When using a computer, phone, or tablet, it is occasionally the case that a user must type in numbers.
Typing numbers on a computer with a 12-digit physical numeric keypad is fast and easy (Figure 1). Unfortunately, laptops frequently no longer have these hardware keypads, and smartphones and tablets never did.
The “soft” keypad on most phones provides no tactile feedback and is often a completely separate part of the onscreen keyboard interface (i.e. you may end up in a completely different “numeric input” mode instead of the standard alphabetical layout you are familiar with).
This may lead to the user inputting incorrect numbers or, at minimum, taking longer than is necessary to input their data.
Fortunately, modern smartphones and tablets have a number of additional sensors that we can repurpose for fast and unambiguous numeric input.
Below: see Proposal T (“Tilt sensor”) in Figure 2 and Proposal M (“Magnetic compass”) in Figure 3.
Additional Input Methods:
There are alternative input methods that may also be useful for numeric input. For example, to input the number N, the user could:
- Raise their phone N inches into the air
- Quickly cover up their phone’s camera N times
- Shriek at their phone at (50 + 5*N) decibels. This would be faster than relying on normal voice input, since it would not require complicated machine learning techniques to process.
There may be additional yet-undiscovered methods as well!
PROS: Frees users from the technological dead-end of the hardware keyboard. Finally, innovation in the user input space!