This USB Dongle Could Help the Average Person Type 600% Faster

The CharaChorder X dongle on its own on a black background.

It sounds like an ad you’d find in the back pages of Popular Science for a miracle gadget that couldn’t possibly deliver on its promises, but the CharaChorder X dongle can legitimately and dramatically improve a user’s typing speed—assuming they’re willing to put the work in to learn how to use it.

So how can a device claim to “elevate average human typing speed from 40 words per minute up to 250 words per minute” without jabbing a probe deep into a user’s brain to detect what word they’re thinking of faster than their fingers can type it? The secret to the CharaChorder X, and its creators’ previous products, like the CharaChorder Lite keyboard, is that it simply reduces the number of keys that need to be typed to spell out words. So instead of needing 28 separate key presses to type out antidisestablishmentarianism, a user would only have to hit a combination of three or four keys just once.

The secret to the CharaChorder X is in its name: chords. Like a piano player hitting several keys at the same time to play a group of notes with a unique sound, or a guitar player strumming several strings, the CharaChorder technology allows an alphanumeric keyboard to be used in a similar fashion. But instead of producing sounds, pressing several different keys at the same time triggers a much longer word to be automatically typed, making a keyboard a far more efficient input tool.

The original version of the CharaChorder looked more like a gaming peripheral covered in a collection of wiggly unlabelled joysticks, but the follow-up, the CharaChorder Lite, looked like a regular compact keyboard, making it easier for users to slowly transition from traditional typing techniques to the benefits of typing with chords. And as happy as the company was for everyone to drop $200 on their special keyboard, its latest creation is a much cheaper solution, giving any existing keyboard CharaChorder powers.

The CharaChorder X dongle is connected to a device’s USB port, and then a keyboard is connected to it. No special drivers or software needs to be installed as the CharaChorder X monitors what’s being typed all on its own, and automatically inputs longer words when a three- or four-key combination is detected. It comes with a library of existing chords, but users can also program their own custom chords through a website interface, with the dongle having enough capacity to store over 65,000 presets. And because it’s a self-contained device, it works with Windows, Linux, macOS, and even Android, iOS, and iPadOS.

There are two catches to reaping the typing speed benefits of the CharaChorder X. First, you have to learn all those chords and the muscle memory required to accurately hit three or four keys at a time. This is made easier through web-based training tools the company provides, but it will take some practice to memorize enough of them to significantly improve your typing speed.

Second, is that its creators are using a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to help put the CharaChorder X into production. The campaign has already surpassed its $10,000 funding goal, and you can score one of the dongles for just $39 with a contribution, with full retail pricing eventually being $100. Delivery is expected sometime in July of next year, but as with any Kickstarted product, particularly electronics, there’s always the chance of unforeseen delays. The company has already brought several products to market through Kickstarter so it has a solid track record, but it’s always a good idea to be cautious with products where all the risk is put on those pre-ordering one in advance.

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