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Imagine sitting in a train, typing out a business proposal on your tablet with one hand and caressing a cup of latte with the other hand. Or going to college equipped with only your trusty tablet because you can type just as fast and accurately on tablet as you would on a mechanical keyboard. Touch screen tablets have the full potential to replace laptops or desktops. But because of the ineffective virtual keyboard based on 140 years old type writers, data entry on touch screen tablets had never reached the same effective rate as a mechanical keyboard. The AFKPU keyboard seeks to solve the problems that had kept tablets from serving more professional tasks by making data entry easy, fast, and accurate on touch screen devices.
The basic concept of AFKPU is simple; the user register keys by making a tap, or an up/down/left/right stroke with their fingers. On the tablet version, this makes it possible to give a single hand complete access to the entire alphabet, symbols, and function keys. The AFKPU keyboard is also designed to be easily customizable to any hand sizes with the initial key homing. Key zones will automatically relocate under each finger tips whenever the user touches the screen with all five fingers at the same time. The smartphone version shares the same concept and key map as the tablet version. But the user utilizes both thumbs to enter keys on key zones many times larger than traditional smartphone keyboards.
- Best balance between maximum key distinction and minimal physical effort: Each key registry motion is as distinct as possibly to avoid mistakes while still maintaining the minimal possible physical effort to type.
- Accurate and efficient one handed typing: Since all the keys are located directly under each finger tips, the fingers never move away from the home keys when typing. This not only eliminate the movements hand must make to find the next key but keeps fingers constantly in position and ready for the next key. Proficient AFKPU users could type accurately on touch screen even when blind folded.
- One hand access to ~285 individual characters, smilies, macros, or short-cuts: AFKPU uses the index finger to switch between Capitol case, Lower case, and Number case. There are also 3 more character cases that can be populated for the index finger switch.
- Fully customizable key map: AFKPU will be built to allow individuals to customize the key map at any time. Users could add their favorite characters, formulas or short-cuts whenever they want.
- Customizable graphical skins: AFKPU users will have the complete freedom to express themselves through their own AFKPU graphical designs or download popular graphical skins online.
- Saves screen space: AFKPU for tablet occupies only a corner of the valuable tablet screen space.
- Large key zones for smartphones: Individual key zones for AFKPU smartphone can be over 4 times larger than other smartphone keyboards. This makes it much easier for people with large fingers to type on smartphone screens.
Democratize development of AFKPU
We had worked on AFKPU since 2011 (patents pending 2011, 2013) when it was first conceived. We went through too many versions and variations. This made us realize we cannot fully utilize the concept by ourselves and we need to open up the development of AFKPU to everyone. We want to make it easy for everyone to modify any part of the AFKPU keyboard to suit their own needs. That is why we need your help to support us in creating not only the AFKPU keyboard App, but to create AFKPU Tools and Gallery where people could modify almost every aspect of AFKPU and share their modifications online. Imagine artists creating beautiful skins for AFKPU. Or people from all over the world modifying AFKPU keyboard into their own language. Or professionals create their unique AFKPU filled with macros and short-cuts commonly used in their industries. My own AFKPU keyboard is already filled with several programming and equation short-cuts that I could recall as easily as typing a single letter.
Detailed AFKPU instructions
- First, anchor the wrist comfortably on one corner of the tablet. Relax the fingers and let them drop down. Personalize the key zones by touch the screen with all 5 fingers at the same time.
- Type characters by either a tap or a stroke toward one of the four directions.
- Symbols and functions can be accessed by extending each finger out for a tap, or a stroke back.
- The thumb can tap in the space under the palm for "space" key or stroke up/down for two more symbols.
- To change the letter or number case, extend the index fingerto the side for a tap, or a stroke back.
- More key maps can be created and populated. The index finger side key zone is reserved for switching key maps.
Current development and goals
AFKPU is currently developed as an individual note taker, calendar, or demo App and it is not yet integrated into the Android or iOS systems. Our goal for this Kickstarter campaign is to raise enough resources to make an AFKPU keyboard App integrated directly into Android and iOS systems so that AFKPU keyboard can be used for data entry inside any App. We will also create web based AFKPU Tools and AFKPU Gallery so people could create, download, and share their own AFKPU creations with the world. Eventually, we plan to have a modified version of AFKPU Tools written into the AFKPU App so people could easily modify their AFKPU keyboard anywhere.
Questions and Answers (ongoing)
Q: Why is it called "AFKPU"?
A: Our key map is alphabetically arranged. The center tap key is the first letter and every 5 letters after that spells out A, F, K, P, U.
Q: Why can't the key map be arranged based on letters that's more widely used, like DVORAK?
A: There's two main reasons for that. First, learning a new key map is difficult enough even with an alphabetically arranged key map. Having key arrangements based on commonly used letters will create a key map that's many times more difficult for new users to learn. (i.e. try memorize "ABCDEFGHIJ..." vs. "EIDSYTCRJO..."). Second, we want AFKPU to be universal. Key arrangements optimized for English will make no sense for all the other languages out there (i.e. Italian, Korean, Hindu, etc.).
Q: How do I share or download new AFKPU mods?
A: We are currently working on making www.afkpu.com a one stop depository for all AFKPU mods with feature ratings for each individual mod uploaded by users. This depository should be online by the time the AFKPU keyboard is ready to be released.
Q: Do you plan to release the AFKPU keyboard for Windows?
A: Yes, eventually. We want to make the AFKPU keyboard available for every touch screen devices. But we currently have no experience in making App for Window based tablets or smartphones. We would appreciate any help from Microsoft to help us get started on that though.
Q: What is the long term goal for AFKPU?
A: We will continue to develop and promote AFKPU as an alternative touch screen keyboard to exist along side with QWERTY touch screen keyboard. We don't expect everyone to stop using QWERTY, but we are hoping to increase the exposure of AFKPU through the younger generation. Young people are still open to new data entry methods and more accepting of new technology. With the support of the global online community, we are preparing for the long game.
Q: What is Permanent Transferable Licensing Keys?
A: Reserved exclusively for Kickstarter backers, these licensing keys are permanent and transferable between devices. Owners of the Kickstarter backed Permanent Transferable Licensing Keys can have their AFKPU keyboard App forever and never worry about future costs for AFKPU.
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge for AFKPU is for the user to learn the new key map. AFKPU is currently alphabetically mapped so people could figure out the location of the next key as long as they know the alphabet song. But even with alphabetically positioned keys, I would imagine it will take some effort for new users to memorize all the keys.
We hope to overcome that challenge by democratizing the ongoing development of AFKPU. The public could modify the AFKPU keyboard that best suit individual needs and share their modifications in our online modification database. This makes the public the driving force toward making AFKPU more user friendly, versatile, and efficient. This collective developmental process not only gives individuals a sense of ownership toward their own AFKPU keyboard, but also greatly broadens the capability of AFKPU in ways that we could never dream of.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter