Author Topic: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?  (Read 4112 times)

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Offline NAMESPACE

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Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« on: Sun, 30 November 2014, 15:42:35 »
Hey everyone - let me do a bit of explaining before I get to the juicy stuff.

My wrists and fingers began giving me trouble a few months back (I'm sure the story has appeared a million times on these forums) and so I ditched my Model M for a kinesis advantage in an attempt to ward off what might have become RSI. I would have purchased a maltron, but I'm too poor. The maltron a big feature the kinesis doesn't; it own uber ergonomic layout which I wanted to use. So I fired up autohotkey and before I knew it I was running malt. Then I discovered that L was in the worst place possible, over the pinky. I attempted to fix the layout with a few small modifications and asked for advice. https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=62065.0 In the end I didn't have the time to generate and test a new layout and opted to hit L with my ring finger or swap it with another letter.

This worked well enough, I was even able to use most of the training course designed by Maltron. But I was annoyed at my slow speeds - you might have converted to colemak or dvorak at some point and can understand what it is like to type like a snail.

But what really bothered me was that in the end, after I had been on Malt for a few years I would never really type that much faster than on QWERTY or any other layout. So I, being a perfectionist, went looking and found a miracle called Plover that seemed to answer all of my problems. Lightening fast speed and better ergonomic than are possible with a normal layout.

http://plover.stenoknight.com/

For those of you who don't already know it's Open Source stenography software and runs on all three major operating systems. I am a decent QWERTY typist at speeds of about 100wpm so I believed I would be able to achieve a decent speed with Plover. I also ran through the very well made Learn Plover! ebook (https://sites.google.com/site/ploverdoc/) and believe that I would be able to type very quickly within only a few months of practice. A few demonstrations from the founder of the project on YouTube were enough to convince me that Steno was the thing. I then gave it a shot on my old alps board and found that it really was THE ****.

But then I ran into a wall, my old alps board was just 8NKRO and I could do any large words on it. Plover allows the user to use Stenography on a normal keyboard, but to properly use the software the keyboard must have true NKRO, just just the usual 2KRO or 6KRO that most keyboards support via usb. I was fine with using a PS/2 keyboard, I even prefer it as I dislike USBs for a number of reasons.

The problem was that all of the properly ergonomic keyboards the project suggested were either too expensive or required skills that I did not have. I did not want to use a DAS or other common NKRO keyboard that would screw with my hands again.

I don't have the skill to put together an ErgoDox after waiting the six months for it to arrive and a Stenoboard. http://stenoboard.com/ At least the stenoboard would come within the month of ordering.

I also was wonder about the new Matias split keyboard (http://matias.ca/ergopro/pc/). I know that the keyboard supports 6NKRO, but I fantasized that I might be able to use an adapter to fix this..... The keyboard isn't even out yet, I'm an alps fan and can see myself using steno on it with much issue.


So now for the barrage of questions:

Does anyone have long term experience with Plover, if so what keyboard did you use, how long did it take you to get to 100 wpm and then later to 200 wpm and does the software work as promised? I got a short show on YouTube and a quick test myself, but I have yet to really work through Plover or take a look at the code.

Is anyone here a professional or hobbyist stenographer who can give me a few tips or advice?

Has anyone used an adapter with a Matias keyboard to achieve NKRO before - this would be a good predictor of if it would be possible to do so on their new model.

Does anyone know of any ergonomic boards that are NKRO (even non-mechanical) or ones that can be converted via an adapter? Keyboards that have 20NKRO are also a possible option.

I also imaged taking two 60% boards and building an ergonomic stand for them, but that is going a little too far - not to mention whether Plover would be compatible with multiple keyboards at once.

Thanks

Offline davkol

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 30 November 2014, 15:51:58 »
PS/2 Access-IS keypad (120key if possible), as it supports NKRO.

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 30 November 2014, 15:56:05 »
Do you mean this? http://www.access-is.com/softprog.php

It looks incredible!

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 30 November 2014, 16:00:48 »
I would have to use two in tandem to achieve the split and ergonomic angle but it seems like they would be perfect... But being a custom board it would be very costly... Also, using two would require two ps/2 ports which my computer does not have.

But they are some amazing keyboards.

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 30 November 2014, 16:10:21 »
How much do the access keyboards cost on average, for a custom model?

Offline davkol

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 30 November 2014, 16:16:17 »
These keyboards usually have PS/2 passthrough, i.e. you can chain more of them.

Watch out for used keypads and you might get one for less than $30 eventually.

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 30 November 2014, 16:18:46 »
Any knowledge about the price to build a new custom model? Or do they only deal in bulk?

Offline davkol

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 30 November 2014, 16:25:13 »
Expensive… and yes, probably mostly just in bulk. It'd be probably cheaper to have an ergodox assembled for you.

