Monthly Archives: March 2013

News

One-Dimensional Keyboard Hack

The concept for a one-dimensional keyboard called Minuum completely blew up the internet last week.  It works based on the principle of disambiguation, which is something I explored quite a bit during the early stages of developing ASETNIOP.  The video for it was very slick, but I thought it was kind of sketchy that the designers built up so much buzz (and collected a bunch of money) yet weren’t actually willing to let anyone try it out.  So I made my own version.

 

TryIt

 

Some caveats:

  • The word suggestions are based off a dictionary of 5,000 words, gathered from subtitles and graciously donated to the web by Hermit Dave.  The words are ranked according to frequency of use.  A smart dictionary – one whose suggestions are based on context and grammar – would provide better options, but would be orders of magnitude bigger, so the number of choices might be overwhelming.
  • My program prioritizes complete words over partial suggestions, so if you’ve completed a word it will be immediately accessible.
  • There are only six choices available (the autocomplete suggestion and the five boxes below) – there’s a small bit of text that shows how many additional options have been determined (but they’re not accessible).
  • The space bar will complete the word as shown and add a space.
  • There is no shift or backspace or any punctuation keys.
  • The zoom keys don’t work on mobile devices (creating a “hover” activity takes a lot of finesse) but they do work with a mouse.
  • The code is not particularly elegant – a lot of it was written using spreadsheet formulas and cut-paste-find&replace, but it should work.
  • The mobile version doesn’t work on Opera.  Otherwise I’ve tested it in other browsers on a desktop, iPhone, Droid, and iPad and it seems to work fine.

This isn’t a product release or anything (though, incidentally, I am looking to make contact with some Android developers, so if you’ve got skills please let me know), it’s just a mockup that lets you see how a system like this will look and feel in practice.  Enjoy!

 

Gloves News

Typing Gloves

One of the earliest proposed platforms for ASETNIOP was a set of typing gloves with sensor-equipped fingertips, allowing for any flat surface to be used as a keyboard.  In particular, with the prospect of Google Glasses truly revolutionizing the world of wearable computing, the idea of keyboard-equipped gloves is more intriguing than ever.  About two years ago I played around with the concept a bit and took apart a USB keyboard and used the circuit board with some wire and a pair of gloves to build a set of my own.  They didn’t work very well, but the ASETNIOP software has come a long, long way since then so I pulled them out of storage and gave them a try this week – they actually work quite well and they’re surprisingly fun to use.  It’s a bit of a silly project, but if you’ve got an old USB keyboard (or you’ve got an Arduino microcontroller and some electronics know-how) you can build a set at home.  I’ve included a video of the final project, and rudimentary instructions on how to put them together.

Video of the finished gloves in action:

 

What you’ll need:
1 pair gloves – I used a simple set of cotton stretch gloves that I got at a fabric store for about a dollar.
10 snap fasteners – Also available at a fabric store, there’s a pretty extensive variety of options available. I used something that had a simple crimping connection that you can close with a hammer.
1 USB keyboard – You’ll be cannibalizing this.
1 metal baseplate –  Anything that is big enough to accomodate both your hands (about 6″x12″ or 15 x 30 cm) will do.  I used stainless steel, but anything that can carry a current (aluminum or even copper) should be fine.
1 piece of plywood – Something big enough to hold the metal and other components.
Assorted screws and wires

First, connect the snap connectors to the fingertips of the gloves. You’ll want to put the gloves on and mark where your fingers actually make contact when pressed down, for me point of contact on my thumbs is actually on the sides.  You can attach the wires during or after, depending on what kind of snaps and crimping system you’re using.  I used some extra fabric to make a set of bands to wrap around each finger to add afterwards, these help keep the wires from floating around and getting in the way.


snaps

 

Next, take the keyboard apart and find the chip that controls which signals get sent to the computer. Don’t disconnect the USB cord!  One of the terminals is going to be connected to the baseplate, if you close a circuit between this and any of the other terminals it will send a code to the computer. You can plug in the USB connection to your computer and test the code outputs at asetniop.com/keyboardDebug.html.  For mine, I connected the fingers to the terminals for (from left to right):


Left Hand Right Hand
Finger Key Code Finger Key Code
Pinky K 75 Thumb A 65
Ring L 76 Index S 83
Middle SEMICOLON 186/59 Middle D 68
Index BACKSLASH 220 Ring F 70
Thumb ENTER 13 Pinky J 74


wiring


Mount the chip and the metal baseplate on the plywood backing and use wire to connect the primary terminal with the baseplate (and the ground wire, if there is one). Then connect the individual wires for each of your output terminals to the fingertips of each glove; you’ll want to set things up so they stay out of your way as much as possible.


platform


And that’s pretty much it!  Plug the USB connection into your computer, and if you used the same set of keycodes that are described above, you can go to asetniop.com/gloves.html and start using them right away!  If not, just drop us a line and we’ll get a custom array based on your own keycodes set up for you!

Keyboards News

ASETNIOP Plays All Your Favorite Classical Hits

One of the reasons why ASETNIOP has so much potential as a keyboard replacement is that it can be used on any device that has at least ten buttons (keyboards, sensor-equipped gloves, etc.) or any device that can be configured to have ten buttons (touchscreens, gesture-recognition devices, etc.).  The most recent addition to the family of available platforms is the piano.  If you’ve got your computer set up to receive MIDI input from a piano/synthesizer, you can use ASETNIOP to jot down song lyrics or messages or anything else without having to dedicate desk space to a QWERTY keyboard and make the cumbersome switch back and forth between the two.

In order to run ASETNIOP through your browser, you’ll need the jazz plugin, which can be found here and should work with any major browser.

To give it a try, you can make your way through the tutorial, or if you’re already familiar with how ASETNIOP works, you can jump right in with the basic text editor.

To show what’s possible, here’s a video of the method in action:

Keyboards News

ASETNIOP keyboard text editor

The prototype keyboard version has been updated to include some basic text editing capabilities including the following:

1.  You can use the mouse to move the cursor – just point and click where you’d like to go.

2.  You can select and edit text (cut, copy, paste, overwrite) with the Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C, and Ctrl-V commands.  You can use Ctrl-C to copy text OUT of the ASETNIOP text editor (to paste into other applications) but you cannot paste text INTO the editor…yet.

3.  A few symbols that are useful for coding have been added to the base English layout, including { and } and = and + and & and | – just press the semicolon (right ring and pinky finger) and hold to see the options – use the shift to get + and |.

A number of changes are forthcoming, including a new layout for the keyboard graphic that’s not based off the ipad design (see below) and there will be a separate “options” menu to open where you can select the language, your keyboard configuration (QWERTY, AZERTY, etc.), layout, color scheme, and a few new items having to do with the autofill and autocorrect configurations.  Please report bugs or requests!

KeyboardVisual