Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Engram: A Systematic Approach to Optimize Keyboard Layouts for Touch Typing, With Example for the English Language

Version 1 : Received: 9 March 2021 / Approved: 10 March 2021 / Online: 10 March 2021 (13:24:58 CET)

How to cite: Klein, A. Engram: A Systematic Approach to Optimize Keyboard Layouts for Touch Typing, With Example for the English Language. Preprints 2021, 2021030287 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202103.0287.v1). Klein, A. Engram: A Systematic Approach to Optimize Keyboard Layouts for Touch Typing, With Example for the English Language. Preprints 2021, 2021030287 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202103.0287.v1).

Abstract

Most computer keyboard layouts (mappings of characters to keys) do not reflect the ergonomics of the human hand, resulting in preventable repetitive strain injuries. We present a set of ergonomics principles relevant to touch typing, introduce a scoring model that encodes these principles, and outline a systematic approach for developing optimized keyboard layouts in any language based on this scoring model coupled with character-pair frequencies. We then create a keyboard layout optimized for touch typing in English by constraining key assignments to reduce lateral finger movements and enforce easy access to high-frequency letters and letter pairs, applying open source software to generate millions of layouts, and evaluating them based on Google’s N-gram data. We use two independent scoring methods to compare the resulting Engram layout against 10 other prominent keyboard layouts based on a variety of publicly available text sources. The Engram layout scores consistently higher than other keyboard layouts.

Supplementary and Associated Material

https://github.com/binarybottle/engram: GitHub public repository for engram optimization software
https://engram.dev: Official website
https://keyman.com/keyboards/engram: Keyman distribution website
https://github.com/binarybottle/text_data: GitHub public repository for text data

Keywords

ergonomics; keyboard layout; optimized keyboard layout; keyboard; touch typing; bigram frequencies

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