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 30 November 2014, 16:26:41 »
Thanks for your help.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 01 December 2014, 09:41:35 »
The Stenosaurus project seems interesting: http://stenosaurus.blogspot.com/

Their prototype from a few months ago:

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 01 December 2014, 12:32:40 »
I looked into the stenosaurus earlier and it isn't as ergonomic as I was hoping for - all three major issues that initially made me switch to the kinesis (pronation, adducation and arm rotation). Maltron summarizes this nicely:

http://www.maltron.com/general-info/ergonomic-factors-in-maltron-design

I don't want to use the stenosaurus because I ave been feeling minor pain in my wrists and while I trust that stenography is more ergonomic than typing on a conventional layout I still don't believe that it will alleviate enough of the problem.

thanks

Offline hoggy

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 01 December 2014, 13:35:34 »
Any knowledge about the price to build a new custom model? Or do they only deal in bulk?

Last time I enquired it was about £140 each for a batch of ten.

PS/2 with a blue cube adaptor becomes 5kro for each board...

Ebay.co.uk is a good place to hunt, though.
GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 01 December 2014, 15:41:08 »
£140 is way less than I expected. It comes over to 174.71 USD when I put it into google today. That is a very good price for TEN boards.

Is true NKRO supported? 5NKRO wouldn't cut it for steno, even using two boards at once.

I can picture a 90 key for steno if the two hands could be separated to the far sides of the board...

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 01 December 2014, 18:18:17 »
I looked into the stenosaurus earlier and it isn't as ergonomic as I was hoping for - all three major issues that initially made me switch to the kinesis (pronation, adducation and arm rotation). Maltron summarizes this nicely:

http://www.maltron.com/general-info/ergonomic-factors-in-maltron-design

I don't want to use the stenosaurus because I ave been feeling minor pain in my wrists and while I trust that stenography is more ergonomic than typing on a conventional layout I still don't believe that it will alleviate enough of the problem.
Stenographic chord-typing is totally different from regular letter-by-letter typing. Instead of flexing the finger joints using the little flexor muscles in your forearm to press the keys, you move the fingers only to locate the key tops, but then press the chord by moving your whole hand/wrist/forearm down, flexing at the elbow and using the muscles in your upper arm, the same way you would play a piano chord.

It’s true that tenting and separating the halves of a steno keyboard might also help, but the motions involved in pressing the keys are so different that I don’t think it’s useful to compare a steno keyboard to a letter-by-letter keyboard in such a facile way.

Anecdotally, from what I’ve observed in myself and friends and colleagues, people’s biggest problem when typing on a standard keyboard – i.e. the most immediately damaging cause of finger/wrist strain – is having the wrist bent upwards or downwards (wrist flexion or extension) from the keyboard being at the wrong tilt for its position and/or resting the palms/wrists on a table or wrist-rest. Fixing this is pretty easy on any keyboard, but the typist has to understand the problem and then work to avoid lapsing into poor form.

Wrist adduction and pronation are definitely also problems, but the extent of wrist adduction and pronation can also be quite substantially reduced (on any arbitrary keyboard) by changing the way the arms and hands are held. On a standard QWERTY keyboard, typists are not forced to keep their hands/wrists totally parallel to the table or to the keyboard; there’s a range of orientations and positions that still allow fluid typing. I agree though that a standard keyboard requires a trade-off between whole hand movement and finger strain (at least for reaching the further away keys, like the number row), and making a better keyboard layout can improve efficiency, accuracy, comfort, and safety.

Finally, typing too hard is often a problem. Rubber dome keyboards are the worst here, because they encourage the typist to mash the keys down hard to guarantee that they’ll actuate. A mechanical switch with sufficient audio/tactile feedback and some post-actuation travel can often be very helpful in allowing someone to type each stroke with no more force than necessary. Fancy stenography keyboards (which I’ve only ever tried very briefly and am not at all competent to type on) tend to use very low-actuation-force switches, and from what I understand typing too hard on them is pretty easy to avoid / not really a problem in practice.

Anyway, a standard keyboard, regardless of shape, puts load and shock on the finger joints and the tendons and muscles that attach to them. The Maltron and Kinesis improve on the ANSI/QWERTY/IBM keyboard design by allowing the wrist to stay straighter than on the standard keyboard, which gives the fingers more agility and strength. But each stroke is still fundamentally putting load on the joint at the base of the finger, and the impact shock at the bottom of a stroke is still largely borne by the finger joints (this is also reduced by “floating” the wrists in the air so the whole arm can absorb some of the impact). On a steno chording keyboard, all of the load and most of the impact force is instead borne by the elbow joint and muscles of the upper arm that flex/extend the elbow.

Whether you’ll suffer the same kinds of stress that caused you pain on a standard keyboard is something you just have to try. Just looking at the angle and positioning of the keys on a steno keyboard is not sufficient to judge its effect on your joints.

