Ah, Houston, We Have a Shortcut, with KeyRocket

By Conor Rushby |

How many times a day do you hit keys on your keyboard unnecessarily? For many who spend most of their working time staring at a computer screen, the answer is probably more than you think. That’s why Veodin launched KeyRocket – and now the service has been gamified to help push users to nail those shortcuts.

The Berlin-based startup launched the service in January, and founders Jan Mechtel and Matthias Mayrock believe the gamification can helps solve the problem of the often slow and dull learning process for keyboard shortcuts.

KeyRocket tracks your habits and lets you know with pop ups when there are speedier ways to complete taks. With 1,700 shortcuts in its database for Word, Excel, Publisher, and Outlook, forming new working practices is rewarded with fuel for your rocket. But your desired takeoff is threatened by mouse usage, which depletes your fuel stocks.

Jan said: “I hate the way getting better works with software works today. Why does a user need to be frustrated first and then search for a better solution before they can benefit from it? The computer should pick up repetition in our behavior and recommend ways to do better even before one gets frustrated.”

Identifying Office Luddites

KeyRocket started up with the help of the Founder Institute, before Jan teamed up technical expert Matthias. Together they founded Veodin in June 2011, and received an initial €100,000 investment from an undisclosed university to launch the product. Afterwards, they secured funding from Michael Brehm, and later High-Tech Gründerfonds.

Its workplace success seems likely to depend on whether less shortcut-savvy office workers will be motivated by a game to change their ways. But what is especially striking is the element of  competition KeyRocket introduces. A dashboard tracks your rate of progress, and more interestingly that of your colleagues, while you can share your achievements over Facebook and Twitter. Office Luddites will be easily identifiable.

Designed primarily with large businesses in mind, Veodin reckons that by cutting down on those long drags of the mouse, its software could save individuals around five minutes a day or two working days a year – or even as much as five days a year if Excel is heavily used.

Minimising False Alarms

As simple as the game sounds, the project is actually based around the psychology PhD of Nina Gerard. Her research concerned how to make alarm systems more efficient. Nina concluded that for an alarm to be effective, there needs to be as few false alarms as possible, that individuals need motivation, and that you need to provide a quick means for an operator to see whether an alarm is genuine or not.

When Jan told Nina of his goal to change people’s computer habits, she recognised the connection, with these findings helping influence the format of KeyRocket.

Currently free for personal use, but $60 for a perpetual license as an enterprise, KeyRocket supports Spanish, German, English and French versions with Portuguese, Russian and Greek on the way. Such rapid expansion – coming after the Gmail version attracted 10,000 users in its first week in August – suggests the sky’s the limit for KeyRocket.

KeyRocket founders Matthias Mayrock and Jan Mechtel