Aiding Text Entry of Foreign Alphabets with Visual Keyboard Plus

Rennie, L. and Cockburn, A.

    Computer keyboards are used to input hundreds of different languages using many different alphabets. Despite this diversity, the physical layout of keyboards is fairly uniform, with keyboards generally containing approximately 80 keys spread across six rows (excluding cursor keys and numberpad). In English speaking countries, the QWERTY layout is the de-facto standard binding between the physical location of keys and the corresponding letters of the alphabet. To aid international and multi-lingual computer use, operating systems allow users to alter bindings between physical keys and resultant characters, but this raises a problem for users as the labels on the physical keys will not match those of the bindings. Software user interfaces such as Microsoft's Visual Keyboard (MVK) help users by providing a visual depiction of the keyboard's new bindings, but users still suffer an overhead in establishing the mapping between the physical and displayed keys. This paper describes a comparative analysis and empirical evaluation of three alternative techniques for helping users input non-standard alphabets using a standard keyboard. In particular we investigate whether our VKPLUS (Visual Keyboard Plus) user interface, which displays both the physical key labels and the new keybindings, improves text entry rates over Microsoft's Visual Keyboard. The third technique, included for baseline comparison, uses sticky-labels placed over the physical keyboard. Results show that VKPLUS improves performance over Microsoft's system.
Cite as: Rennie, L. and Cockburn, A. (2005). Aiding Text Entry of Foreign Alphabets with Visual Keyboard Plus. In Proc. Sixth Australasian User Interface Conference (AUIC2005), Newcastle, Australia. CRPIT, 40. Billinghurst, M. and Cockburn, A., Eds. ACS. 119-125.
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