If you’re serious about typing steno, I suspect having nice lightweight switches, arranged in the traditional way, with keycaps that make it easy to type multiple keys with one finger is probably a more important overall feature than having the keyboard halves split and tented. Obviously there’s no theoretical reason you couldn’t get a keyboard with nice switches/keycaps/layout and *also* split/tented; indeed, they exist, they’re just really expensive. Or you could build one yourself.

If you’re still suffering wrist pain on your Kinesis Advantage, if you describe a bit more explicitly what your typing technique is like, people can offer more specific advice. (Or the easiest is with a quick video.)
« Last Edit: Mon, 01 December 2014, 18:33:43 by jacobolus »

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #14 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 00:38:41 »
Thanks for one hell of a post jacobolus. Do you have experience with steno yourself?

Facile, eh? I know that stenography is supposed to use a different set of muscles but which reading up on the ergonomics of it there are still cases of RSI. Mirabai Knight, the founder of the open steno project, mentions the usage of ergonomics steno machines in this post:

http://plover.stenoknight.com/2010/05/ergonomic-argument.html

I plan to follow her approach. If stenographers have gotten RSI before than so can I - it is better to be safe than sorry, which is why I'm so selective about which keyboard I will use.

When it comes to typing I have a very strict approach. I have to as I type on average above 5,000 words per day (one of the reasons steno speed appealed to me). I use a modified maltron layout and make sure to follow the basics. Most of how I take breaks, stretch and position myself I learned when I went through the maltron training course. I believe that maltron's research is accurate. I am sure that I'm not making basic mistakes like bending my wrists.

However, I do use emacs regularly during work - this may be the source of the issue. I know it got RMS.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #15 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 00:57:32 »
Facile, eh?
Sorry, I’m not trying to be a jerk about it. I just mean, while some of the considerations are the same (trying to avoid having your wrist bent in an uncomfortable way), the way typing happens on a steno keyboard is sufficiently different to make the load on finger joints quite different, so it’s hard to directly compare e.g. “Maltron vs. one-piece steno board”.

I agree having full control over the independent position and 3-dimensional orientation of the two halves (or even just having a pre-set split/tent/tilt/turn that works for you) is a great feature, and a split steno keyboard will probably be more comfortable/efficient than a one-piece one.

I think Mirabai’s blog post you linked is great!
« Last Edit: Tue, 02 December 2014, 01:14:43 by jacobolus »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #16 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 01:03:47 »
However, I do use emacs regularly during work - this may be the source of the issue. I know it got RMS.
It’s possible. What kind of motions are required to do common emacs commands using your current layout?

Frequent switching between mouse and keyboard is also one that gets a lot of folks. For some people, other totally separate activities they do are putting strain on the same tissues (e.g. playing a sport or instrument).

Have you been suffering from RSI-type symptoms for a long time? Have things been improving / holding steady / worsening? What kind of symptoms? Did you try talking to a doctor?

It sounds like you’re generally taking your hand health seriously and trying to figure out what motions cause issues and how to fix it. That’s probably the most important thing; there are a bunch of people who don’t take their symptoms seriously until they physically can’t type anymore. (People are crazy sometimes.)
« Last Edit: Tue, 02 December 2014, 01:08:05 by jacobolus »

Offline hoggy

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #17 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 02:46:51 »
�140 is way less than I expected. It comes over to 174.71 USD when I put it into google today. That is a very good price for TEN boards.

Is true NKRO supported? 5NKRO wouldn't cut it for steno, even using two boards at once.

I can picture a 90 key for steno if the two hands could be separated to the far sides of the board...

Sorry, £140 each, can't buy fewer than 10...  PS/2 are def. NKRO

The 90 keys might be suitable for what you have in mind (except for key rollover)



GH Ergonomic Guide (in progress)
http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=54680.0

Offline vvp

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #18 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 04:21:37 »
[During regular letter by letter typing,]... each stroke is still fundamentally putting load on the joint at the base of the finger, and the impact shock at the bottom of a stroke is still largely borne by the finger joints (this is also reduced by “floating” the wrists in the air so the whole arm can absorb some of the impact). On a steno chording keyboard, all of the load and most of the impact force is instead borne by the elbow joint and muscles of the upper arm that flex/extend the elbow.
My knowledge of physics indicates this is not true. If the hand posture is the same then it does not really matter whether also the forearm is moving down or not. In both cases the impact of bottoming out is propagating from finger tips up to the arm. This force propagation will have the same load on the finger joints (regardless  whether also forearm is moving or is suspended in the air).  Avoiding bottoming out is best but you can do that in both steno and letter-by-letter typing. From this point of view, the only good thing for steno is that there is smaller number of key presses each finger needs to do for the same text.

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #19 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 15:21:01 »
�140 is way less than I expected. It comes over to 174.71 USD when I put it into google today. That is a very good price for TEN boards.

