December 14, 2020

Introducing Heat Maps

by Erez Zukerman

We all use our keyboards in different ways. That’s why being able to move your keys around is so important for ergonomics. But how do you know your keymap is working for you?

That’s what our new Heat Map feature is for: Connect to Live Training, turn on Heat Map mode, and go back to whatever you were doing before.

Every time you hit a key, Heat Map counts it:

Heat Map

Over time, you get a clear picture of your personal keyboard usage. Are there any far-away keys that are red (i.e, get used a lot)? Are there any easily-accessible keys that are being wasted?

For my own use, shown above, we can see that I could be putting the thumb cluster for my left hand to much better use. On the main cluster, we can see the Colemak keyboard layout at work, with the home row being used heavily (as it should be).

How long should a session be?

To get a clear picture of your typing habits, you could do one of two things:

Wait for Oryx to go “ding”. When Oryx feels like there’s enough data on your typing habits, it will sound an audible ding, inviting you to check out the tab and see how you’re doing.

Alternatively, you can also…

Go by activity. This is actually my preferred way of doing it. My typing pattern tends to change according to whatever I’m currently doing: Editing images isn’t like replying to email, and my keyboard usage patterns reflect this.

So what I like to do is turn on the heat map, and sink into one kind of deep work for a while. Maybe writing, or email, or coding — whatever. Then, when I’m done with that particular activity, I go and check on my heat map. I also take a moment to pay attention to my body: How do my hands, arms, and shoulders feel right now?

This particular context — the physical state and heat map that result from this work — can be a powerful source of information for further optimizing my layout.

Questions I like to ask:

  • Are there any wasted keys I should reassign? Specifically, are there any keys I didn’t use at all?
  • Does the heat map show one hand working much harder than the other? Does it feel that way in my body, too?
  • Are any far-away keys red?
  • Should I create a dedicated layer just for this one application or use case? I.e, when I do this activity, am I mainly using keys on the outside edges of the keyboard, or “reaching” a lot?

Just a few sessions with the heat map feature, followed by iterating on your layout, can result in powerful (and highly personalized) ergonomic gains. Try it out!

Erez Zukerman

Erez Zukerman

Erez Zukerman is the CEO and Co-Founder of ZSA Technology labs.