Google Patent for Touch Screen Keyboard

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I remember the 10th-grade keyboarding class in high school, which was a required course for everyone. I’ve typed a lot more characters than I ever expected in the days since, but I’ve been wondering how much longer people would be typing, or at least typing on a physical device intended just for typing. I’ve tried the “sliding” method of typing on my phone, with limited results. Hunt and peck still seem to work better for me, and I’m getting less “big finger” errors on my phone’s small virtual keyboard.

The Library of Congress calls this picture one of the first typewriter.

The picture above is from the “Bain Collection” at the US Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Reading Room. I’m not sure if it’s the very first typewriter, but that’s what’s printed on the image, and that’s what the Library of Congress is calling it. The Bain Collection contains images from one of the earliest news picture agencies. While looking through the pending patents from this week, I came across this patent filing for a touch screen keyboard, from Google. Are we seeing the last days of physical keyboards approaching?

The description and the patent application images show and describe something similar to a qwerty keyboard layout, likely much like the keyboard that you use with your desktop or laptop computer. Except instead of having the additional keys that a conventional keyboard might have to trigger additional characters, you would slide your fingers in different directions, as seen in the image from the patent filing below:

An image from the patent showing the layout of a touch screen keyboard

The pressing of another “button” would bring capital versions of letters, and the whole thing can switch over to numbers and symbols with the pressing of a different button:

An image from the patent showing the layout of a numeric keyboard

The patent filing also provides for a keyboard that might display a Dvorak keyboard layout, or a layout that includes other “keyboard variations specific to foreign languages, including but not limited to Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Hebrew.”

The patent application is:

Touch-Screen Keyboard Facilitating Touch Typing with Minimal Finger Movement
Invented by Sean Paul
Assigned to Google
Mountain View
US Patent Application 20130027434
Published January 31, 2013
Filed: September 26, 2011


A system, method, and computer-readable medium for using a touch-screen keyboard. A keyboard operation module generates geometric shapes for display on a touch-screen display, each geometric shape corresponding to a respective finger of a user. Each geometric shape includes characters at predefined locations around the perimeter of the geometric shape. The keyboard operation module detects a sliding movement of a finger in contact with the touch-screen display from inside a geometric shape and toward the perimeter of the geometric shape.

The keyboard operation module then determines that the sliding movement is in the direction of a particular character positioned around the perimeter of the geometric shape and selects the particular character for display in a text entry area of the touch-screen display.

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7 thoughts on “Google Patent for Touch Screen Keyboard”

  1. “Are we seeing the last days of physical keyboards approaching?” I think we were long overdue on this. Implementation onto mobile an tablets would be most convenient, but what’s interesting to see is how they’re going to do the same on laptops and desktops.

  2. Ò€œAre we seeing the last days of physical keyboards approaching?Ò€

    I don’t know that I could ever imagine it. Sure, on an iPhone or iPad it makes sense, as it saves a ton of room on the device for the screen. But on a desktop — which I’m currently typing on — I’m much more comfortable hacking away at these physical keys. Clearly in the mobile field we’ve basically already hit that point, but for desktops, I just don’t see it.

  3. Hello, I think the way things are going now, we will probably be using speech in the future, but it is amazing how we have gone from big typewriter to today’s technology..Who would’ve thought!

  4. Hi Bill
    We have moved to the new and smaller things over the years but I somehow miss crisper sound and smooth pressure my fingers have received from the big keys in these typewriters. We are still in the midway. Things like speech has started replacing the small keypads and that day would not be far when gadgets will start working by just reading our mind..;)
    Nice Article
    Maria Watson

  5. I agree with Michael, it would seem very weird typing on a desktop touch pad but hey a few years ago it would have been weird reading a book an a kindle so it may be easy to get used to it.

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