Keybee is the new keyboard layout designed specifically for touchscreen devices (smartphones, tablets, tablet phones, pda, smartwatches, car navigators, cash machines, etc). The name Keybee comes from the composition of the words Keyboard and Bee that together symbolize the essence of the project. Keybee wants to fill a gap that has lasted for 150 years and give to the touchscreens a layout designed only for them. Innovate means to improve the needs of the community and Keybee, solving a basic problem of the interaction between man and machine and reaching billion of users in every place, of every ages and languages, represents a real technological innovation.
2. When and where the Keybee project was launched?
The project was born in Italy at the end of 2012 while the Keybee beta app has been launched in January 2014.
Keybee was created and patented by Marco Papalia, an italian front-end developer with great passion on usability and computer science. His main goal was how to improve the text input in a smartphone without having problems and without commit frustrating errors during the text entry with the classic QWERTY standard layout.
4. What are the main features of Keybee?
The main features of Keybee are:
Hexagonal honeycomb structure which optimizes the touchscreen display area and uses in the best way its proportions
Spacebar key moved to the centre of this structure
New arrangement based to the analysis of frequencies
Linking of the most common word groups according to their frequency to optimize the use of the swipe function
The QWERTY layout was invented in 1863 for two hands use and to solve the jam problems in the typewriters. For this reason the most common letters and groups in the QWERTY were separeted so the two hands typing resulted faster witohut jams. This separation is the main reason of the slowness typing in touchscreen QWERTY devices used with one finger. Smartphones and tablets in fact were introduced in 2007 and they are used in a one hand way because designed for a different use than the typewriters. All this is the proof that the standard QWERTY is not optimized for the new generation touchscreen devices but it is only an adaptation. Another problem of the QWERTY adaptation is that its horizontal predisposizion limts the scaling of the letters so the keys could not be adapted in the best way to the touchscreen vertical displays.
6. Why did you choose a honeycomb structure?
Save space in small devices is fundamental. First of all an honecomb structure can remove the useless space between letters so there is more useful space to show them bigger. Second this structure and its proportionality allows to Inoltre questa disposizione permette di sfruttare il dispositivo in altezza e non in larghezza ovvero nel modo per cui smartphones e tablets sono stati concepiti. Third for each cell it increases the number of connections with the other cells and the distance between them will be lower.
The space bar has always been the most important key in the keyboards. In the QWERTY layout the spacebar is located the bottom because is the most confortable position for the thumbs. In the touchscreen devices the most comfortable position for the finger is not the bottom but the center of the keyboard, so the most important key deserves the most important, used and confortable position: the centre. From the centre it will start the new intelligent arrangement of letters and word groups.
8. What about the new letters arrangement?
Each letter in each Keybee keyboard has been placed following a studied order and precise rules. Starting from the centre there are the letters with the higher frequency (in relation to the language studied) and the letters that are most frequently at the beginning or at the end of a word. So the adjacency with the spacebar and the swipe function will improve in the optimal way the typing on touchscreens. In the internal cells there are the letter less used while at higher distance, close to the borders, there are the rare letters. In the internal cells there are the letter less used while at higher distance, close to the borders, there are the rare letters. This new arrangement and this structure are designed also for the linking of the most common word groups according to their frequency of use. Word groups like with, ck, for, st, th, ing etc. are printable with one touch instead of with multiple touches. Also other symbols like apostrophe, question and exclamation mark, comma, dot, return, etc. are arranged to reduce the number of touches and the number of keyboard's change.
Yes, of course. Each language has his own structure so it is necessary that the arrangement follows every single language's rule. For now the available languages in Keybee are English, Spanish, Italian and German but we will introduce all the main languages according to their frequency (French, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese, Japanese, Slavic and Balkan languages, Russian, Arabic)
10. How have you integrated the Swipe function?
The swipe is the primary function in the touchscreen devices, for this reason in Keybee the structure, the arrangement and the linking of common word groups are designed to make easy and fast the swipe function. Some syllables and some entire words can be inserted through a simple combination of click & swipe greatly reducing the number of touches for typing a text (50% less). All this thanks to the intelligent arrangement and not with the using of prediction algorothms. For now the swipe is limited to the adjacent cells because we did not introduce predictive algorithms.
