TitleThe Effect of Key Size of Touch Screen Virtual Keyboards on Productivity, Usability, and Typing Biomechanics
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsKim, JH, Aulck, L, Thamsuwan, O, Bartha, MC, Johnson, PW
JournalHuman Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Pagination1235 - 1248
Date Published11/2014


We investigated whether different virtual keyboard key sizes affected typing force exposures, muscle activity, wrist posture, comfort, and typing productivity.


Virtual keyboard use is increasing and the physical exposures associated with virtual keyboard key sizes are not well documented.


Typing forces, forearm/shoulder muscle activity, wrist posture, subjective comfort, and typing productivity were measured from 21 subjects while they were typing on four different virtual keyboards with square key sizes, which were 13, 16, 19, and 22 mm on each side with 2-mm between-key spacing.


The results showed that virtual keyboard key size had little effect on typing force, forearm muscle activity, and ulnar/radial deviation. However, the virtual keyboard with the 13-mm keys had a 15% slower typing speed (p < .0001), slightly higher static (10th percentile) shoulder muscle activity (2% maximum voluntary contractions, p = .01), slightly greater wrist extension in both hands (2° to 3°, p < .01), and the lowest subjective comfort and preference ratings (p < .1).


The study findings indicate that virtual keyboards with a key size less than 16 mm may be too small for touch typing given the slower typing speed, higher static shoulder muscle activity, greater wrist extension, and lowest subjective preferences.


We evaluated the effects of virtual keyboard key sizes on typing force exposures, muscle activity, comfort, and typing productivity.