a text conversation you’ll never get a sentence out without having to back up and re-enter it on account of having just received information that makes your text irrelevant.  
    I will never understand texting. Imagine your phone ringing every time somebody wanted to express a thought to you. You’d throw your phone away right quick, wouldn’t you? But we react like we’ve hit the jackpot whenever a text message comes in.  
    Humans. I’ll never understand them. Even being one doesn’t seem to help.

    1. I’m pretty keen on my digital watch.

      Truth be told, nobody said you had to actually read any text messages as they come in.  Like phone calls and e-mail, I get to them when I get to them.

      1. I may be amazingly primitive, but I still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

    2. Let’s have a look at Ken’s assertion. To finally reach something that deserves outrage he makes us all slaves of our texting friends. A step too far for credibility and so his point fails. He could have left it as a mild rebuke and it would have been fine, but no . . . 

    3. Hm, if only there was a technology that allowed text to be written in real time at the rate of human speech…accurately enough that it became the only legally respected way to transcribe, say, court proceedings…and perhaps at some point thousands of dollars would need to be raised to pay for producing a public copy of a controversial–oh hey, machine stenography!
      A slightly different UI from the conventional typewriter, of course, but I highly recommend learning it to anyone who read parent’s “nobody can type as fast as they can talk” as a challenge.

      —Written using Plover at 173 WPM

        1. Not sure what you mean: the stenotype is a per-syllable chorded keyboard, not a text-to-speech processor.

          1.  What, you’ve got to touch keys with actual fingers?! Where’s my Star Trek voice activated computer? Its the 21st Century for Rodenberry’s sake!

    4. If I call someone it takes at least 5-15 minutes, no matter what it is that I want to talk about. Silly humans, we don’t limit our conversations to what’s absolutely necessary.

      Texting takes me a minute or two. And I don’t have to interrupt anyone.

  2. Did you see the people controlling a Helicopter with their thoughts? The next step is to take talking, writing or typing out of the equation. 
    I want to think my words to a computer
    Say that you have the ability to translate your thoughts into words that go right to the computer One thing that you won’t have is having to create words using the individual letters that make up word. 

    So I think. Mississippi and BOOM it shows up on the screen. If I want to type it I have to think M i s s i s s i p p i to make it appear. 

    We now have showed that brainscans can detect a rough visual shape from our “minds eye” as we get more subtle imaging tools I can imagine that if you train the imager to recognize the words in your head it can recreate them.

    So you scan my mind thinking the word Mississippi and story it in a database of “this is what Mississippi looks like in the electrical patterns” then the next time you are think the word the correlation looks at your brain goes to the database and outputs it. 
    It think that some of the speech recognition software works like this.

    1. I am actually -BOOBS- using a very -HUNGRY- simple prototype -BOING BOING- of a brain -BOOBS- scanner to type -HUNGRY- this reply.

  3. designed to replace QWERTY for thumb typing … train you to be able to enter text faster than you would be able to with a QWERTY layout.

    faster than using your thumbs (only) with a qwerty,  yes. (always felt that technology that leaves appendages immobile was lossy (but then i always had trouble with soccer too))

  4. Of course, it assumes that someone can use a touchscreen without it going haywire, and can type two-handed, and can type two-handed without going out-of-order.

    I’d like to see affordable accessibility tools for those of us who have disabilities, instead of all the tools being for those who don’t, and berating for those who do. (“Your eyes are too sensitive to bright light to use today’s ever-brighter screens? You need to learn braille!” “You can only type with one hand? You need a new ergonomic split keyboard so you can twist your typing hand into new injuries in trying to reach the other side!”  “You can’t afford this? You need to spend more money hiring someone to design a custom computer for my idea of your needs!”)

    1. Yes to this, many times over.  I’ve bitched at length on my own blog about there being no voice commands available on current e-readers.  (My wife has lost most use of her hands, and is starting to have difficulty turning pages in a physical book.)  We don’t need a full-fledged voice-recognition program like Dragon, but is it that impossible to have the capability to recognize a limited set of commands like “Turn Page”, “Go Back”, etc?

      (And before anyone says “Dragon can do that”, as far as I can tell from a fair number of hours searching the Internet, it’s not possible on the Kindle without jailbreaking the device, and seems to not be possible at all on the Nook.  If I’m wrong about that, I’d be fawningly grateful for a link.)