Is true NKRO supported? 5NKRO wouldn't cut it for steno, even using two boards at once.

I can picture a 90 key for steno if the two hands could be separated to the far sides of the board...

Sorry, �140 each, can't buy fewer than 10...  PS/2 are def. NKRO

The 90 keys might be suitable for what you have in mind (except for key rollover)


Thanks hoggy. Of course it wasn't 140 for ten. I should have known that was ridiculous :D. Ah well. I can always dream of prices that great.
Unfortunately I don't think that steno can be done without proper NKRO - so it looks like getting one of these is a no-go.

However, I do use emacs regularly during work - this may be the source of the issue. I know it got RMS.
It�s possible. What kind of motions are required to do common emacs commands using your current layout?

Frequent switching between mouse and keyboard is also one that gets a lot of folks. For some people, other totally separate activities they do are putting strain on the same tissues (e.g. playing a sport or instrument).

Have you been suffering from RSI-type symptoms for a long time? Have things been improving / holding steady / worsening? What kind of symptoms? Did you try talking to a doctor?

It sounds like you�re generally taking your hand health seriously and trying to figure out what motions cause issues and how to fix it. That�s probably the most important thing; there are a bunch of people who don�t take their symptoms seriously until they physically can�t type anymore. (People are crazy sometimes.)

I still use the default bindings (which are suspiciously well placed on the maltron layout) for most things or ergoemacs on the days that I get pissed at it. I try to avoid the mouse for most of my work, one of the reasons I'm an avid emacs user. I even considered getting foot pedals for CTRL and ALT, though ultimately I decided they were too expensive.

My symptoms are just occasional wrist pain at the moment; they gotten better since getting a kinesis advantage and switching to the malt layout. Before that I spend years on an old model M. The pain does return within a few hours if I type on a "standard" keyboard again. Back in the day I was also an avid video game player and spent hundreds of hours online.

[During regular letter by letter typing,]... each stroke is still fundamentally putting load on the joint at the base of the finger, and the impact shock at the bottom of a stroke is still largely borne by the finger joints (this is also reduced by �floating� the wrists in the air so the whole arm can absorb some of the impact). On a steno chording keyboard, all of the load and most of the impact force is instead borne by the elbow joint and muscles of the upper arm that flex/extend the elbow.
My knowledge of physics indicates this is not true. If the hand posture is the same then it does not really matter whether also the forearm is moving down or not. In both cases the impact of bottoming out is propagating from finger tips up to the arm. This force propagation will have the same load on the finger joints (regardless  whether also forearm is moving or is suspended in the air).  Avoiding bottoming out is best but you can do that in both steno and letter-by-letter typing. From this point of view, the only good thing for steno is that there is smaller number of key presses each finger needs to do for the same text.

This is very interesting. I think that the best way to learn more about stenography would be to send an email to Mirabai Knight. She is the only professional stenographer that I know of and likely to help out as I plan to use Plover for steno. What do you guys think of that idea?

I have also been looking more seriously into the stenoboard (http://stenoboard.com/). There is very little information online about it. Does anyone own one? I think that if I built a custom stand for it and paid for someone to assemble it for me it would be the cheapest and best option.

thanks for your help everyone!

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #20 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 15:49:38 »
My knowledge of physics indicates this is not true.
Which “knowledge of physics” is that? Did you go through medical school / train as a physical therapist / extensively study kinesiology as a hobby? Or maybe you spent a bunch of time building tensegrity structures or tension-based robots?

Newtonian mechanics classes/textbooks at e.g. the college level don’t really discuss anything all that specifically relevant to understanding human motion. Even most structural/mechanical engineering study is only partly relevant, since in practice very few structures/mechanisms people build use similar parts or types of motion used by vertebrates’ bone/muscle/tendon systems. Most structures and mechanisms rely on very strong rigid materials, and use gears, cams, belts, and similar devices to propagate motion. Some mechanisms use hydraulics. Studying assembly line robots might be at least a bit useful for understanding vertebrate motion, but it’s still pretty different.

Quote
If the hand posture is the same then it does not really matter whether also the forearm is moving down or not.
My point from before is that the hand posture is emphatically *not* the same between typing chords or typing single letters. Also, most people typing on standard keyboards have terrible hand posture. If they floated their wrists in the air to let their triceps take some of the impact they’d noticeably reduce the strain on the tissues in their fingers and on their finger flexor/extensor muscles/tendons. But even so, they’d still get a different result than someone typing chords.

Quote
This force propagation [i.e. impact propagating from finger tip up through the arm] will have the same load on the finger joints (regardless  whether also forearm is moving or is suspended in the air).
I dunno what to tell you. This is just wrong.
« Last Edit: Tue, 02 December 2014, 16:03:54 by jacobolus »

Offline JackMills

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #21 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 16:10:17 »
My knowledge of physics indicates this is not true.
Which “knowledge of physics” is that? Did you go through medical school / train as a physical therapist / extensively study kinesiology as a hobby? Or maybe you spent a bunch of time building tensegrity structures or tension-based robots?

