When all you have is a finger, everything looks like a button . But what if you are unable to press buttons or, more likely, we start using robots and other tools to interact with the real world? That’s what researchers from Aalto University, Finland, and KAIST, South Korea, wanted to know when they began to examine how humans were tapping buttons.

“This research was triggered by the admiration of our remarkable ability to adapt button pressing,” said Professor Antti Oulasvirta at Aalto University. “We press a button on a remote control differently than a piano key.The press of an experienced user is surprisingly elegant in terms of timing, reliability and the use of energy. We successfully press buttons without ever knowing the inner workings of a button.It is basically a black box to our motor system.On the other hand, we fail to activate the buttons. , and some pimples are known to be worse than others. “

During their study, they evaluated the push buttons – buttons with real movement – were more usable than the touch buttons and that the best buttons were the ones that reacted to the moment of maximum impact. The researchers created something called “Impact Activation”. These buttons only turn on when they are fully depressed, thus ensuring that users will know exactly when they are and are not tapping a key on a keyboard or even an instrument. music.

From their release:

The simulations shed new light on what happens at the push of a button. A problem that the brain has to overcome is that the muscles do not activate as perfectly as we will, but each pressure is slightly different. In addition, a push of a button is very fast, occurring within 100 milliseconds, and is too fast to correct movement. The key to understanding button pressing is therefore to understand how the brain adapts according to the limited sensations that are the residue of the brief press event.

Researchers say the key capacity of the brain is a probabilistic model: The brain learns a model that allows it to predict a proper motor drive for a pimple. If a press fails, she can choose a very good alternative and try it. “Without this ability, we should learn to use each button as it was new,” says Professor Byungjoo Lee of KAIST. After successful activation of the button, the brain can tune the motor control to be more precise, use less energy and avoid stress or pain. “These factors together, along with practice, produce the fast, minimal and elegant effort that people are able to accomplish.”

How can we use this information in our daily lives? Well, this research suggests that clicky keys with Cherry switches and other “touch-sensitive” keyboards manufacturers might be better for us, neurologically, than keyboards with a less accurate trip. In addition, it shows us that the best interfaces are physical and non-tactile, which can attest to anyone who has already tried to play video games with touch screen.

In addition, researchers have discovered that button pressing is an acquired skill and perhaps we were right in forcing Mavis Beacon to teach us how to type. “We believe the brain captures these skills on repeated pimple stresses that are already starting as a child.What seems easy for us now has been acquired over the years,” Lee said.