Saturday, January 28

There are those who have thought of making keyboards with the keys placed like crazy. It is a bad idea

The QWERTY layout keyboards They are far from perfect, but this distribution has become so commonplace that trying to work with another type of keyboard is a significant effort. People, yes, customize them to the fullest.

But there are also the most peculiar experiments with this keyboard, and a well-known Twitter user has tried to create one in which the layout of the keys had basically been decided with a “let’s see how they fall”. The result is an absolute mess that also makes us love QWERTY keyboards more than ever.

Kids, don’t do this at home.

Foone (@Foone) is well known for its continuous tributes to the technology of the past. His Twitter account is great especially for digital oldies, but on it he often narrates little adventures that are not only related to retro themes, but also ideas that he comes up with around various current technological trends.

One of the last had to do with keyboards. foone was wondering what would happen if one created a keyboard in which the keys were arranged randomly. To generate this layout, he used a curious physics simulator in which he combined those keys with a series of balls —which represent the spaces between the keys— and dropped them all together.

On that thread experimented with various parameters where he put together the number of balls and options that applied randomness to the design, and once found a “buildable” one They put the workers to work.

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The author of the experiment promised to share the design of the board (PCB) soon, but what he really wanted to highlight with humor is the great nonsense which is to create a keyboard like this.

There were no specific keys for the arrow keys, but it does support them if you press the function key and use the WASD keys that are commonly used in video games. As he said, doing something like that doesn’t make sense by the very random arrangement of those keys.

Foone had to rewrite the keyboard driver to support symbols like question marks, exclamation points, and punctuation, but he also recounted how key rotation had played tricks on him: he was constantly trying to press “Fn+6” to get a symbol, but it didn’t come out. Why? Because the “9” key was rotated and looked like a “6”.

For Foone this could even become an automated process that would allow you to have a “download a random layout” button and then order it from a manufacturer to produce the appropriate PCB.

The fact of not having a case and have the keys on the plate “raw” It doesn’t help much either, but just designing that case would obviously add more work to the whole project.

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There were two more problems, as this user confessed: there were no generic keys (he wanted a simple key with the “1”, not one with the “1” and the symbol “!”). Plus in the kit with the keys he bought there was no 1×1 key (not long) to use as a space bar.

The end result made writing a simple Twitter message take more than two minutes, but of course, he had to locate and hit each key. The thing was complicated with the symbols, and certainly watching him handle that “physically designed keyboard” is painful.


Why do something like that? One user used the famous quote from ‘Jurassic Park’ in which Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) said that “his scientists were so worried about whether or not they could do it that they didn’t stop to think about whether they should.” To which Foone answered who always ask him the same thing with his experiments “but I stopped to think if I should and decided against it. And I did it anyway“.

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