back to article Come and Twiddle Tek Gear's one handed keyboard

Over the years a plethora of keyboard alternatives have crossed the El Reg hardware desk, but none has had the utility, or longevity, of the Handykey Twiddler. This third incarnation has been a decade in the making, and arrived a year late, but with small hands and a willingness to learn it could make wearable computing …

  1. Ashton Black

    Voice..

    I'm not so sure that this will get very far. The trade off in learning a new input style compared with the ease of voice. Which since the likes of Siri and Google Now, has come a LONG way. I use google now a lot.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Voice..

      I use Google a bit, and Siri quite a lot - and they're OK. But still make lots of mistakes that you then have to correct with fat fingers, and fiddly (and particularly crap on phones) attempts to get the cursor in the right place. One of the major points for me would be to avoid having to get my reading glasses out, but it makes so many errors that it still needs to be properly checked for anything other than a short text message.

      Add even a bit of noise into the environment and speech recognition goes crap. Just having the TV on, or even the road noise from the office window behind me defeats Siri.

      You can't use voice in a meeting either. Without being really anti-social. Or in a crowded office or train. So even if (probably when) you can fix the problems above, this is the major issue. Other people can hear your voice. Politeness should put the kibosh on universal voice recognition.

      That leaves us with keyboards of some description or pen input for text.

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

        "politeness should put the kibosh on universal voice recognition"

        SHOULD, but probably won't. For example *...

        * Yes, that's a commercial but it's a) not that far from the truth and b) what most of us would really like to see happen to such jerks.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Happy

          Re: "politeness should put the kibosh on universal voice recognition"

          Ugotta B. Kiddingme,

          Nice post. That made me laugh. Have an upvote!

          Your cynical assumption of lack of politeness and mutual respect is of course true. However a lack of faith in human nature cuts both ways. Anyone voice-typing a business email in public near me, may be surprised by the number of times phrases such as 'donkey penis' appear in their text - something which may discourage them from being so anti-social in future.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Voice..

      When I'm on a roll, I can touch-type prose text as fast as I can speak it clearly, and I know a number of other people for whom that's true. I have little use for voice input even if the recognition were perfect.

      Other users, of course, have other requirements.

      1. SkippyBing

        Re: Voice..

        'When I'm on a roll, I can touch-type prose text as fast as I can speak it clearly, and I know a number of other people for whom that's true.'

        On a good day I can do that and hold a conversation. On a bad day I end up transcribing the conversation...

  2. Ken 16
    Meh

    It sounds like a dead end to me.

    One company, one proprietary product with a high price and a steep adoption curve. I'm sure it's wonderful for those who've made the investments involved but I can't see it breaking through to every office.

    1. fruitoftheloon
      Thumb Up

      @Ken: Re: It sounds like a dead end to me.

      Ken,

      I was most interested in this - until I saw the price...

      For reference I use an Apple Adjustable keyboard as most normal shaped keyboards do not agree with my wrists (RSI damage aeons ago..)

      J

      1. Vector

        Re: It sounds like a dead end to me.

        Yeah, when they get the price down to around US$30 (preferably lower), they might have something.

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: It sounds like a dead end to me.

          It's crying out for a 3d-printed clone.

  3. David Lewis 2

    Left Handed?

    So the Velcro strap can be reconfigured for left handed use, but can the button assignments (and the key tops) also be reconfigured for left handed configuration?

    I'm assuming the key layout has been optimised for chording and usage frequency. If they are not reconfigurable it would mean that a left handed user would be at a disadvantage.

    Mind you, given that this is an entirely new device, a "lefty" could actually learn to use it with their right hand, leaving their dominant hand free for writing etc.

    All that is required now is to incorporate an "air mouse" to replace two devices in one.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Left Handed?

      The article says the keys can be reconfigured. At least to some extent, so I'd imagine you will be able to reverse them for left handedness. Although I'd be surprirsed if you can change the labels. But then you can't see the keys in use anyway.

    2. Notenoughnamespace

      Re: Left Handed?

      The Twiddler has a stick built into the top, so does replace both devices.

      Most people apparently chose to use it with their off hand, for exactly that reason, though personally I'm happy to drink coffee with my left while Twiddling with my right.

    3. sgb

      Re: Left Handed?

      As a guitarist, I'd be more inclined to use my left. They missed a trick, too. If they had four rows of buttons they could usher in a new era of virtuoso banjo players.

      Perhaps we've dodged a bullet there.

      1. LaeMing

        Re: Left Handed?

        I use an Infogrip BAT chorded keyboard quite a bit (typing this on my work one right now!). I purchased left-handed ones because I like my dominant hand free for the trackball. And the style of trackball I preferr (thumb-on-ball) only comes in right-handed anyway.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    one handed keyboard?

    did somebody say porn?

