EOC employee designs a keyboard for engineers

marcinKeyboardLarge

Every day, millions of people around the world use very similar computers to do very different tasks. Does it really make sense for a structural engineer to be using the same computer keyboard as an operator in a call centre?

Marcin March, Associate in Eckersley O’Callaghan’s San Francisco office, doesn’t think so, which is why he designed a keyboard specifically for engineering work.

‘The main aim of the keyboard is to separate left and right hands,’ Marcin says. ‘As much as possible, the left hand is only used on the keyboard, and the right hand only on the mouse, with minimal swapping between the two for engineering or CAD work.’

marcinKeyboardprototype

Looking at the keyboard, the first obvious difference is that the number and arrow clusters have been moved over to the left side. ‘This allows the mouse to be positioned closer to the centre and makes things more comfortable,’ Marcin explains. ‘It also means you can enter numbers into spreadsheets with your left hand, while keeping your right on the mouse, which is much more efficient for engineering work.’

Another major advantage the keyboard offers is that it is fully programmable. ‘Any key can be made to do anything,’ Marcin says. ‘For example, I have one button for Ctrl-Alt-Del. The keyboard can also program a ton of autoCAD or Rhino macros, if you feel adventurous!’

marcinKeyboardLarge6

Other features include:

  • Swappable keycaps
  • Vertical key columns, making it easier to touch type
  • A split spacebar; the left bar is backspace and the right is regular space. ‘Backspace is one of the most-used keys, yet one of the furthest from the home row on a normal keyboard'
  • The gaps between each key cluster are the right size to hold pens

‘I saw my keyboard as a fun excursion into product design,’ Marcin says, ‘But it really has made the most frequent tool in the office much better to work with.’

marcinKeyboardRender

It is also a great example of how engineering principles of optimization can be applied to solve everyday problems.