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New calculator interface
12-30-2021, 05:26 AM
Post: #1
New calculator interface
This proposal of a completely new interface is said to be more ergonomic. What do you think? Is there an innovation in calculator interfaces? Or everything has been invented already?

https://assets.pubpub.org/l59qicea/d24d0...db19ee.pdf
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12-30-2021, 06:02 AM (This post was last modified: 12-30-2021 06:02 AM by trojdor.)
Post: #2
RE: New calculator interface
I suspect it will be (at best) as successful at replacing the standard calculator keypad layout as the Dvorak keyboard was at replacing the Qwerty keyboard. JMHO

ENTER > =
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12-30-2021, 08:33 AM
Post: #3
RE: New calculator interface
I expect what happened with the talking car was that some manager thought, "Why in this age are we still using primitive dashboard annunciator lights? What could be more a more-natural way for the car to communicate with you than having it talk? Make it talk!" And people hated it, and quickly disconnected the speaker. "Your door is ajar...your door is ajar...your..." I can think of lots of areas where innovation did not turn out to be improvements. This calculator design seems to take that to an extreme.

http://WilsonMinesCo.com (Lots of HP-41 links at the bottom of the links page, http://wilsonminesco.com/links.html )
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12-30-2021, 11:07 AM
Post: #4
RE: New calculator interface
Nokia 3650. It was my favourite keyboard.
[Image: nokia-3650-01.jpg]
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12-30-2021, 11:24 AM
Post: #5
RE: New calculator interface
Yes, behold the most innovative calculator keyboard ever.

[Image: HP_33s_calculator.jpg]
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12-30-2021, 03:33 PM
Post: #6
RE: New calculator interface
I highly doubt the circular group keyboard will be the next Big Thing in calculators. Even so, I like that the authors didn't just throw out an idea and call it superior---they took the time to find an optimal design and prove its characteristics.

Also, where would the ENTER key go, assuming the layout could be converted to RPN/RPL? Replacing that little = key in the lower right doesn't seem like the best option. Maybe if the ON key served double duty as both ON and ENTER?
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12-30-2021, 06:36 PM
Post: #7
RE: New calculator interface
Interesting idea but truth is that once something develops a certain way, it becomes convention. We use steering wheels in cars because that's how they decided to do it, although you could use a joystick or even a touchpad. A calculator display is not much changed from the old button cash registers that I used as a kid, or adding machines. And you can't effect a change unless the change is so definitive that it proliferates - think laser disc vs DVD. I got a Casio Classpad 400 years ago because working with the stylus intrigued me but in the end I just went back to the machines that I had always used.
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12-30-2021, 07:46 PM (This post was last modified: 12-30-2021 07:47 PM by Garth Wilson.)
Post: #8
RE: New calculator interface
(12-30-2021 06:36 PM)harryp Wrote:  We use steering wheels in cars because that's how they decided to do it

I've thought about this frequently. It works out well because you can easily move the outer part anywhere from 1/4" or less for small adjustments at highway speeds, up to 15 feet for tight turns and parking. It's easy to precisely do an adjustment that's 0.1% of the travel, even wearing thick gloves for warmth or work. Such a dynamic range was not possible with the tillers of early cars.

http://WilsonMinesCo.com (Lots of HP-41 links at the bottom of the links page, http://wilsonminesco.com/links.html )
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12-31-2021, 12:14 AM (This post was last modified: 12-31-2021 01:08 AM by Albert Chan.)
Post: #9
RE: New calculator interface
(12-30-2021 06:36 PM)harryp Wrote:  Interesting idea but truth is that once something develops a certain way, it becomes convention. We use steering wheels in cars because that's how they decided to do it, although you could use a joystick or even a touchpad.

I test drived 2022 Hyundai Sonata today.
Transmission control is really a key-pad ! very weird !