  5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    I am looking at the angle of those fingers

    And I see a 3 letter abbreviation - RSI.

  6. JimmyPage
    FAIL

    It's 1980

    or thereabouts. And a British boffin unveils a device to allow you to enter data into a computer using one hand - an alternative to typing (which scared people for some reason).

    Time has erased the name, but I am sure other El Reg readers can help

    1. AIBailey

      Re: It's 1980

      Microwriter? I remember that being shown on Tomorrows World.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microwriter

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's 1980

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maltron ?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: It's 1980

          "Ooooh, Maltron!".

          Carry on, carry on.

        2. JimmyPage
          Happy

          Re: It's 1980

          Not the Maltron (but thanks for the link)

        3. AIBailey

          Re: It's 1980

          RE: Maltron. I used to do desktop support had had one user with RSI that used a Maltron keyboard (never knew what it was called until I checked the Wikipedia link posted today) along with a track pad. They were left handed too and had the trackpad buttons reversed.

          Doing any kind of support for them required an extreme amount of concentration. Even something as simple as creating and renaming a folder then dragging a file across was an exercise in patience!

      2. JimmyPage
        Thumb Up

        Re: It's 1980

        That's the badger !

      3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        Re: It's 1980

        I had an AgendA - once you learned the chords it was quick and fairly easy to use. Certainly no harder than typing on a tiny keyboard (whether that be a 1980s one with plastic buttons or a modern touch screen). Not only did the AgendA work as a PDA (quite well actually), it could be used as a keyboard for a desktop via a serial cable.

  7. Andy E
    Coffee/keyboard

    Rather expensive

    I can pick up a new keyboard and mouse for just the shipping fee!

    Seriously though, I think the high cost and learning curve will put most people off.Voice recognition is making progress and keyboards are so cheap. Having said that, I would be interested in something which was more efficient and required less desk space but it would need to be priced at or near prices of keyboards.

    I've never tried Google Glass but I would imagine that if the screen was projected onto the glasses lense and you could type with the Twiddler, then you could get some work done on the bus, train, cafe.

    Just a thought.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Looks like a cheap TV clicker for the price of a nice mechanical keyboard.

    If I want a one-handed keyboard I'll go with an old DIY idea of mine - the guitar keyboard... a ~7x7 matrix of metal strings and frets, plenty of combinations, little need for chording, good tactile feedback. I wonder if anyone anyone's done that yet...

    1. LaeMing
      Happy

      Pluck to type. Strum to spam.

  9. JimmyPage

    Since we're talking of alternative inputs methods ...

    (well I was)

    I give you Sip'n'Puff (although I recall it as POSSUM)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sip-and-puff

    interesting to speculate if this could be bought into the modern smartphone/tablet age ...

  10. DropBear
    Facepalm

    So...

    ...they made a keyboard roughly the size of those miserably useless smartphone keyboards, only much harder to use...? Awesome!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Old age

    Tried curling my fingers as per the picture - most uncomfortable.. Not a device for people without supple joints. When using a conventional keyboard the fingers are only slightly bent.

    1. David Given

      Re: Old age

      For me, that posture's the natural curl of the hand in its relaxed position, or when holding the shaft of my joystick[*].

      I've been looking for a chording keyboard for ages, ever since seeing an advert for the Quinkey in 1984 (http://www.naec.org.uk/artefacts/hardware/quinkey); I'm very conscious that my entire income is dependent on my ability to fend off RSI, and I'd love a text entry mode which allows me to rest one hand. But not 175 pounds looking.

      [*] You're welcome to whatever mental image you like here, but the one *I'm* talking about is my Logitech Wingman flight stick. WHICH I USE TO PLAY KSP WITH, GODDAMMIT.

  12. Greg J Preece

    I'd be tempted to give it a go. I'd looked into other chordboards previously as a method to relieve the damage done to my aching wrists by years of programming (apparently they can help - no dodgy desk resting positions, etc). What I'm wondering is - if it's Bluetooth connected, could you up your chording speed by holding one in each hand? ;-)

  13. Richard Scratcher

    I've got an older version of one of these...

    ...somewhere.

    I've always liked the idea of the Microwriter and bought a Twiddler many years ago. It was not multi-platform and so I abandoned it. Dog knows where it is now.

    I'd buy one of these to help me with my accounts, where I need to type details from stacks of receipts into a spreadsheet. At the moment I use voice recognition software but that's not 100% reliable (e.g. "for pound 50" instead of "£4.50").

    A Twiddler would let me pick up each receipt to read it and type in the details at the same time.

    Why does it have to be so for king expensive? Probably because it's a niche market. :-(

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