GKOS Keyboard - FAQ
Why only 6 keys?
The wireless devices are getting really small ! With a 3-finger
wide keypad, it is possible to keep also the size of the keyboard small
enough. The minimum space requirement for the GKOS keypad is about 4 x
2,5 cm on the back. That is not much and still the character set can
provide all QWERTY functions in a logical and user friendly way. In
addition, the pinky fingers can help in supporting the device and the
thumbs remain ready for the pointer control. In fact, you are
using the six nimblest fingers of yours when typing on GKOS. Had you always been typing on
only and then suddenly saw a QWERTY for the first time, you would
probably be frightened away by all those hundred buttons in random
across the 0,5 meter wide board.
But isn't chording difficult?
Depends heavily on the design. With two-hand chording and only
keys per hand, the chords are very few (4) and not at all difficult.
Single-hand chording traditionally leads to more than 50 chords and
of them are very complicated. - You probably are using a
QWERTY keyboard with the same amount of two-hand chording as you need
for the GKOS while typing letters, punctuation and numbers. With
you need to press the SHIFT key for capitals and some
characters with the other hand while you press a single key with
other. Sometimes you even press three simultaneous keys:
Ctrl+Alt+Del etc. With GKOS, you do a similar thing by
the meaning of the three single keys on one side by pressing a shift
(one out of three) on the other side. The shift is mostly two adjacent
keys which is not physically more difficult than pressing one key. It
required more often than with QWERTY but, on the other hand, it is
always readily available under your fingers. You do not need a shift
every character, so letters A to F and numbers 1 to 6 are just single
I do not think I can learn all the symbols...
Well I did! And you do not have to worry. Typing can start immediately.
It is the intention that there is a virtual keyboard visible on the
display (or on a separate card) at the beginning, and also available
later if required. The alphabet was specifically designed so that a
compact virtual keyboard is possible for this purpose -
instead of those long lists of symbols common to traditional chordic
keyboards - and, inevitably, you will learn the letters so
that it all becomes automatic and you won't need help any more. Then
do not have to keep watching the display either. Just produce and type!
Even in the dark.
How fast can you type on GKOS?
Pretty soon, just after learning the idea of GKOS, you'll type faster
than you do on the multi-tap number pad common with cellular phones. It
is easy to reach a speed of 100 characters per minute (100 chr/min = 20
wpm) with some practicing. When fully familiar with the system, a speed
of 200 chr/min (40 wpm) is obtained. Final expert typing speeds can be
around 300 chr/min (60 wpm). My personal record is 250 characters in a
test of typing ordinary text for one minute (50 wpm) and normally I
about 200 chr/min on GKOS which can be considered to be the speed of a
good common QWERTY typist.
Why not use Braille alphabet?
Braille code (raised dots code) can still be used for text entry with
the 6 GKOS keys when activated by e.g. a special control sequence!
Unfortunately, having not been designed for computers, Braille does not
suit well for replacing the whole QWERTY on a PC. The alphabet design
had to be started from scratch but the result was better than expected:
Letters are more logically in alphabetical order. The groups of 3
letters is a familiar concept to cellular users. There is room for
national characters on equal basis compared to the basic Latin
Unintentional activation of major functions is avoided by having more
simultaneous keys in them than in frequently used characters. This
design rule also makes typing lighter. There is
resemblance in many letters to their visual appearance (7, 9, J, P, Q,
R, T, Y etc.). Navigating (cursor movement, space and backspace) is
supported in a self-evident way! The shift concept (shift on one side,
one key on the other, i.e. 2 + 1 keys) makes it possible to have
simple, small enough, virtual keyboard on the display while learning
system - not feasible before.
GKOS has not been patented. Why is that?
It was decided to publish the method as soon as possible (October the
5th, 2000) to enable manufacturers implement it. It is the end user who
benefits the most from a harmonized keyboard. The learned skill can be
used all across the products of different brands providing this kind of
keyboard - like the QWERTY on desktops and laptops.
How is GKOS
The GKOS keyboard scanning techinque has developed a lot since the
prototypes (GKOS spec, Annex 3). It is now
possible to type more freely allowing overlap of
successive characters, and it is not even necessary to release common
between letters. All this minimises errors and increases the maximum
possible. Also, shortcuts have been introduced. Complete words
(hundreds of them!) can be typed by entering just one or two symbols.
new features are fully compatible with the basic method of GKOS typing.
Some keyboard implementations (like the small 'GKOS matchbox') can have
just 3 keys instead of 6. There are many choices for those who want to
build a GKOS keyboard of
their own at http://www.gkos.net .
Android and iPhone applications
are now available (2010) according to the GKOS Thumbs method. You can
use one or two hands. No chord charts or memorizing of chords are
needed. Every character is shown on the key to be pressed. Just start
typing and realize how chording works.
Seppo Tiainen, 21 March 2003
Last paragraph added 2 December 2004 and edited 7 January 2005 (GKOS
matchbox) and 27 April 2005.
Last paragraph updated to include GKOS Thumbs for iPhone and Android,
Sept 27, 2010.
keyboard typing speed - chordic keyboard typing speed - chord keyboard
typing speed - combination keyboard typing speed - multipress keyboard