The QWERTY keyboard layout is ubiquitous in the English-speaking world, but it’s from another era entirely. Originally developed in the late 19th century to keep typewriter arms from jamming, it has little practical purpose on computers and touchscreens. We just use it because we’ve always used it. Alternatives have cropped up over the years, but none of them as completely alien as ASETNIOP seems to be. This is a new touchscreen keyboard being developed with tablets in mind.
This typing system has only 10 keys — one for each finger. The eight primary keys for the index through pinky fingers are combined in various ways to produce each letter of the alphabet. Each of the primary keys produces a single letter when pressed, spelling out ASETNIOP. These are the most commonly used letters in English words. Pressing two or more keys at once gets you the other letters. There are 28 so-called “chords” you’ll have to learn.
Combining all the chords with the thumb buttons for shift, enter, and space, and you can do everything we already do with QWERTY keyboards. Since ASETNIOP only uses ten keys, I could see it being quite efficient in theory. Still, why give up on good old QWERTY? The developers have some ideas about that.
Most people are taught how to touch type to some degree growing up, but that can be tough without tactile keys. Essentially, most users have to stare down at their hands while typing on a touchscreen QWERTY layout like the one used on the iPad. That’s not very efficient for doing large amount of typing or editing. ASETNIOP can be resized to fit your hands, and you don’t have to reach for any keys — it’s a simple up and down motion that doesn’t require your complete attention.
Initially, ASETNIOP shows suggestions and corrections, but as you improve that goes away. Eventually, the keys become invisible and you can reclaim your screen real estate even while typing. Users can supposedly get up to speed on ASETNIOP fairly quickly, but I don’t foresee myself changing anytime soon. If you want to try to wrap your brain around a new method of text input, you can try the web-based demo on your tablet of choice.
ASETNIOP via Dvice