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Research & Discussion: Highest Bandwidth Input Device: Keyboards

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I've read most of the threads related to increasing typing speed, which include many opinions and sound arguments on this topic. I want to make a new thread to consolidate and potentially find a greater degree of certainty.

Some things we can probably agree on to frame the importance & inspiration:
1) Keyboards are the highest bandwidth input device
2) Bandwidth is limited by your typing speed, for one.
3) Your typing speed is limited by factors we'll discuss here:

A) Ergonomics need to be great, but let's skip that preference related discussion to focus in. (I'm partial to the Kinesis design.)
B) The nervous system needs to know when to stop pushing/pressing & not over-do or under-do it
C) The tactile bump is only a hindrance if one can't get used to linear switches. The bump increases joint impact.
D) Typical 4mm travel keys are too deep to optimize for typing speed for anyone.
E) Butterfly switch-like travel are too shallow to optimize for speed - especially because you're bottoming out, which violates the above principles (worse than tactile bump).
F) Something less than ~3.4mm total travel seems ideal.
G) Spacer rings seem ideal: reduced stress from bottoming out, reduced travel.
H) Can we get used to very light linear switches to optimize speed? Maybe.
I) Can we get used to heavier linear switches to better use our entire muscular coordination without "holding back"? Maybe.
J) Should we use different springs (heaviness) for different fingers (at least thumbs)? It seems so.

That's what I have for now... Please state your full argumentation if you're going to enter this discussion/debate :)
Thanks - have a splendid & productive day!

P.S. Perhaps this should be in the keyboard forum and not ergonomics forum... Can we cross-post? Anyway, I'm trying to differentiate between "top speed we can type" versus "top speed the body will end up typing due to constraints, body protecting itself against RSI, etc..."

Just a fun thought - it really helps to nail down the wording. How are you defining typing speed and/or bandwidth? Is that number of distinct/meaningful mechanical actions you can input as user or number of words the device can output or something else? It sounds like the discussion is focused primarily on what we think of as traditional key-per-stroke keyboards; what about stenographer or chorded keyboards? The distribution of WPM output from device is markedly different from that of a traditional keyboard.

None of that addresses the spirit of your discussion, so apologies if this was a distraction :) . To contribute to the main topic, I think optimizing for maximum biological/mechanical key activation frequency/speed may still be flawed. We should meaningfully expect operator mistake, so things like the tactile bump can theoretically help your expected correct WPM output. Travel distance discussion can be frame in the same way.

Everyone mentions stenographer/chorded keyboards, but I've been all over the world and seen hundreds of workstations... Never seen one - and never heard of one used for a full fledged computer. So if we're nailing down "BCI" (brain computer interfaces), then stenographer/chorded keyboards would be insufficient (not theoretically but let's say "for now").

I don't really want to distract with the BCI concept; it was just meant to be inspiring to keyboard enthusiasts - because I believe it to be a self evident fact that keyboards are the quickest way to communicate with a computer by far (and using your eyes the quickest way for it to communicate back with us).

I figured this would be more popular, but perhaps I was too verbose - or this is too technical.

@twohands - yes, things that reduce operator mistakes are certainly under consideration here. But I don't see how tactile bump necessarily qualifies. I don't think there is evidence that we are backing off quick enough after we feel the bump. It is more like encouragement to not push so hard. And same with the audio aspect of the tactile bump: we are not stopping a key press because our brain hears the tactile bump and tells the hand to stop pushing. I suppose that isn't self evident to many and needs to be taken into account when thinking about optimizing this biology-technology interface. We should be careful in thinking we know: look at the tactile phones vs the new haptic phones - I could type way faster on an old n900 tactile keyboard than any modern haptic phone. Even after years of experience on a haptic touch phone I can't touch type on it like I could on the n900's tactile keyboard.

Damn I figured this would be more popular; maybe I should break it down into pieces and post it on r/machanicalkeyboards or something. Seems like enthusiasts don't think there is an objective truth to this, but there must be if people are having similar typing styles. The way the human hand interacts with a device has clear physical limits - especially when hand motion has specific limits.

The bandwidth of the computer interface HW itself (e.g. keyboard) is not what is limiting us. We are limited by the speed of our thinking. That is the reason people mostly do not care about typing speed. It is not where the choke point is.


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