Author Options:

Alternative to keyboard Answered

On top is a joystick like an NES joystick. It registers 8 different directions: up, down, left, right, and the in-betweens of those and is controlled by the thumb. Then there are 4 buttons, one for each finger. The joystick replaces the trackpad of a laptop and hopefully is also 'clickable'  to act as a 'left click button. I'm not sure what would do the right click button.

Combinations of button presses and joystick directions would replace the keys on a keyboard.

I only have the use of my right hand. I initially thought of this as a device for handicapped people like myself, but it would also be good for people lying in bed. The concept maybe could be made into a cell phone case with physical buttons that would allow people to text without looking at their phones.

The device is a lot like the nintendo wi remote, but not quite. Maybe a wii remote could be hacked to make a prototype. I wouldn't know how to do that and I wouldn't know how to program it, that's why I'm posting, to see if someone could tell me what kind of skills/knowledge would be needed to make this idea happen. Any suggestions or offers to help are welcome. Thank you!


About keyboard layout

I have an alternative solution. It is based on traditional keyboard.
Do you know that it is possible to change keyboard layout? It means that you can make any key calls any command.
My suggestion is.
1. Find out which keys of the standard keyboard are convenient for one-hand use. For example, you can keep your pointer finger on F key and your ring finger on J key. But it is just an example. What keys are easy to operate by one hand? We will name them "active keys".
2. Then we will make an alternative layout to make the active keys call alternative commands. For example to make key F call command Q.
3. You will print stickers for all active keys. Each sticker will have two (or more) letters. One letter for the traditional layout, another for the alternative one.

How does it work?
If you need to type a letter which is easy to reach, you switch layout to "normal" and type.
If you need to type a letter which is difficult to reach, you switch layout to "alternative" and type.
Also, you may use a short press for normal and a long press the alternative layout.

I mean smth like that http://half-qwerty.com/ But it costs too much!

I am sure it is no difficult to convert ordinary keyboard to the "half-qwerty" by software.

A bit more google and I found a way how to convert QWERTY to one-hand keyboard http://www.frogpad.com/

I think it is a good idea for an Open Source project.

Also, I see two main tasks:

Hardware+software prototyping and ergonomic prototyping. We can do them separately.

I believe, the ergonomic prototyping is a key task. The project will have a sense if we could imagine a tool which could be more convenient than the traditional keyboard.

The device could help people with poor vision or limited finger mobility/arthritis. Think of how typing for extended peiods of time can lead to pain/carpal tunnel.
Assuming it were easy enough to learn, it may also appeal to 'hunt and peck' typists that never learned to touch type. I learned touch typing before I lost the use of my left hand and just the knowledge of knowing where each letter key is on the keyboard lets me still type at least as fast or faster than both my parents.
Touch typing frees up your eyes. How many car wrecks might be prevented had a person not been looking at their phone to text? The device would also be much smaller than a typical keyboard. The technology could be made to fit anywhere you could fit your hand. For example, a glove, a steering wheel, a bicycle handlebar, a larger stylus for a tablet.
It may seem like a hard sell in an age of such good speech to text software, but that technolgy could be incorporated by adding a mic. And besides, it's not always polite or possible to use voice to text in social situations.
Of course it would have bluetooth connectivity, and why not a headphone jack so you wouldnt be bound to your computer by the length of your headphone jack.
The idea, like the cykey, would be a rehash of Cy Enfields original 6 button microwriter, but the joystick would replace one of the buttons. Since his had 6 buttons, I guess my original design may need changed to add an extra button on top by the joystick.
The device would be basically a cylinder with a joystick on top, The user wraps their fingers around as they would the hilt of a sword. That being the case, the user may be able to push two buttons per finger, one with the fingertip and one with the 3rd joint of the finger, without moving any fingers. The thumb could probably also operate 3 separate thumb buttons on top of the device in front of the joystick while still navigating by touch. What the function of those extra buttons would be, I dont know, either additional characters like punction, or they could be user defined. I'm glad you like the idea Glumgad!

Cykey is an interesting device, I've never heard about it before.

