STEM 1 - Cont.

Our STEM/STW (Scientific and Technical Writing) class is taught by Dr. Crowthers. This class focuses on research, reading technical documents, and writing technical reports. For STEM 1, we all chose our own independent research projects. My independent research project is about keyboards, and how they can be optimized for users missing certain digits.

Using a Mathematical Model to Personalize Keyboards for Users Missing Digits

Lay Description

⠀⠀⠀⠀The goal of this project was to optimize and create personalized keyboard layouts for different users who might be missing different digits. This was the focus because although there has been a plethora of research already on optimizing the keyboard layout in general, there hasn’t been as much of a focus on how those new layouts could be potentially used to benefit others, aside from maximizing typing speed. In addition, switching to a different keyboard layout causes a decrease in typing speed, and since virtually all computer activities require the keyboard, it can be slow and frustrating to learn. It can especially be frustrating for finger amputees, who must face the challenge of relearning daily tasks with fewer fingers, while still being required to do daily tasks. This project created a mathematical model that analyzed the typing speed on a given keyboard layout. It then rearranged keys and returned the best one. The results showed that by only rearranging a few keys (six or less) typing speed can be slightly increased (by 2 to 3 words per minute). However, the new layouts are also theoretically better to type on because they follow ergonomic criteria analyzed in previous studies. Overall, more research needs to be done, but there is potential for keyboards to become a form of assistive technology.

MSEF Project Proposal

me working on the project.

⠀⠀⠀⠀I chose to pursue this project because I was interested in keyboard layouts and typing. While originally I looked more at injuries such as carpal tunnel and trigger finger, I found finger amputations to be a field that should be considered, because a finger amputation is irreversible, while carpal tunnel and trigger finger can be treated. From previous research, it was clear that the Qwerty keyboard wasn’t the best keyboard layout. Because of this, not only did I want to explore how that could be improved, but also why we still use the Qwerty keyboard. In the end I settled on this project because it was a section of keyboard optimization not touched before, and thorough research would have the potential to change the lives of hundreds, if not more.

Mathematical Model Code

Project Notes

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