I just got into keyboard design recently and have only been in touch with the theoretical part so far. I had an eye on the key64; i like the concept, although it is lacking room for easy access to special characters of other latin-alphabet languages that I need.
Also, I have a friend who, due to a birth defect, has very limited mobility in his left hand and does all the typing with his right hand, only occasionally using his left hand for otherwise impossible key combinations like Ctrl+Alt+Del, tying a knot into his hands because he is unable to press Ctrl ant Alt with his left hand and therefore needs to reach over.
So I thought I'd get a few friends to chip in for some parts and make him a custom, right handed keyboard.
These are my guide lines:
- All Charachters should have their own keys, exceptions can be made for special characters
- Move frequently used keys like Enter and Backspace are moved to the left to be operated by the index finger
- less frequently used keys like capslock and the "Windows" key are moved to the left
- All frequently used modifiers need to be thumb keys as the thumb can move independently of the fingers. That includes Shift, Alt, Ctrl, Alt Gr and an extra Fn key that is needed to access another layer for numerals and punctuation. Punctuation could also be typed by holding Alt-Gr. Space is also a thumb key. The Fn key can be locked by double-tapping.
- The function keys cannot be embedded, as this would require too many keys pressed at once for the rather common F-key combinations. Possibly, another Alt key needs to be added in case the distance between the Alt-key and the function keys is too far.
- Thumb keys often used together (like Ctrl+Alt and AltGr+Shift) will be placed next to each other to allow pressing them together using the thumb only. Likewise, Shift and Space need to be next to each other because they will commonly be hit in succession.
- Place the Del key to the opposite of the corresponding Backspace key.
- place lettres and commonly used punctuation marks in a block of 6 columns and 5 rows. 6 columns mean you will have more than two rows operated by neither the index finger nor the pinky. 5 rows is about as far as the Fingers can stretch, so you wont need to move your wrist during normal typing.
- Keep the arrow keys and other special keys, including Home, Pgnup, Ins etc. outside of the main key block because it's full and it's less confusing to have them elsewhere.
- I used the one hand layout developed by IBM (mirrored, because I think it was intended for the left hand) and added a few keys to the rows of only 5 keys. These are ,.- and ¨ to type German Umlauts (other characters are also possible). ß will be AltGr+S - this is ok because it has no capital version, therefore never requires Shift. Other keyboard layouts (e.g. optimized for German) will be considered
- Print Screen is moved over to the left to be operated by the left hand in case of rare Sysrq combinations.
- The keyboard will use column staggering, just like the key64. It will be flat so it may be taken along, is not as heavy, looks better and is not as difficult to design.
- It may be combined with a left hand joystick to make gaming more fun. Currently he uses the space bar for walking, the middle mouse button for jumping, he can't strafe, duck or walk backwards.
This is a concept that I designed using a spreadsheet software. I'm no artist, but you should get the idea.