By the way, I've met some open source projects about it. For example https://chorder.cs.vassar.edu/doku.php?id=spiffchorder:forside

This is so close to what I imagine the device to look like: https://www.amazon.com/VR-Controller-Gamepad-Bluetooth-Control/dp/B01NAPASM1/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1512008853&sr=8-4&keywords=vr+remote+control It just needs the buttons moved around and yes, the software. I didn't know the Open Source website was a thing. I'll definitely check it out. I thought you just meant that the code should be open source. I just realized what you meant. Good tip! This could also be a good solution to the need for a keyboard for VR headsets.

About the RC controller.

I have no my own experience with this device, but I have a thing, which looks quite similar.
It is RC for smart TV. It also has TouchPad and a number of buttons.
I think it was designed to work by thumb, not fingers! As a result, it will be not convenient for your purpose.


I totally forgot about the idea of combining button presses with the 8 different joystick directions to change the function of the buttons. That would allow the device to register 479,001,600 different combinations of input presses. Should be plenty even without the extra buttons.

I had a good time thinking about your problem and how to solve it.
Not sure if you like the idea but here is what I came up with:
Use Go fund me, Kickstarter or Indiegogo to create a nice project page.
Use your ideas and ask for some nice volunteers to join the good cause of developing first prototypes.
Predictive text, multiple input options - whatever will suit the individual!
Am quite certain an idea like your will take off very quick and might even have good commercial potential.

Thank you! That is so encouraging to hear! I suppose I would need a protoype before creating a crowdfunding campaign. Is that how it works?

Not really.
You can start from scratch, just with a good idea.
Once money comes in (pre-orders, donations...) you start building something.
If you already have something "to play with" then use it to show your idea behind it.
Maybe an ad in your local papers to seek volunteers to build your prototype could help too.
You could be lucky and some tech experts jump on the wagon once it is rolling with a campaing on the funding websites.

Just found this windows program that lets you remap controller keys, not to find which controller it works with and find the best one to physically modify. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmcR_UbDZ28

Ideally I'd like to have a prototype and a decent video, but I see now that isn't really necessary to the rules of kickstarters. I wonder how many kickstarters never complete their project. I met one guy that did a kickstarter for a vaccuum tube solar cooker. He didn't invent it. he didn't improve it. He just raised money to buy a bunch of them from China. I don't know how he ever did with reselling them...Hopefully at least the people that donated to his campaign got one. I don't know if you read my comment to glumgold so I'll say to you too, the device would be a lot like what a VR controller already is, and would give VR headset users an option of a physical keyboard.

"Keyboards" for the handicapped exitst.
Up to the point of controlling a couroe with eye movement and using your breath to set the trigger.
Problem is maiking it suit everyone in need and even worse, making it work properly with existing hardware.
If you think PC then you need a dedicated driver so the input is used as keys or movement.
Of course this would also require some sort of on screen keyboard to be visible to check and confirm what is happening.
#Since you are handicapped you already know the downsides of normal keyboards and the one finger search motion to find the right key to press.
Now imagine doing the same with only a few buttons and motions - you need to know where you are and what you re doing, so you need some feedback.

I believe the eye keyboard was invented for ALS patients. I think by Swiftkey... Which is the app I use on my phone!

I use swiftkey. It is awesome! Wow, swift key plus eye tracking would be a game changer for disabled people's communication. Imagine how much easier Steven Hawking's life would have been if he had that. At least communicationwise.

Actually he does have that. I just read about it. I don't think it has the slide/swyping input like the phone version but it does have the prediction engine.

I just figured out a can switch keyboard layouts in the settings. There's a DVORAK right handed option. Awesome. Now I'll just have to get used to it.

Yes, you would need to check your input on a screen. Such a device would take a lot of work. Probably a better solution for me would be to change the keyboard layout of a normal keyboard. I can reach 26 keys with my right hand while keeping my fingers on the home keys. If I could make it where, for example, the 'j' key was also the 's' key , then I might not even have to use the left side of the keyboard. It would be similar to t9 typing on a phone, except it could be up to t26 typing. Thanks for the reply Downunder35m.

I made a rough sketch of the device and of a hand holding it.

Screenshot 2017-11-26 at 6.09.49 PM.png