The AEIOU Keyboard Model

[KBD]

Why Keyboards are Terrible

Keyboards are probably the most common tools we use nowadays. But also, their design is completely abhorrent. Despite the years we have spent improving our lives with conveniences, despite all our efforts to simplify technology, all of it is in vain because it is laid on a foundation that looks like this:

Look at this. It's a complete mess. The lettering is all over the place, the names of the keys don't make sense, and there are keys that no human has ever touched once.

It looks like it was designed completely at random. Almost no research was done to make this. Famously, the story goes that the very first row - the famous "QWERTY" - was made to make typing said word look easy for people who weren't familiar with typewriters. That's it - it was designed to make typing one word easy.

The design also doesn't take the hundreds of non-english speaking countries into account. In some countries, certain letter combinations are used extremely often, while in english, they are used very little or not at all. Most european keyboards use the exact same layout except for small changes "stitched" on top of the already horrid design, creating a tool that is barely comprehendable.

There are keys that no human has ever touched. They are mostly leftovers from the "programming" era of computers, when keyboards looked like this:

Most of the keys we have on our modern keyboards are completely unnecesarry. They are used for an extremely occasional programming fix or by specific programs that require them. Most of the time, they just take up space. "Return", "Page up", "Page down", "Home", "End". All these keys are designed for easing the experience of typing, yet almost every single person I have met that does a lot of typing and text editing for their work has never even touched them. A similar thing applies to the "F1", "F2", "F3"... keys. They are used for around three shortcuts. And then they just sit there, taking up yet more space. Whatever function these buttons are meant to perform, it's been buried. My solution is to add several buttons that are easily "reprogrammable" - to have it easily editable what said button is supposed to do. Maybe you're tired of pressing a certain button combination or you want it to have a specific function like the "Return" key. A much more pleasing alternative than the current barrage of buttons the keyboard consists of.

The names of the buttons don't make things easier either. They also seem to be completely nonsensical. "CTRL" and "ALT" do basically the same function but have radically different, mostly unpronouncable names. What is the key that enlrages the letters called? SHIFT. I don't know why. What is the key that shifts between different parts of the program called? TAB. I don't know why. Why is the key that permanently enlarges letters called? SHIFT LOCK? No, no, it's CAPS LOCK. I don't know why. Why is CONTROL sometimes shortened to CTRL but CAPS LOCK is always written in full? I don't know.

And some of these keyboards change tiny details, like replacing the TAB key with two arrows or changing the Printscreen key to sometimes PRTSCR, sometimes PRTSC, sometimes just a picture of scissors. As if the design itself wasn't confusing enough.

Lastly, another great problem is huge difference between the QWERTY (US/UK) and QWERTZ (Europe) keyboard design. The design used in english-speaking countries (QWERTY) includes completely different characters from the european ones. While the english keyboard model focuses on symbols used in offices like $ and useful symbols for accounting or programming - < >, { }... - the european keyboards mainly focuses on diacritics and has most keys that aren't basic letters spread out in a completely different manner. This makes it almost impossible to program on a european keyboard layout.

A proper keyboard should have a universal basis and should be easy to understand for everyone. A well-designed, universal piece of technology can be understood in any country, by any age or social group. Based on what I wrote thus far, I believe this is not the case, possibly the opposite even - and I'm not surprised that so many people prefer mobile phones.

My Solution

There have been several attempts throughout history to target these issues - most popular was the Dvorak keyboard model, still used by some today. But it only tackles the letter layout of the keyboard, not the fundamentals I already talked about. It's not just letter arrangement that needs to be fixed - most keys should be removed. My solution is: the AEIOU keyboard model.

I have removed the many unnecesarry keys and stripped the model down to the bare essentials and basics. The key positioning is much more streamlined. You are less likely to accidentally press the windows key or encounter many daily keyboard "mistakes" we get now. It is only a prototype. I am not a keyboard expert, and some change could probably be done with this model, but it is a vast improvement over the inane nonsense we have on keyboards now. My dream is to make that happen one day.


Unlike the rest of this website, the content on this page is licensed under the following license: CC0 1.0 Universal with the exception of the Space Cadet keyboard image, which is used under CC-BY-SA.