Windows Phone fan site WMPoweruser has got hold of a photo said to show a one-handed next gen soft keyboard designed by Microsoft. The picture shows an HTC smartphone displaying a soft keyboard that is curved to match the arc of the thumb’s reach. The example in the screenshot looks like a qwerty-ised T9-like layout spread over an arc.
The layout should make it more comfortable to type single handed, with the thumb only, leaving your other hand free for other tasks. One would also expect there is an option for sinistral or ambidextrous folk to choose a keyboard arced from the left down to the right.
Curved to match the arc of your thumb movement
The photo is said to come from a leaked Microsoft Research presentation. The phone in the picture is the HTC Trophy which implies this keyboard update could come in the Windows Phone 7.8 update. That is if the pictured arc text input system is utilised at all by Microsoft. In tests it might have been a poor performer so won’t see the light of day.
Microsoft Natural Keyboard
Microsoft isn’t new to curvy keyboards and introduced the first widely available and popular model, the Microsoft Natural Keyboard in 1994. So it would be natural for the software giant to bring a bit of curviness to a soft keyboard if only as an option or for the ‘cool factor’.
Meanwhile I wondered if the whole thumb-arc idea could be applied to the Metro interface so did a quick mock-up using the same screenshot to incorporate Windows Metro interface on an arc. I’m just off to talk to Apple’s patent lawyers about my idea…
Thumb Wheel Metro™ definitely NOT a genuine leaked photo
Do readers think the curved soft keyboard will be genuinely useful?