Wed, May 20, 2015 - Page 11 News List

Typing style reveals fatigue

A student protester taking part in a sit-down protest outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on March 23 last year nods off while listening to a broadcast of a press conference held by President Ma Ying-jeou.

Photo: Hsieh Wen-hua, Liberty Times

The way a person types can reveal the state of their brain, according to a study that tracked keystrokes when the typist was alert or groggy.

Many of us spend lots of time tapping out words on a keyboard. Now a research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology thinks that how we type might reveal hidden information about the state of our brains. The researchers designed a study in which a computer could detect which subjects were alert and which were suffereing from fatigue, just from their typing.

They focused on how long any particular key was depressed, and designed a program to evaluate the keystrokes while ignoring the actual content being typed.

For the study, 14 volunteers — seven women and seven men — had to type a Wikipedia article when they were fully alert. Then they were woken up about 70 to 80 minutes after they had fallen asleep, when they were in deep slumber. They then had to type out another article while still drowsy.

The result: how long they held down the keys varied much more when they were sleepy than when they were alert.

The researchers say that such a system could be useful as a safety feature on software programs for night shifts, to identify users who have become incapacitated by sleepiness.

(Liberty Times, translated by Ethan Zhan)









1. fatigue n.

疲憊,疲勞 (pi2 bei4, pi2 lao2)

例: The drug’s side effects include headache and fatigue.


2. drowsy adj.

精神恍惚 ;睏倦 ((jing1 shen2 huang3 hu1; kun4 juan4)

例: I started feeling drowsy and decided to take a nap.


3. incapacitated adj.

無法正常工作 (wu2 fa3 zheng4 chang2 gong1 zuo4)

例: He was incapacitated by the pain.


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