The way we input text has remained the same for ages, and QWERTY keyboards were designed to make people type slowly—with typewriters.

Fast-forward to the present. We’ve already changed where we input text. A large portion of the planet is sending millions of messages a day, ordering take-out, choosing their next song to listen to, and purchasing items—all within a digital medium.

When we look at how everyone’s lives have changed in the last fifty years, technology has raced alongside us—facilitating new ways of interacting with the world. We’ve come to expect it.

Unfortunately, the keyboard hasn’t changed. Several attempts were made: notable examples being the chorded and DVORAK keyboards—but while both were proven to be more efficient, they had little mainstream success.
We weren’t ready to change something we’d just spent so long learning.

The switch from analogue to digital gives us the opportunity to re-define typing—with a greater chance of adoption due to the expectation and excitement around invention in the digital space.

Now we’ve changed how we input text.

Better from day one.

With 26 possible characters to hit, it’s easy to make mistakes. Apple and Google rely on complex error-correction algorithms to compensate for
mis-tapped keys—but each letter corresponds to one of twenty-six potential outcomes. With the English language being so complicated, there’s a lot of room for error. If you’ve ever had to cover up an auto-correct mistake, you can probably relate.

The only other option is reducing the possible errors we start with—thereby making the simpler algorithm more effective.

With the algorithms used by Apple, Google, Facebook, etc, every time a wrong key is hit, there are 26 possibilities of what that correct character could be.

With the layout of the KLOA keyboard, there’s only 6 possibilities for a correct character every time a wrong key is hit.

A touch interface, designed to be touched.

Devices with touch screens are designed for touch gestures. If we limit ourselves just to poking the screen, we’re reducing the capabilities gained through additional methods of interaction. We identified several principles that guided our product development.

1. Start with the familiar, presented in a different way.

People know that if they tap a key, it corresponds to a letter. By starting here, with users already comfortable using  the keyboard, it becomes easier to introduce new concepts associated with gestures.

2. The layout itself needs to introduce & promote gestures.

There needs to be enough of a difference from the QWERTY keyboard that users are open to new concepts. By reducing the keys from 26 to 10, users quickly see they’ll need a new way of accessing the other 16 letters in the alphabet.

With the most commonly-used letters accessed through taps, and the less commonly-used letters accessed through guestures—the user can type faster and more accurately than before.

By placing an emphasis on the most commonly-used keys, we can assign a higher level of probablility to them over less-commonly used keys—greatly reducing the number of potential letter / word matches in order to auto-correct properly.