Newtonian mechanics classes/textbooks at e.g. the college level don’t really discuss anything all that specifically relevant to understanding human motion.

Quote
If the hand posture is the same then it does not really matter whether also the forearm is moving down or not.
My point from before is that the hand posture is emphatically *not* the same between typing chords or typing single letters. Also, most people typing on standard keyboards have terrible hand posture. If they floated their wrists in the air to let their triceps take some of the impact they’d noticeably reduce the strain on the tissues in their fingers and on their finger flexor/extensor muscles/tendons. But even so, they’d still get a different result than someone typing chords.

Quote
This force propagation [i.e. impact propagating from finger tip up through the arm] will have the same load on the finger joints (regardless  whether also forearm is moving or is suspended in the air).
I dunno what to tell you. This is just wrong.
Completely Off Topic, but may I return the question to you Jacobulus, what is your source of your knownledge? I am really curious, because you seem to know a lot and I was wondering if your interest was professional or hobby or a combination.
And can you recommended literature to people who want to read up on the subject of (office) ergonomics? If it would lead this topic astray, feel free to PM me on these questions.

On topic: the main reason for me to stay away from stenography is the need for a good dictionary, as I juggle with two or three languages daily, I haven't figured out how to handle that. Maybe it is easy to do but it seems an investment I am not willing to make yet.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #22 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 17:15:31 »
Completely Off Topic, but may I return the question to you Jacobulus [sic], what is your source of your knownledge?
Just a lot of hobby reading (random stuff on the internet, some books, a bunch of various academic papers), plus (even more importantly) a lot of testing stuff out on my own hands, paying careful attention to feeling what happens when I move in various ways. Unfortunately a lot of the academic work I’ve seen specifically focused on keyboard ergonomics is pretty disappointing for a whole variety of reasons.

I’m really far from any kind of expert. (More like a very opinionated amateur.) I should track down some folks with Ph.Ds in this stuff and go pester them with a bunch of questions sometime.

[I’d also love to have access to e.g. an electromyograph to do some physical measurements of tendon/muscle load or a high-speed high-precision motion tracking system (and someone experienced to generate data/animations from that) so we could see directly what kind of hand and finger movements different people use when typing on various sorts of keyboards, instead of relying on qualitative experience and other people’s data from poorly designed experiments.]

As for resources online, most of it is either instructions of what to do to avoid injury when typing without a whole lot of detailed motivating explanation (and often based on the pet theories of people who are trying to sell something), or else anatomy textbook type stuff, without a direct explicit relation to typing. Some of the better resources about how force propagates up kinesthetic muscle/tendon chains is about feet/legs in running. There’s a great video of an hour-long lecture on youtube that I watched a couple years ago that I just spent 10 minutes unsuccessfully searching for. (Don’t you hate it when you can’t find stuff online that you know exists?)

The problem with most resources about anatomy (especially ones aimed at non-experts, and stuff that’s online) is they’re often more concerned with breaking down the body into parts and describing the parts in isolation and their testable properties, rather than looking at motions and studying in detail how all the parts interact in that motion. So if you spend just a bit of time studying anatomy, you end up with an ability to name each part, but not necessarily so much understanding of how the whole system works. This focus makes some sense if someone is studying to be a surgeon or something: they need to know which part is broken and how to fix it, and understanding the full system is helpful context but not essential. But it’s not ideal for trying to understand how typing works.
« Last Edit: Tue, 02 December 2014, 17:20:40 by jacobolus »

Offline vvp

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #23 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 19:06:26 »
Which “knowledge of physics” is that?
Just simple mechanical stuff. No human body things. I was interested in it at university. But it is not my area of expertise. I do only software now.

I believe that one can model this closely enough as  a simple system connected by joints and springs. You do not seem to agree.

Anyway I think that provided proper hand posture, the impact from bottoming out will not be significantly different between letter-by-letter typing and stenography. I claim that in both cases the forces from the sudden stop will propagate from fingertips through each individual joint up the hand. They will attenuate at each joint since they are flexible. I.e. the more far away a joint is from the finger tip the less it is influenced by the bottoming out. I do not believe that forces can somehow magically move to elbow without influencing more the previous joints first.

I do not have this modelled with equations to show it (and I do not intend to do it just for this discussion). Provided you do not have it modelled either then maybe we can just agree that we disagree in this point :)

Quote
This force propagation [i.e. impact propagating from finger tip up through the arm] will have the same load on the finger joints (regardless  whether also forearm is moving or is suspended in the air).
I dunno what to tell you. This is just wrong.
Is this only your claim or do you have equations (some research paper from somebody) which model the two situations and show there is a significant difference? Of course, if you claim that this cannot be modelled with Newtonian physics then there probably are no equations to show. And then it is just smoke and mirrors.

