Not A FrogPad But Close

While you might think one-handed keyboards are a niche item, if you have reduced function in one hand or you only have one hand, they are pretty important. [Kian] was getting ready for surgery that would put his left arm out of commission for a while, which spurred the construction of a one-handed keyboard inspired by FrogPad.

There was a time when creating a new keyboard would have been a significant task. These days, it is reasonably easy and [Kian] simply repurposed an existing kit for a split keyboard. Using just half the board was easy since it is made in two parts already.

There have been many attempts at building effective one-handed input devices over the years, and the circa 2002 FrogPad is one of the better devices. Like most one-handed keyboards, it uses layers. The top layer has the most common keystrokes to minimize the number of layer changes required to type common text.

The FrogPad had 20 keys; the half-keyboard had 24, so there was a little extra room. The keyboard uses the ubiquitous QMK firmware, so customizing the layout was not a problem.

In the end, [Kian] didn’t need to immobilize his arm after all (we’re glad about that), but he still used the keyboard just to rest the arm after the surgery. It is slower, of course, than a regular keyboard, especially at first. How slow? Well, [Kian] runs some typing tutor programs to show how much of an impact it has.

Taking a split keyboard and repurposing it isn’t a new idea. Accessibility isn’t the only reason people want one-handed keyboards.

6 thoughts on “Not A FrogPad But Close

  1. I have a 36% I use not because I have mobility issues but because I have small children who feel Daddy’s lap is THE place to be, especially when he needs to type something long.
    It does slow down typing quite a bit especially when doing a lot of special characters and or coding but working one handed on a keyboard that fits in a tiny space is awesome.

  2. Quoting, “It is slower, of course, than a regular keyboard”
    There are demo videos of Frogpad usage online where the user is doing 80wpm, which would be impressive even for a full keyboard.  (I only do about 50wpm on a full keyboard.)  I had hoped the Frogpad would gain wide adoption; but I think what prevented that was that the makers were greedy and thought they could charge $200 for it, which was like about $340 of today’s dollars.  That’s what kept me from ever buying one too.  I’d like to give it a try, and I could certainly stand to gain the desk space; but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that much for it.

    1. ive seen people type that fast on phone screens. those people will probably get carpal tunnel syndrome though. humans love to do things in the most inefficient ways possible.

  3. a steno plover adaptation might be able to go faster: (basically stenography or shorthand, rather than inputting each letter in at a time, but you’re also basically learning a language of abbreviations)

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