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  • New Cell Phone Keypad Matrix Enables Super-Fast Text Entry

    Posted by WDN (, July 2003

    Instant 300% typing speed boost lets cell phone manufacturers put wings on SMS, MMS and other text-entry related applications.

    Chicago Logic announces Delta II, a 5-button wide, single-hand operation keypad matrix that needs no learning because it utilizes the user's PC (QWERTY) keyboard typing experience.

    Dana Suess, founder of Chicago Logic and designer of the Delta II keypad states, "No matter how you prop up the current 12-button cell phone keypad with software, or rearrange the buttons into lines or circles, it is fundamentally limited as a text entry device."

    QWERTY too wide

    "If you are going to type fast, you need at least 26 buttons, a button for each letter."

    Ideally, cell phone designers could use the well-known QWERTY keyboard layout for cell phone keypads, except that a QWERTY keypad requires 10 buttons across the top row. This unfortunately results, either in a keypad with tiny buttons that are crowded too close together to isolate and press rapidly, or a keypad that is too wide for single-hand operation.

    The letters on the Delta II keypad are in proximity to their original locations on a QWERTY keyboard.

    Alphabetic too slow

    Without the 10-button wide QWERTY layout as an option, keypad designers have resorted to alphabetical arrangements of buttons - for example: A B C D E in the first row, F G H I J in the second row, and so on.

    While obvious, alphabetical layouts are not ideal.

    In his book, "The Design of Everyday Things", well known user-interface designer Donald A. Norman states: "Even though several experiments show that these are of no use to novices and detrimental to experts, every year designers plunge ahead and foist another alphabetical keyboard on us."

    Norman concludes, "Moral: Don't bother with alphabetical keyboards."

    Suess goes on to explain, "The reason alphabetical keyboard arrangements don't work well is because most of us start out typing on the QWERTY (PC) keyboard layout. This basically ruins us for other layouts because it is difficult to 'unlearn' something. Our instincts and reflexes tend to favor our initial training. This has been observed in disciplines such as skydiving and military training, where performing the appropriate action quickly, the first time and every time, is important."

    A PC (QWERTY) keyboard user who types on an alphabetically ordered keypad, instinctively looks and reaches for the upper left corner of the keypad to type the letter '"Q", even though on an alphabetically ordered keypad, the letter "Q" is somewhere near the bottom.

    This action is caused by a reflex known as "motor memory", which in this case, propels the users fingers and eyes to where they first learned the letter "Q" was located. On alphabetical keypads, this causes the user to "stall" when looking for the next letter to type, degrading the average users typing speed to less than half that of the QWERTY layout. Even with substantial practice, the stalling problem with alphabetical keypads does not go away.

    Delta II to the rescue

    The Delta II layout solves both of these problems by keeping every letter in proximity to where it exists on a QWERTY keyboard, but in a 5-button wide, single-hand operation keypad. Users instantly type twice as fast on a Delta II layout as compared to a 26-button, alphabetically ordered keypad and four times faster than the current 12-button cell phone keypad. Testing shows mastering the Delta II keypad takes minutes instead of months and transitions back and forth between using PC keyboards and Delta II keypads are smooth.

    An interactive demo is available at

    Related Weblinks:


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