English Keyboard

How do we handle our digital keepsakes?
Personal | 2020
Solo project
Is language impacted by the machines we use to produce it?  Why do we choose the words we do? If we design a keyboard around English language as it exists now, could we change its nature? Would spelling become easier?  Would we choose other words?

Developing the Concept

To do this, I thought of the keys a bit like a word search, steeped in potential associations. I sought to craft my keyboards around those associations, changing the area to weight for letter frequency and creating a layout based on language patterns. To collect the necessary data, I primarily drew from Peter Norvig’s analysis for Google using Mark Mayzner’s earlier work applied to a Google Books database, with support for Michael Dicken’s work to understand how other characters fit in. In selecting sources, it was important their surveys used written English, not dictionary English (so commonly used words carried more weight).

In creating my layouts, I chose not to add all standard keys to the keyboard, instead focusing on those essential to written English communication. Then I used the patterns discovered to experiment with layouts based on relationship frequency, left to right patterns, and location of letters in a word. Though I initially sized keys directly proportionate to usage, after testing I adjusted for a minimum key size to increase ease of typing.
Keyboard 1
Beginning letters to end letters
Letters prioritized by where they most commonly fall in a word. Common blends considered secondarily.
Prototype (3d printed)
Keyboard 2
Maximizing letter blends
Grouped to create as many common letter blends as possible, regardless of letter order or placement.
Keyboard 3
Letter blends
left to right
Grouped to put as many common letter blends in left to right order, with word placement a secondary characteristic.