The Keypad of Panini Keypad is a virtual keypad. But it is a virtual keypad with a difference.
In this case, the characters on the virtual keypad are active, responsive and are constantly changing based on internal intelligence reacting to what the user has written. We are not aware of any other keypad system where characters were dynamic on a virtual keypad, characters changing their places.
The reason is, for a generation of input scientists, "muscle memory" or the gradual learning of where characters are, in fixed places on a keypad had its advantages and that was held sacred and was never to be changed. But in the case of Asian languages and particularly for the limited keypad devices like the basic phone, the advantages of the limited number of key presses of this Dynamic Keypad far outweighs any advantages of muscle memory.
The Dynamic keypad has also allowed it to become Ergonomic which is discussed separately.
The characters that are put up on the screen are based on their probabilities. And this has reduced the number of key presses/efforts required to type almost anything by over 500% for all Indian languages.
A few examples are provided below.
The fact that the characters are on the screen has removed the necessity of having printed characters on keypad and hence the same phone can support many languages with equal efficiency and with no preference towards one. This was an important requirement in India which has numerous languages and 9 scripts, each supporting over a hundred million users and important to be included.
The dynamic keypad also has an advantage that it can be accommodated into a device of any form factor. If it has 12 keys it will use 12, if it has 8 keys it will use 8 and so on. This will become important when the need comes up to support Indian languages on numerous other devices of variable form factors like the ATM machine, remote of an IPTV, gaming consoles or even an engineering panel. There will be no legacy keypad whose learning is going to interfere with any of their usage. All languages, all devices, one simple usability. And manufacturers will be freed from any hardware level dependencies and risks that specific printed keypads on production runs result in.
The beauty is also that it is an identical usability for all languages. If you know for one, you know for all. If you stood before a device with random characters on a screen, you would intuitively know what to do.
The rules of usability are only two.
1. Look for the character and press the indicated key.
2. If the character is not on screen, press the designated Next List button.
It is simple, easy to embrace after being explained and is very rewarding after one has invested a little time at learning it, like anything else.
We describe this as a bicycle for typing. Just as in the case of a bicycle at first the usability is awkward and challenging, but after you get a hang of it, it is easy and you would not want to walk if you had a bicycle.
Over the course of the last 3 years, we have taught users to ride this bicycle in all the languages of India and in all its provinces and have witnessed it efficacy with users of every language. We have also introduced this into many other parts of the world where the new way of typing has moved mimetically. The world has been adequately seeded with this new idea and people have embraced it.