TangiSoft

TangiSoft was a hybrid of a physical and soft keyboard, intended to combine the advantages of both. It was designed for use with a digital tabletop, specifically for applications that require high mobility and frequent switching between text entry and other tasks.

The device was a piece of paper with a printed keyboard. It was developed for a pre-production prototype of the multi-pen Promethean Activboard digital tabletop, whose digitising technology was an electromagnetic grid that reacted to a battery- and wire-free mouse pen and could read and distinguish input from up to three pens simultaneously. For the TangiSoft keyboard, we used one pen to input text and the sensors of two other pens to track the pen’s movements.

We hypothesised that having a tangible keyboard would facilitate two-handed interaction, improving mobility and helping users to better integrate text entry with higher-level activities. During our analysis of the keyboard, which involved tests by ten participants, we found that mobility was largely a characteristic of the user, but that the keyboard did encourage more two-handed interaction and that users were more mobile than they were with a soft keyboard.