Keyboard with keys raised by frequency of use

Posted to Data Art  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Mike Knuepfel, a student in NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, uses key frequency, according to Wikipedia, to build a keyboard sculpture. Taller keys equals higher frequency.

Conclusions – This was just a first go at trying to create a data driven 3d sculpture. I wound up scaling the keys a little bit too much in the vertical direction. The weight of the tall keys caused the towers to tilt at an angle. I plan on showing this prototype to a few people that will hopefully give me more ideas for new data sets to look at. I want to try and use the CNC for future data driven sculptures. I also want to try and include color into the sculpture somehow.

Not bad for a first run. My proposed next step: Sculpturize the entire computer. You’ve got your keyboard. Next use some tracking software for mouse button clicks, and then use this software to track the mouse pointer for a sculptured monitor.

[Keyboard Frequency Sculpture via Boing Boing]


  • I have another suggestion: change the layout to Dvorak to show a comparison.

  • This is letter frequency not key frequency, so a little misleading to represent on a keyboard. What would be interesting is TRUE key frequency, i imagine it would feature the spacebar, enter key etc on par with ‘e’ or ‘a’

    • That depends on what you are trying to show.

      If it’s a layout for typing then I don’t think this is really an issue.

      The frequency of the shift key being used with letters would be interesting.

  • I agree with ergonomnoms that it’s a little confusing to call this key frequency, but I don’t think the other keys need to be included. Maybe it would be best if those unmapped keys got a different color?

  • Make an animated sculpture, with key (or letter) frequency varying by the language used (and/or the type of document?).

    The keyboard layout would be changing as well, so you have to make the actual key markings dynamic too, but I’m sure you can make it :-)

  • I looked on this wikipedia article and one thing come to my mind: similarity between countries based on letters frequency. Some data manipulations and voilà

  • Along with key strokes and mouse clicks, eye tracking software could also provide a data set to represent in some fashion.

    The inverse on the keys could be interesting as well, with the keys depressed by how much they a used.

  • An eye tracking heat map on the surface of the computer screen AND the keyboard would be interesting. would look very much like a warped terrain model.

  • There should be different segments – imagine a first person shooter gamer, WASD would be huge. Or finding the key strokes of a novel would be equally as interesting. Love the idea and execution, heaps of room for expansion.

  • I second that!
    Also worth considering: different kinds of users.


Divorce Rates for Different Groups

We know when people usually get married. We know who never marries. Finally, it’s time to look at the other side: divorce and remarriage.

Marrying Age

People get married at various ages, but there are definite trends that vary across demographic groups. What do these trends look like?

The Most Unisex Names in US History

Moving on from the most trendy names in US history, let’s look at the most unisex ones. Some names have …

How You Will Die

So far we’ve seen when you will die and how other people tend to die. Now let’s put the two together to see how and when you will die, given your sex, race, and age.