Zoomboard: A Diminutive QWERTY Keyboard for Ultra-Small Devices

The proliferation of touchscreen devices has made soft keyboards a routine part of life. However, ultra-small computing platforms like the Sony SmartWatch and Apple iPod Nano lack a means of text entry. This limits their potential, despite the fact they are capable computers. In this work, we present a soft keyboard interaction technique called ZoomBoard that enables text entry on ultra-small devices. Our approach uses iterative zooming to enlarge otherwise impossibly tiny keys to comfortable size. We based our design on a QWERTY layout, so that it is immediately familiar to users and leverages existing skill. As the ultimate test, we ran a text entry experiment on a keyboard measuring just 16 x 6mm smaller than a US penny. Users achieved roughly 10 words per minute, allowing users to enter phone numbers and searches such as "closest pizza" and "directions home" both quickly and quietly.

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Reference

Oney, S., Harrison, C., Ogan, A. and Wiese, J. ZoomBoard: A Diminutive QWERTY Soft Keyboard Using Iterative Zooming for Ultra-Small Devices. In Proceedings of the 31st Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Paris, France, April 27 - May 2, 2013). CHI '13. ACM, New York, NY. 2799-2802.

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© Chris Harrison