The typing touch

Remember when photography was an art practiced by those few willing to spend quite a lot of money getting decent equipment? These days everyone with a smart phone (and that’s pretty much everybody) and a lack of self-censorship is a budding Annie Leibovitz. It’s a bit the same with typing; in the past real typing was the skill of a practised who learned to touch type but these days keyboards are so ubiquitous that most of us type to some degree. So in these days of two-finger-pokers and four-finger-gliders is touch typing, where you use all ten fingers, still a faster way to approach the keyboard? That was what researchers wanted to find out in their new study.

To study this and record exact finger movements during typing the researchers used reflective markers on the joints of subjects’ fingers and recorded their position with 12 high-speed infrared cameras while the subject typed. This allowed the researchers to objectively know which finger was touching a key without relying on the subjects reporting of their finger usage.

In general they found that people tended to use either one or two fingers per hand or use a modified touch-typing style. The analysis however, showed that the number of fingers used did not impact typing speed but a number of other factors did.

It emerged that the fastest typists keep their hands fixed on one position instead of moving them all over the keyboard. The fastest typists also more consistently use the same finger to type the same letter.

It was also interesting to note that most people kept their hand relatively still while the right hand tended to roam around on the keyboard, covering a large number of keys.

While touch-typing did not come out on top in the study the researchers did find that trained typists do have advantages over un-trained typists. For instance, untrained typists spend about twice as much time looking at their fingers instead of the screen which can affect speed especially as the tasks become more complex.

If properly learned, the researchers believe that touch-typing can have advantages over self-taught techniques. Nevertheless, it would seem that two-fingered-pokers need hang their heads in shame no more…it truly is a brave new world.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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