A new optimal and ergonomic Turkish keyboard from Boğaziçi University

The First Scientific Turkish Keyboard for Touch Typing: E Keyboard

Boğaziçi University has developed an optimal and ergonomic keyboard for Turkish: The E-keyboard. It was developed considering the touch- typing principles, which enables users to write faster as well as offers advantages for the comfort and health of users. 

The keyboard is the work of a scientific team under the leadership of Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mahmut Ekşioğlu of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Boğaziçi University. The Turkish E-Keyboard, which was developed after three years of hard-work, was supported by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) and the developers are currently working to secure a patent for their innovation.

Dr. Ekşioğlu said, ”The most important design criterion of a keyboard is the placement of the keys on the keyboard. So the principal idea for the study was to seek the ergonomic placement of the letters on te keyboard so that typing would be fast as well as healthy and comfortable. The optimal placement of keys increases the writing performance of the users as well as provides healthier and more comfortable typing.”

Dr. Ekşioğlu continued, ”The optimal and ergonomik placement of the letters requires the distribution of typing load on the fingers and hands with respect to their capacities, minimizing the elapsed-time for the successive finger motions, considering the letter and digraph frequencies of the respective language, and also considering the touch-typing principles. For the purpose, the laboratory experiments were conducted on people of different ages to determine the finger tapping rates of each of eight fingers. In another experiement, the elapsed times between two successive key presses were measured for the same and different finger pairs. The frequencies of the letters and digraphs in Turkish were estimated." 

Dr. Ekşioğlu continued, “These data were inputted to the novel multi-objective optimization model we developed. The solution of the model generated 152 different keyboard arangement possibilities. We picked the most promising three of them and tested them to compare with the Turkish F- and Q-keyboard arrangements for performance and comfort. Thanks to a glove developed to measure tendon movements, E-keyboard proved to be the most Turkish-user friendly as it allows users to use less tendon movements while typing. As it is known fact that excessive tendon movements increase the risk of hand and wrist injuries, E-keyboard is healthier than F- and Q-keyboards. Speed tests and a comparison with respect to Dvorak keyboard design principles favored E keyboard over F and Q keyboards.”

Ekşioğlu said that researchers have been studying to develop a more ergonomic and optimal keyboard layouts for many languages in the world and added that none of the keyboards that have been developed so far are based on objective ergonomic data. E-Keyboard, perhaps, is the most scientific keyboard in the world for now. Most importantly, we developed a methodology that can easily be used to generate optimal-ergonomic keyboard layouts for many other world languages such as English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Italian.

Regarding to Turkish F-keyboard, Dr. Ekşioğlu commented as follows: “F Keyboard is the first Turkish keyboard developed according to 1950s Turkish and without any visible scientific methodology. It was not based on a mathematical optimization nor any scientifically valid experimentation. It appears that it was developed by using some of the principles of Dvorak keyboard design and by trial and error methodology. Although that, our validation test results indicated that F is better than Q layout.