  5. Assuming that I want to spend eight hours training myself on a keyboard to do something I can already do perfectly well on a different keyboard is a mighty big assumption.

  6. If I’m going to spend the time to use a new system, what would be way more useful than this is an ergonomic wireless chording keyboard that straps to one hand, which should allow you to type faster than you’ll ever type on a touchscreen.

  7. Here We Go Again… Yeah, chording, or one of the gestural-scribble systems which reduces words to a smaller and more-distinct set of motions, are the right long-term answers. But they’re also harder to implement, optimize, and market.

    Variant keyboards are a poor solution, but are something anyone can rattle off a half-arsed implementation of and then make grandiose claims for.

    1. And the big advantage of “chording” systems is that they are so different to QWERTY that it’s easy to operate in both, whereas alternative standard keyboard layouts slow you down horribly if you ever have to use qwerty again because your brain/hand triggers are too similar.
      (I still think the Microwriter chording system was fantastic.)

    2. NO!

      There is no one long-term answer. Your long-term answer would leave a future with no accessible options for people like me. I’m scared because I’m already seeing this with the proliferation of touchscreens. My coordination problems are hardly unique, though speaking from my own experience, they leave me unable to use two-handed typing, unable to use chording, with great difficulty with touchpads/touchscreens, unable to use touchpad/touchscreen gestures, with some difficulty holding pencils, with great difficulty using pens, and unable to use those dinky little styli too small to get a slider grip on. I don’t have stats, but these are fairly common disabilities among autistic people.

    3. Speaking of gestural systems, somebody ported Graffiti – from the early Palm handhelds – to Android, and I’ve been using it happily for years. 

      I can easily write one-fingered, and (for me) the advantage is that it’s not positional – I can write without looking at the screen, with no chance of “hitting the wrong keys” like being misaligned on a keyboard.

  8. Not exactly the first QWERTY killer.  I haven’t seen a single successful alternate layout that wasn’t heavily based on QWERTY.

    Everyone seems to think that QWERTY was just mashed together, but it was designed for optimal typing.  Sure, not everything is the same as it was with typewriters, but nothing has provided efficiency benefits to outweigh the retraining.  I would argue that few have even matched QWERTY’s efficiency at all.

    Not to mention things like SWYPE that already bridges the efficiency gap.

    It also seems to lack any support whatsoever for special characters, numbers, or even caps, and any new keyboard layout will have to spend as much time optimizing them as anything else.  One of the main reasons I don’t use my phone’s voice-to-text is because it’s almost impossible to get it to work with proper sentence structure.

    1. Uh, no, it was specifically designed to be sub-optimal, to keep typewriters from jamming.

  9. Yeah, swiping rocks. I have an Xperia X10 I flashed with a Gingerbread ROM from Feralab that’s based on somebody’s stock one, and the swiping keyboard on that is even better than Swype or Touchpal.

    Lately I’ve been thinking I want a touchpad version to plug into my PC, since using a traditional keyboard feels so clunky in comparison. I’d want all the punctuation and special characters to be more accessible though; perhaps dedicated buttons for most of those.

    Also, I’m pretty over typing Alt-248 (on the numpad) every time I want a degree symbol.

  10. In the original post, may I suggest writing “eight hours of use” rather than “eight hour’s use” ?  To whom do the hours belong anyway?

    – sent from my not KALQ keyboard

      1. Agreed.  I was originally going to suggest “hours’ use” in place of “hour’s use” but thought “hours of use” would be simpler (and inarguable).

  11. I suppose that’s making the best of a bad situation but how can people accept the lack of a keyboard that gives tactile feedback? I’d never buy a tablet and it’s embarrassing when people think the one I use for work is mine.

  12. QWERTY works excellently for me; much better than Dvorak….perhaps because I’m a lefty?

  13. Why would I spend time trying to unlearn 25 years of using QWERTY to save myself 0.0004 seconds per message? No thanks, this is just change for the sake of change.

    1. To be fair, it could probably save you something more like four seconds per message, at which rate it’d only take you 7200 messages to make up for the 8 hours’ training.

      But to be even fairer, IMO using things that suck less is worth more than just time.

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