Not yet. Being the project at the beginning we are still testing. Certainly the prediction algorithms increase the speed text entry but at the same time they introduce disadvantages such as unintended words and a huge use of RAM memory and battery on the device. In the future the user will choose to use Keybee with the prediction algorithms or just the standard Keybee with his great advantages.
12. Which are the advantages compared to the QWERTY?
Before showing all the advantages of Keybee I wish to focus on the concepts of simplicity and instantaneousness. First of all a successful keyboard must be simple and clear which means that all the letters must be at the same size. Secondly the keyboard must be istantaneous and easy, meaning that when I click I should not think but instantly it must show what I've pressed. The QWERTY has both of these characteristics but has the big fault of not being designed for touchscreen devices. Keybee takes the semplicity and the instantaneousness from the QWERTY and make them better. In fact Keybee is a lot simpler and clearer than QWERTY and especially Keybee is more instantaneous because with less touches I can print more letters.
Hence a series of Keybee advantages compared to QWERTY:
Less distance between all the letters (40% less)
Fewer touches to write a text (on average more than 50% less)
Faster writing and typing using one finger (small screen)
Faster writing and typing using one hand (big screen)
Increased speed to change keyboard
Fewer number of touches from letter to letter starting from every keyboard (2 touches)
Increased size of the keys and letters: 30% bigger size in the same area occupied by the QWERTY layout and 50% bigger in a full screen view
Less chance to make grammar mistakes
More characters and symbols can be used/viewed in the three different keyboards (17% more than the current standard)
More connections to other letters thanks to the honeycomb structure (6 connections)
Better arrangement of letters, syllables, word composition and word groups which have letters in common in relation to their frequency
Improved ergonomics and comfort in the use of the touchscreen devices
Better adaptability of the Keybee on large and small screens thanks ita proportionality ratio
More usable space in the vertical or horizontal view on touchscreen devices
The faster typing speed is gained without using any predictive algorithm of words
Sure. Keybee is designed to improve and speed up the text input with one hand and with a single finger so is perfect also for tablets. People hold with one hand these devices and press the display with one finger of the other hand (usually the index finger). The bigger size of the Keybee cells in a tablet turns out to be more efficient while the proportionality of the structure gives more space in background.
14. How is the Keybee project proceeding?
During the 2013 we focused on how to present our idea in front of investors. For this reason in we prepared some elevator pitches and applied for some national and international start-up competitions. Thanks to this work we have quickly reached the final of these national competitions (IT Cup Registro.it - Start Cup Milano Lombardia) and international (Italian Venture Forum) that gave us the chance to speak directly with national and international investors. In January 2014 we have launched the Keybee beta for Android touchscreen devices. In 2015 we are preparing to the Apple market developing the Keybee for iOs (iPhone and iPad). We would like to launch it on Apple Store at the end of 2015
We have a lot of ideas. It would be great to give the chance at the user to customize the Keybee arrangement according to its own most used letters. We would also create a words play game for all the platforms like Keybee vs QWERTY where the user can challenge the QWERTY and find out, having fun, the superiority of Keybee.
16. How did you find the idea for the Keybee logo?
The Keybee logo was designed by Jelena Cop (architect and wife of the inventor) and Tvrtko Buric (visual artist and designer). They wanted to create a logo which include the concepts of speed and centrality through an hexagonal structure, recognizable in a fast and immediate way. The Keybee name, simple and international, was given by Jelena.
First of all we want to launch the official Keybee beta app on Google Play. In the meantime make test it to many people as possible, develop it for other platforms and other devices, invest in targeted marketing, promote the project through start-up competitions, extend the patent around the World, find investors or venture capitals who can understand the potentially of this project and fund it. We want to work hard and capitalize the opportunities of this huge market. Our goal is reach million of people around all the World with the official Keybee versions.
20. How can I contribute to make the project bigger?
Currently the project has not recieved any funds so it continues only thanks to personal investments from the founders. It is possible to improve the Keybee project with a tiny donation. Thank you.
Keybee® Project - Keybee is a registered trademark - contact: firstname.lastname@example.org - Update: April 2014