This is precisely the kind of stuff that makes a forum interesting and fun. Thanks to ricb for posting.
The octodon is one of many keyboard concepts that use rocking, tilting or sliding motion to select a character. These approaches have in common that they use a single key per finger, but those keys have other dimensions of motion besides a simple strike.
If you look at our 2003 patent (see “Tri -Blade” in WayTools/us/patents), you can see that more than 12 years ago, we were also exploring ways to let you use other degrees of freedom for key input.
We actually built systems that did this back then, and tested how it affected usability and cognitive focus.
What we found is that schemes that diverge from a single, rapid, strike to get a character, inescapably reduce speed and cognitive focus.
That’s why over all these years, they’ve never gotten traction with consumers. In simple terms, they don’t work as well.
Designing a keyboard around the constraints of a smartphone, instead of the needs of our hands - is backwards. To get this right, we had to first ask what the hands want, and build from there.
Typing is about what fingers need. Striking on a moveable key with appreciable travel, well-defined force feedback, and tactile surface qualities - is uniquely well matched to what our fingers excel at doing.
Fingers are incredibly sophisticated biomechanical manipulators, exquisitely instrumented with sensors that can perceive even slight physical differences. The input system must be equal to this.
Typing is a kind of kinetic ballet, where the bounding off of one key to segue into the next one - is integral to the dance.
Without the right elements, it falls flat. But with them, it is a uniquely satisfying, even thrilling experience. The instrument disappears into the background, and we are in the zone, making music - or in this case, sculpting a thought.
Experimentation with alternative technology is the lifeblood of innovation. But discerning which new elements to put in and which to leave out - that is the art of it.
Only a few companies (like Apple or Tesla) have shown the wisdom to know the difference.