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12-31-2021, 09:51 AM
Post: #10
RE: New calculator interface
A quick Google search of the phrase “push button transmission” shows pictures of car dashboards with buttons (admittedly not a keypad) with such a setup. Indeed, one picture is of the push buttons arranged in a circle in the center of the steering wheel. I would imagine that a new driver would not want to be heading down the street, see something they don’t like, hit the horn and suddenly find themselves in reverse.
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12-31-2021, 01:30 PM
Post: #11
RE: New calculator interface
Not a new idea either. My parents had a Plymouth in the mid-60's with a push button automatic transmission. The buttons were mechanical not electronic, however.

Replacing the steering wheel with a joystick or a trackpad would be nothing short of a disaster IMHO.
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12-31-2021, 01:48 PM
Post: #12
RE: New calculator interface
What about Microsoft regularly reshuffling Word and Powerpoint menus in every new release? People seem to accept it and some even like the new versions. Why calculator users should be more conservative?
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12-31-2021, 02:31 PM (This post was last modified: 12-31-2021 02:34 PM by Thomas Okken.)
Post: #13
RE: New calculator interface
But office software is enormously complex, while the controls for operating a car are basically steer left, steer right, go faster, go slower, and a few light switches. Instead of comparing a car to Word, compare it to Notepad...

Re: calculators: I could find my way around easily on my HP-48G back in the day, and it still feels reasonably familiar in emulation on my phone, while I find the 50g baffling, and all because they moved everything around.
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12-31-2021, 03:49 PM
Post: #14
RE: New calculator interface
Office software shouldn't be so complex, each version of Microsoft Office for example has gotten worse. I have to use it at work and connecting from home via Citrix that stupid ribbon takes 1/3 of my laptop screen.

But look at their ergonomic keyboard that made me do the chicken dance to use. Or scroll wheel mouse so you have to spin, spin, spin, spin, spin, spin, spin, spin, spin the wheel repeatedly instead of just pressing on the scrollbar for a second. So many "new" ways end up not being any better than the old.

The thing with with steering wheels being replaced by a touchpad or joystick, look at Tesla's replacement of the turn signal stalk with steering wheel buttons, which in itsself wouldn't be so bad, though I notice I tend to bump buttons on the wife's car accidentally, but they did the buttons up and down instead of left and right.

This keyboard/keypad, if one used it exclusively long enough you would get used to it like a Dvorak keyboard or a chording keyboard. But it seems to be designed around a non RPN calculator which we know isn't as efficient as RPN. I wonder is one compared the efficiency gains of new keyboard with efficiency improvements of RPN.

I wonder if we did a round keypad with a space and/or enter in the middle for an rpn calculator what gains might be had.
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12-31-2021, 03:59 PM
Post: #15
RE: New calculator interface
(12-31-2021 03:49 PM)EugeneNine Wrote:  Office software shouldn't be so complex, each version of Microsoft Office for example has gotten worse. I have to use it at work and connecting from home via Citrix that stupid ribbon takes 1/3 of my laptop screen.

You can hide the ribbon. Double-clicking on a ribbon tab will hide or show the ribbon.
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12-31-2021, 04:27 PM
Post: #16
RE: New calculator interface
I really like the idea of grouping the functions in related concentric circles. Calculators tend to group them together, but, the groupings are somewhat awkward and unintuitive to me. I find myself scanning around the keyboard to find them.

The strangest part of the paper is that it hasn't mapped all the functions of the matrix calculator they compare to. Most importantly, I don't see the STO function. I also don't see the Quote function (Key 42 on the matrix calc using HP's common row-column format), the back arrow (key -52), comma (-54), etc.

The entire analysis in section 5 is based on travel distance for one finger. This ignores the accuracy, which I think all users would agree is more important, and the fact that many users will use multiple fingers. Regarding accuracy, placing the ON key dead center makes accidental presses easy. It's also odd to make the decimal point so small and right next to divide and zero. I'm sure I'd frequently hit divide or zero instead of decimal point. Placing the keys so close together seems to invite pressing the wrong one or pressing two keys accidentally. Finally, a "power user" undoubtedly will want to enter numbers without looking at the keyboard. I'm not sure how easy that would be with numbers arranged in a circle.

Regarding one-finger use, anyone who uses a calculator more than casually uses multiple fingers to type, and this is where the matrix design for the dgiits is most handy (pun intended).