But strictly speaking you are right, I was wrong. It cannot be exactly the same since there is also forearm movement in one case and that probably will not be exactly compensated by biceps in just the right time. So there will be a negligible difference.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 02 December 2014, 23:39:43 »
I believe that one can model this closely enough as  a simple system connected by joints and springs. You do not seem to agree.

The best way I’ve heard of to think about human motion is to think of tendons as springs, and muscles as tensioners for those springs. Whenever you anticipate an impact, you add tension to the muscle–tendon system you expect to receive the impact by contracting both of the opponent muscles for that joint (i.e. both the flexor and extensor, or both the abductor and adductor, or whatever). By finely tuning the tension, you can optimize the efficiency of force transfer up into the big muscles/tendons which can properly accept the energy. If you have joints that are immobile (like an immobile wrist when the palm is resting on the table or a palmrest) then they obviously can’t accept that kind of energy transfer.

Did you ever play the game where you have two long rows of people, paired off, and each pair throws a raw egg back and forth, taking a step backward after each toss, and you see which pair can manage to get furthest apart while throwing/catching the egg without breaking it? (Sometimes done with a water balloon; same concept.) Well, when you catch the egg, it’s very important to catch it slowly. If you just reach your hand out and an egg that has been lobbed 25 feet hits your hand, it will break. Instead, you need to initially be moving your hand at roughly the same speed the egg is moving, and catch it very softly, slowly decelerating it. Well, the same is true of any impact. On impact, if all your joints are locked hard (e.g. if you put too much tension on the joints, or if they’re at their maximum extent and can’t flex further) then the impact gets transferred through ligament/cartilage/bone, materials which are relatively inelastic – you get the effect as catching the egg too hard, except instead of broken eggs you get arthritis. To properly cushion the impact and transfer force up the kinetic chain you need to dynamically adjust the amount of tension at each joint by carefully choreographing muscle contraction.

Quote
Is this only your claim or do you have equations (some research paper from somebody) which model the two situations and show there is a significant difference? Of course, if you claim that this cannot be modelled with Newtonian physics then there probably are no equations to show. And then it is just smoke and mirrors.
I would love to see a good set of mathematical models for vertebrate muscle systems. I’m sure people have worked on this, but I don’t directly know of any.

I spent 30 seconds on google scholar, and here’s a widely cited paper. Might be useful:
http://www.kines.umich.edu/sites/webservices.itcs.umich.edu.drupal.kinesprod/files/resource_files/2.pdf
« Last Edit: Tue, 02 December 2014, 23:47:32 by jacobolus »

Offline JackMills

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #25 on: Wed, 03 December 2014, 02:21:03 »
I believe that one can model this closely enough as  a simple system connected by joints and springs. You do not seem to agree.

The best way I’ve heard of to think about human motion is to think of tendons as springs, and muscles as tensioners for those springs. Whenever you anticipate an impact, you add tension to the muscle–tendon system you expect to receive the impact by contracting both of the opponent muscles for that joint (i.e. both the flexor and extensor, or both the abductor and adductor, or whatever). By finely tuning the tension, you can optimize the efficiency of force transfer up into the big muscles/tendons which can properly accept the energy. If you have joints that are immobile (like an immobile wrist when the palm is resting on the table or a palmrest) then they obviously can’t accept that kind of energy transfer.

Did you ever play the game where you have two long rows of people, paired off, and each pair throws a raw egg back and forth, taking a step backward after each toss, and you see which pair can manage to get furthest apart while throwing/catching the egg without breaking it? (Sometimes done with a water balloon; same concept.) Well, when you catch the egg, it’s very important to catch it slowly. If you just reach your hand out and an egg that has been lobbed 25 feet hits your hand, it will break. Instead, you need to initially be moving your hand at roughly the same speed the egg is moving, and catch it very softly, slowly decelerating it. Well, the same is true of any impact. On impact, if all your joints are locked hard (e.g. if you put too much tension on the joints, or if they’re at their maximum extent and can’t flex further) then the impact gets transferred through ligament/cartilage/bone, materials which are relatively inelastic – you get the effect as catching the egg too hard, except instead of broken eggs you get arthritis. To properly cushion the impact and transfer force up the kinetic chain you need to dynamically adjust the amount of tension at each joint by carefully choreographing muscle contraction.

Quote
Is this only your claim or do you have equations (some research paper from somebody) which model the two situations and show there is a significant difference? Of course, if you claim that this cannot be modelled with Newtonian physics then there probably are no equations to show. And then it is just smoke and mirrors.
I would love to see a good set of mathematical models for vertebrate muscle systems. I’m sure people have worked on this, but I don’t directly know of any.

