“Mommy, what’s a keyboard?”

Even with the explosion of the QWERTY keyboard being plastered on to almost every type of electronic device these days, I’m going to go out on a limb here-and-now to declare that the QWERTY keyboard will be obsolete within my lifetime.  This prediction is not limited to the keyboard device I’m using to type this article.  I’m referring to any type of letter based data input that takes the form of QWERTY.  The beginning of the end for QWERTY is not the Dvorak keyboard.  Nor is it speak [mis]recognition technology.  In my view, the signal of the end is technology such as predictive text input, search assistant and other peripherals.

Predictive text input is where an author enters the first couple of letters and then is presented with a word or list of words that most likely match the author’s intent.  The author keeps typing until the correct word appears, then accepts the entry.  On a cell phone number pad, each number represents 3 or 4 letters.  Predictive text input can quickly find the desired word, often with the push of only a couple of numbers.  In addition, more sophisticated systems will learn which words are most commonly used by the author and present those as first choices to the author.

With predictive text input, a person can drastically increase their typing capabilities.  I’ve seen individuals text with cell phone numeric pads faster than what is even possible on a smartphone QWERTY keyboard.  In fact, I would suggest that average wpm speeds of numeric pad texters with predictive text input even exceeds that of experienced typists on traditional full size keyboard devices.  That’s not hyperbole, and I’m not kidding.

Search assistant is similar to predictive text input, except a little more sophisticated and low key.  Competing peripherals have a lot more buttons than they used to.  Function keys are slowing being replaced by clicks on buttons on devices such as the mouse.

All combined, the QWERTY keyboard’s current Golden Age will be over soon enough.

Author: fcsuper

As a drafter, mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I've been in the mechanical design field since 1991. For the first 8 years of my career, I was an AutoCAD professional. I utilized AutoLISP and many other AutoCAD customization features to streamline drafting activities for 6+ drafters and designers. I authored several custom functions, one of which was published in the March 1997 issue of Cadalyst Magazine. Since 1998, I've been used SolidWorks non-stop. I've worked to utilize the SolidWorks' user environment to simplify drafting and design activities for 20+ engineers. I've created this website to provide current information about SolidWorks from a variety of contributors. More recently, I am now employed by Dassault Systemes as SOLIDWORKS Sr. Product Definition Manager to improve drawing, annotation and MBD related areas.

5 thoughts on ““Mommy, what’s a keyboard?””

  1. Hmm well nice idea. And could possibly happen. That’s not to say its a good thing (since when is the there strike rate of attachment of good/worthy things these days??).

    I’m not sure i’d agree with your about your phone txt’ers typing faster then a typist on a full k/b. You must only know slow typists! I’ve seen people to in excess of 120wpm and there is no way a phone jockey, even with predictive, can do that.. it just doesn’t flow like a full size k/b does!

    Hell on a good day i can do 70 to 80wpm on a QWERTY and i’m a shyte typist compared to the skilled ones. And that’s honking to most people!

    With some really thoughtful and skilled programing i agree that it will most likely overtake QWERTY kb’s as we know them. Would this be better? Hmm debatable.. And it’d only over take them because most people are to lazy to do things the properly skilled way (look how many people send SMS’s that rarely have a full word spelt anyway .. just because “everyone’s doing it” doesnt make it good!)

    Interesting topic fc! And interesting to see how things go in the future.. its always interesting to talk about. 🙂

  2. HoffY, I figured someone would bite on my bold comments. 🙂 From my experience, most QWERTY typers cannot get over 50. Many people aren’t even learning how to “type” anymore and just use their index fingers. Experienced individuals can push 120, but that’s not common. I’ve seen kids who grow up texting that able to type just as fast as I am in this comment, and with less corrections of typos. I was amazed until I realized that sort of speed is commonplace now. Granted, they aren’t typing novels using this method, but I don’t really see why they couldn’t. 🙂

  3. Good prediction. I hope it comes true.

    On a side bar, have you ever typed in OpenOffice? It, on a much smaller level, already does a little bit of the predictive text you mentioned.

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