The paper states "there is an equal chance of any of the numbers to be selected at any given position along an algebraic operation." I think Feynman showed that this isn't true. The smaller digits are appear more frequently than the larger ones.

Many of these complaints highlight the need for empirical testing of the design. it's too bad that they weren't able to construct a working model and test it out.

When AT&T designed the touch tone telephone, they did extensive research on the design, so I'm inclined to believe that the matrix is a good idea for numbers. The author's seem to assume that they're the first to study a keyboard layout.

Placing Phi on the keyboard is just a mystery to me. I've never needed it in any calculations I've ever done. I don't doubt its usefulness, I just don't think it rises to the necessity of being a key. You could always store it in a register if there were only a STO key....

The paper ignores manufacturing issues. Wouldn't it be difficult to print (gack!) the symbols onto curved keys? Would it be more difficult to place them during manufacture?
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12-31-2021, 06:32 PM (This post was last modified: 12-31-2021 06:36 PM by EugeneNine.)
Post: #17
RE: New calculator interface
(12-31-2021 03:59 PM)Didier Lachieze Wrote:  
(12-31-2021 03:49 PM)EugeneNine Wrote:  Office software shouldn't be so complex, each version of Microsoft Office for example has gotten worse. I have to use it at work and connecting from home via Citrix that stupid ribbon takes 1/3 of my laptop screen.

You can hide the ribbon. Double-clicking on a ribbon tab will hide or show the ribbon.

You can but, but its still an additional layer of menus, on Outlook anyway. I just connected in and have a file, home, send/receive, view, help menu, then the collapsed menu then an all/unread row and finally the e-mail. I tried opening Word or Excel, but waited a couple minutes after clicking on them so I gave up (they "upgraded" us to windows 10 and everything is slooooow)

(12-31-2021 04:27 PM)David Hayden Wrote:  The entire analysis in section 5 is based on travel distance for one finger. This ignores the accuracy, which I think all users would agree is more important, and the fact that many users will use multiple fingers.

Regarding one-finger use, anyone who uses a calculator more than casually uses multiple fingers to type, and this is where the matrix design for the dgiits is most handy (pun intended).

When AT&T designed the touch tone telephone, they did extensive research on the design, so I'm inclined to believe that the matrix is a good idea for numbers. The author's seem to assume that they're the first to study a keyboard layout.

The paper ignores manufacturing issues. Wouldn't it be difficult to print (gack!) the symbols onto curved keys? Would it be more difficult to place them during manufacture?

I forgot about the multiple finger, wife was a trained accountant on 10key and IIRC three fingers sit in the middle "home" row just like a computer keyboard.
I want to say the ATT design was somewhat based on a circle IIRC, the early pushbutton phones had the buttons in the same place as the old rotary dial and they just started squeezing them down into a smaller circle which eventually flattened into a square.
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12-31-2021, 07:17 PM
Post: #18
RE: New calculator interface
(12-31-2021 01:30 PM)John Keith Wrote:  Not a new idea either. My parents had a Plymouth in the mid-60's with a push button automatic transmission. The buttons were mechanical not electronic, however.

Replacing the steering wheel with a joystick or a trackpad would be nothing short of a disaster IMHO.

SAAB actually produced a prototype SAAB 9000 with a joystick back in the 90's sometime

Mike T.

HP21, HP25, HP32E, HP33C, HP34C, HP10C, HP11C, HP12C, HP32S, HP22S
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12-31-2021, 07:56 PM
Post: #19
RE: New calculator interface
(12-31-2021 07:17 PM)Mike T. Wrote:  SAAB actually produced a prototype SAAB 9000 with a joystick back in the 90's sometime

What about airplanes? Airbus and many others use joysticks in their latest cockpits. After more that 100 years of history and time-proven interfaces, they switched to something new. See the pictures in Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Side-stick

Could the same switch happen in calculator interfaces?
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12-31-2021, 09:49 PM
Post: #20
RE: New calculator interface
(12-31-2021 07:17 PM)Mike T. Wrote:  SAAB actually produced a prototype SAAB 9000 with a joystick back in the 90's sometime

I think KITT did it best with a partial steering wheel and buttons behind it.
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