Logitech Wave Keyboard Test Results
Inventors are still trying to come up with a better computer keyboard. So far though, most new keyboard designs haven't caught on.
The problem with many keyboard innovations whether a change in shape or rearrangement of keys is the long learning curve a typist needs to get up to speed on the new device. Few computer users have the patience, and unconventional keyboards usually remain sitting on a shelf.
So it's good news for keyboarders that a scientific study of Logitech's Wave Keyboard found the innovative design hits a sweet spot by improving comfort without compromising typing performance.
The Wave keyboard isn't a radical departure from normal computer keyboards. The keys are spaced normally apart and placed in the usual order.
The difference lies in the height of the Wave's keys. For touch typists, keys that sit under longer fingers middle and ring finger are shorter than keys under the forefinger and pinkie. The result is a keyboard with undulating topography, a subtle series of ridges and valleys or "waves" that match finger length.
Researchers recruited 20 typists to compare Logitech's Wave and with a normal, level keyboard. The volunteers typed away for 30 minutes on each of the keyboards while scientists monitored speed and mistakes, and measured arm and hand positions.
Typing Speed and Accuracy
The testers were experienced touch typists, as their accuracy and speed demonstrated. They adapted quickly to the contoured arrangement of the Logitech's keys. On both keyboards, typists maintain a 94 percent accuracy.
Their typing speed also did not falter. Testers cranked out an average 45.6 words per minute on the normal keyboard versus 47.2 wpm on the Wave.
Hand and Wrist Comfort
Typists using the Wave Keyboard had slightly less twist and kink in their hands and wrists. The more neutral wrist angles put less strain on joints and muscles.
Compared with a normal keyboard, wrist extension, where the wrist bends to raise the hand upwards, was reduced by nearly five degrees while typing on the Wave. Testers also had a degree or two less bend in their wrists towards the outside, or ulnar deviation. Similarly, they had less inward rotation of their forearms and hands, or forearm pronation.
Most typists felt the Logitech Wave Keyboard was a design improvement, one they didn't take long to adapt to. By the end of the half-hour test, 85 percent of participants said they preferred Logitech's Wave over a normal keyboard.
Peter W. Johnson, Han Chen and Sylvain Sauvage. 2008. Evaluation of the Logitech Wave Keyboard. Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting Proceedings. 52(15): 1030-1034.