I spent 30 seconds on google scholar, and here’s a widely cited paper. Might be useful:
http://www.kines.umich.edu/sites/webservices.itcs.umich.edu.drupal.kinesprod/files/resource_files/2.pdf

I will try to look up my bibliography in my thesis tonight, I remember a good book about the mechanics of human movement, but I can't remember it (for completeness the thesis was about using EMG signals to actuate an electric motor to move the lower leg). I haven't been active in ergonomics ever since, but this is something I find interesting (maybe a separate topic is in order?)
 

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #26 on: Wed, 03 December 2014, 13:48:48 »
That is one fascinating paper, and I haven't even finished it yet.

I know this has gotten off topic, but this debate is too god to miss out on. Could everyone here tell other geekhackers to come and weight in on it? That way we could get this think tank even more riled up!

I'm doing some research at the moment myself. At the moment reading through the Lillian malt papers. A quick search also turned up this:

http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/AHProjects/Mouse/keyboard.html

It has a lot of generic ergo information, but muscle usage is covered as well - not in great depth however.

Getting a definitive answer here could help a lot of people.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #27 on: Wed, 03 December 2014, 15:15:50 »
http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/AHProjects/Mouse/keyboard.html
This study is really annoying, because they tested only three different positions/orientations for the keyboards, they had an absurdly tiny sample size, they made no analysis of the effects of different typing technique among their subjects, and they made no effort to really understand their data with any kind of model. Lots of studies are like this, basically wasting their authors’, subjects’, and readers’ time as far as I’m concerned.

For a keyboard without a physical split, there are at least 3 degrees of freedom in placement (relative to a particular chair): height, distance from the body, and tilt. (There’s also right-left position, and two other rotation angles, which might be relevant since the study is also supposed to be about mouse use, and sliding the keyboard left or right will make a trade-off between typing comfort and distance to the mouse.) Testing only 3 discrete points in a 3+ dimensional space and then trying to draw conclusions from that is ludicrous.

They are clearly (I can tell without even reading, just by glancing at the wrist extension data chart) testing keyboards that naturally come with a tilt where the back is higher than the front. This kind of tilt is designed for a height relation between torso and desk such that the arms are angled slightly upward. They didn’t mention keyboard feet, so I’m going to assume either the keyboards they tested had no feet, or they left them in a fixed position. If you take this keyboard and put it down on a keyboard tray, it is possible to get your wrist neutral again, but you have to keep tilting the keyboard backward until your wrists are straight. You can’t just set it on any particular fixed tray and call it a day.

To properly do a test of comfortable angle and position, if you want your study to be useful, you need to first fix the position and test a range of angles (at least 4–6 test angles for that single position) to figure out which one is best for that position. Because body shapes vary from person to person, you also need to account for that in your analysis or experiment. Once you have data for a comfortable angle at that one position, you can repeat the same angle study for several more positions. At the end, you can fit your data to a mathematical model which shows that for every keyboard height, there’s some particular angle to put the keyboard at which people’s wrist angle while typing is pretty neutral.

The problem with this current study is that you can’t effectively interpret their data until you have a mental model that explains the relationship between keyboard position/angle and wrist angle. If you do have such a mental model, their data is confirming what you already know, but not very usefully since it’s nowhere near comprehensive. If you don’t have such a mental model, this study does nothing to provide you one, and you’re left misinterpreting the data.

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #28 on: Wed, 03 December 2014, 19:09:03 »
I did warn you that the article wasn't that detailed:-X.

Don't be to harsh on it, it was obviously never meant to be a true comprehensive study. I intended it to be a point of discussion (which worked, I guess).

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #29 on: Wed, 03 December 2014, 20:04:22 »
Yeah, I’m not bothered so much by that study specifically. What bothers me is that like 90% of the academic papers I’ve seen about keyboard ergonomics have similar problems. It’s like they get some undergrad or grad student to spend a month on a project, publish a paper, and then move on. Which I guess is fine if the point is to just have some easy projects for students to practice a bit of writing and then go on to work on some other field or get a job or whatever, but the resulting product is essentially useless for anyone else.

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #30 on: Wed, 03 December 2014, 21:22:16 »
I couldn't agree more. I don't think that anyone save, maltron, datahand, yogitype and a few others have really put any thought/research into keyboard design. All the ergo keyboards just copy the M$ elite. Or they make the keys curse slightly and call it ergonomic. Logitech does that crap all the time.

Do you know of any published studies that properly do the job? The only published one I can think of off the top of my head are the Lillian Malt paper and unfortunately those don't go into depth about muscle usage. Yogitype provides research as well. But, well... I'm an ignorant 'murican and I don't know how to translate it properly to English.

http://www.yogitype.com/images/pdf/pers/ergonomie-2005.pdf

Wow. This has gotten very off topic.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #31 on: Wed, 03 December 2014, 22:23:32 »
I think the Maltron studies are also pretty weak methodologically. Malt’s papers aren’t really trying to be peer-reviewed science, but are more like white papers explaining (a tiny bit about) her design. The parts that involve comparisons in typing speed/accuracy between different keyboards are tiny samples of self-selected typists, with large parts of the study design left unexplained, and rudimentary data analysis.

