It’s been the de-facto keyboard standard since Queen Victoria’s reign, and it’s already seen off fierce competitors such as the Dvorak layout, but plucky inventors are still attempting to usurp the old-fashioned QWERTY layout.
The latest challenger is the Fast Fingered Keyboard, boasting an alphabetical key layout, as well as shortcuts to common computery acronyms.
The latter can be found as sub-features of the Function keys, and contain all the usual shortcuts for web banter, including LOL, TTYL, BRB and IMO. However, there are also some horrors that make you despair about the future of English on the Web, including CYA, L8R and HRU (how are you).
Although the Fast Fingered Keyboard has primarily an alphabetic layout, the QWERTY layout is still marked on the keys in red, and you can switch between the two layouts at the touch of a button. The idea, according to the makers, is that you can share the keyboard between people who are inexperienced with computers, as well as those who are accustomed to the QWERTY layout.
As well as this, the “www” prefix for web addresses is also a sub-function of the + button. Basically, if you find yourself wasting hours trying to find the L and O keys needed to spell LOL, even on an alphabetical keyboard, then this is probably the peripheral for you. Apparently there are plenty of such people in the world.
Describing the motivation to create the dual-layout keyboard, co-designer Faith Quintavell recalls watching a mechanic trying to operate a computer at a car repair shop. “The mechanic's hunt & peck method of typing was considerably hindering his speed of work,” she says, and she then considered how “quicker clients could be attended to if the mechanic was as comfortable with his computer keyboard as he was with his spanners.”
Meanwhile, Quintavell’s business partner, Lynn Grieco, noticed how frequently her daughter used acronyms and Internet jargon when she was chatting online. The two decided that they could make a keyboard that could be used by anyone, speeding up both work and chat.
Of course, alphabetical keyboards are nothing new. A number of companies have already tried their hand at them, but the established longevity of the QWERTY layout has made it tough for them to break through. Not only have we learned to type on QWERTY keyboards, but so did our parents and grandparents – you can’t change that overnight.
Similarly, the much-praised Dvorak layout may well be a superior layout if you learn how to use it from scratch, but it’s not easy to get millions of keyboard users to switch from one layout to another.
The Fast Fingered keyboard is available now for $22.99 US, and you’ll need to add another $21 for worldwide shipping.