Bringing touch-typing to touch screens and surfaces

The LiquidKeyboard™ is a virtual keyboard for touch screens and surfaces that adapts to the user’s natural finger positions and allows users to touch-type on smooth surfaces. We are currently working on this research project at the University of Technology, Sydney (managed by UniQuest) on our second iPad prototype.
The video below demonstrates the first and outdated HTML and JavaScript proof-of-concept:

The problem with touch-typing on virtual keyboards

Touch-typing works well on a physical keyboard. One can feel the keys and their location and has based on this a clear understanding on where all other keys are located without looking at them. Virtual keyboards do not allow touch-typing as firstly placing 10 fingers on the screen would activate keys accidentally and secondly one cannot feel the keys. Hence does not know where other keys located without look at them. For making touch-typing work on touch screens and surfaces the input system has to adapt to the touch screen conditions.

Our solution

The LiquidKeyboard™ splits the QWERTY keyboard in key groups and allocates these to individual fingers. Each group has a 'home key' on which the finger is resting when touch-typing, e.g. the 'H' for the right index finger. When a finger on a home key is moved the key group follows the sensed finger position and the keys are rotated based on the wrist position for conveniently placed keys. The LiquidKeyboard™ enables users to know exactly where keys are positioned on the keyboard as these keys are always at the same position relatively to the current finger position on the screen. Therefore one does not have to look at the keyboard in order know where keys are located.

When the user’s first four fingers touch the surface, an entire keyboard is constructed in one fluid motion. The system senses finger positions and their pressure by calculating the surface area of a finger on the screen. The positions of the surrounding keys are fixed in relation to each finger, so users can find and touch the keys without tactile feedback. The user-controlled positioning of keys allows the keyboard to adapt automatically to hand size and finger position.

Collaboration and commercialisation

We invite other research groups to collaborate with us on this project. Our commercialisation partner, UniQuest, is working with us to secure a tablet technology business partner. Please feel free to get in touch with us!


Dax Kukulj
Manager, Innovation & Commercial Development
IT, Business and Design
UniQuest @ University of Technology, Sydney

M +61 414 629123
O +61 9514 4986