I’m not sure if I can think of any great studies off-hand. I’ve read a few dozen papers on related subjects, but none of them really blew me away.

I didn’t read that Yogitype thing (but here’s Google’s translation from Dutch to English in case someone wants to read), but just judging from the picture, the “standard keyboard” setup isn’t very ergonomic:

His chair is too low, his desk is too high, his spine is hunched over, his wrists are extended at an uncomfortable angle and are resting on the table, and his arms are splayed out and reaching pretty far forward. Typing like this is probably okay for a few minutes at a time, for someone frequently changing position, but anyone who types in this position for hours every day is going to be really uncomfortable and maybe seriously injure themselves.
« Last Edit: Wed, 03 December 2014, 22:38:28 by jacobolus »

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #32 on: Fri, 05 December 2014, 23:43:57 »
Your hard to please ;D.

I agree with you that maltron could have given a better explanation, however they keyboard does seem to work. I've been lurking around geekhack for some time and there are  next to no stories about maltrons that fail to alleviate RSI. Maybe proword would know more. I have heard he is a strong maltron advocate.

The yogitype translation turn out well. Very little chop. Unfortunately it's not much better than the malt paper. An you're right. That's a ****ty picture. I've seen most yogitype users place the stand on a table, etc. The pictures issues may be more due to the actors failures than the keyboards. By accounts I've read (very few) it's a very good keyboard. I think it comes more down to the person being the wheel. Most are not taught posture and fewer still force themselves to assume it. I always used to slump in my chair - but those days of blissful innocence are gone

I wish that some maltron/yogitype users would find this thread. They might know something more.

thanks for the post

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #33 on: Fri, 05 December 2014, 23:59:40 »
I've been lurking around geekhack for some time and there are  next to no stories about maltrons that fail to alleviate RSI.
I think the Maltron is great. I do know of several people who tried them and couldn’t get used to them or didn’t like the form factor, and went back to other keyboards. But I think they make a great product, and their design in the 70s was amazingly far ahead of the game.

Quote
That's a ****ty picture. I've seen most yogitype users place the stand on a table, etc. The pictures issues may be more due to the actors failures than the keyboards. By accounts I've read (very few) it's a very good keyboard.
I was commenting more on the way the guy was using the standard keyboard. The way he was set up on the Yogitype looked a bit better IMO.

I think the Yogitype is interesting, but it’s definitely not for everyone (specifically, not for me).

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #34 on: Sun, 07 December 2014, 17:30:03 »
The yogitype certainly isn't for everyone. I would only be willing to accept it if I got serious RSI.

Sorry to end this thread but I have made the choice to go with the stenoboard and try to built a stand for tenting. I also considered the ergodox, but the shipping time was simply too long.

Thanks for all of the help everyone.

Jacobolus, thanks especially for your thoughts - there does need to be a proper study.

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #35 on: Sun, 07 December 2014, 18:23:09 »
Sorry to end this thread but I have made the choice to go with the stenoboard and try to built a stand for tenting.
I hope you like it. I don’t have any experience with that type of tactile switches, so I really have no idea how suitable they are for use on a steno keyboard, and I also don’t have much experience with 3d-printed PLA. Surface finish looks pretty rough/uneven, hopefully the keycaps are durable enough. I guess $100 US + shipping isn’t impossibly expensive; might be sufficient to give you an idea about whether buying a nicer steno keyboard is worth it.

Offline NAMESPACE

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Re: Ergonomic NKRO keyboard for use with Plover?
« Reply #36 on: Mon, 08 December 2014, 13:56:01 »
Sorry to end this thread but I have made the choice to go with the stenoboard and try to built a stand for tenting.
I hope you like it. I don�t have any experience with that type of tactile switches, so I really have no idea how suitable they are for use on a steno keyboard, and I also don�t have much experience with 3d-printed PLA. Surface finish looks pretty rough/uneven, hopefully the keycaps are durable enough. I guess $100 US + shipping isn�t impossibly expensive; might be sufficient to give you an idea about whether buying a nicer steno keyboard is worth it.

Once it gets to me I'll do a post about how it feels. I also plan to order the high quality plastic model for better durability. I've used a 3D printer before and the plastic is sturdy as hell, if crude looking. Far stronger than the average keyboard. I'm eager to test the switches myself - I would feel more comfortable with Cherry MX but they should do.

I plan to build the tenting stand out of wood, I've got skill with that an some sanded pine wont take more than two or three weeks to put together.