Number keyboard 2 digit system, just for fun

The number to letters method (Consonants and vowels) that I’m attempting is not working out very well; my brain simply refuses to accept certain non existent (as in not part of a language I know) words as real and some images of (real) words are just not easy to visualise. And because I have a couple of days free from work I’m going to make a fresh start with something that on first review doesn’t make much sense but I have been wrong about what makes sense and what doesn’t very often, so I will give it a go.

number keyboard

I’m going to bypass the theoretical underpinnings of this method and just give some examples, as I feel this will clarify the method sufficiently. Don’t freak out, but there will be a test at the end.

23 = a christmas tree; place the base of the tree on the number 2 key and and the top on the the number 3 key;
39 = a banana; place one end of the banana on the number 3 key and the other end on the number 9 key so that most of the banana is lying on the right of the keyboard.
17 = a giraf; just picture a giraf on the full length of the left side of the keyboard;
71 = an orang utang; the orang otang is hanging with one hand from the upper left corner of the keyboard (number 7 key) and presses the number 1 key with his other other arm, with his feet on the left of the number key board;
19 = an elephant; one of the elephants legs is in the bottom left corner of the keyboard (number 1 key) and his trunk is stretched to reach the upper right corner (number 9 key);
55 = a screwdriver; stick the screwdriver in the middle of the keyboard and turn it to the left and to the right (indicating a double usage of the number 5 key).


39 19 55 71 17 23 … can you recall the objects?

my results

christmas tree,banana, giraffe,orangutan,elephant,screwdriver.

I’m pretty sure I did this wrongly but it still worked quite well. I placed all the items on the keys and for the giraffe literally tilted its head all the way from 1 to 7 on my visualized keyboard.

That makes 2 of us. After some trials and errors and hard thinking I have come (at least I think) to a better understanding of how to do this. Two concepts seem of great importance in this light.

distinguishable variation

The elephant (19) in my example is placed on a diagonal (from bottom left to upper right). Likewise spiderman may represent number 91 hanging up side down in the upper right corner and shooting a web to the lower left corner. You may think that 29 should also be translated as a diagonal (like 19 but different angle), but I believe this to be a big mistake because it simply is not distuinguishable enough. It would be better in my view to translate 29 as a warped wall (like in the ninja obstacles TV-hows) and likewise for 27 (see the symmetry paragraph below). A good objects representing 29 (or 27) may therefore be a ninja (running up the warped wall) or a stunt motorcyclist (riding up the warped wall); likewise but going down the warped wall … 72/92 = a skateboarder or a teenager in a shopping cart going downhill (we used to do that, because there was no internet).


One of the mistakes I have made when using a system like the “The Shaper System” -> Number Shapes - 00 - 99 - Anyone Using It? is that I would “translate” a certain digit as the same (part of) an object for some 2 digit combinations with that number, but something completely different for other combinations.

So for example the “8” would often be a humanoid shape (38 = robot, 18 = pole vaulter, 28 a fisherman, but also 48 = a sandtruck doing a wheelie).

Going back to the number keyboard method, we see that I placed the banana (39) on the outside of the square (and therefore 17, 71, 79, 97, 93, 13 and 31 should be placed outside), but the giraf (17) was placed inside the square. That is a violation of symmetry, that may cause confusion. On top of that it makes it more difficult to distinguish between for example 17 and 28; the giraf would probably be better used as representing number 28.

But what about 2 digit numbers with “0”?

Some of you may have already questioned what on earth are we supposed to do with 2 digit numbers with “0”. On my computer at work (at home I have a laptop without a square number keyboard) the “0” key is underneath the “nine numbers” square. This positioning in my opinion will not be very usefull for this system. I propose a more flexible approach; the location of “o” is always outside the square but it depends on the number combination. Again, distuinguisable variation and sysmmetry need to be respected.

Some examples of “o” combinations:

01 = a rhino hitting the lower left corner of the square;
03 = a big hamer hitting the lower right corner;
70 = a spear shooting out of the upper left corner of the square;
30 = a dolphin escaping the square underwater prison and shooting into the freedom of the ocean.


short update:

I have finished the system. I have created multiple categories that feel very intuitive.

some examples of categories:

Cutting of a corner from the number square category:
When you draw a line through number 4 and 8 on the number keyboard, you are essentially cutting of a corner from the number square (same with 84, 86, 68, 62, 26, 24 and 42); some examples:

  • 48 = an ax;
  • 86 = a utility knife;
  • 68 = a chainsaw.

Objects that fit in the corners of the number square category;
all positive twin numbers (11, 22, 33, 44,…) are represented by objects that simply occupy a place inside the square (00 is a plane flying outside the square), the corner objects are chosen because they resemble the shape of the corner; all of them:
11 = a square (rabit) cage;
33 = a carton of cornflakes;
77 = a square shopping crate;
99 = a geo triangle.

Objects that are thrown into a basket category:
55 is a waste basket; all the other numbers ending with 5 (except for 05 which is a helicopter landing in the middle of the square) are objects thrown from the first digit key into the waste basket, like:
15 = a basketbal;
25 = a tennisbal;
45 = a birthday cake;
85 = a coffee cup.

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More updates and some out loud thinking:

I have learned all objects, but some take some time to trigger. I find it difficult to surpress my tendency to read the numbers as words (like I did in my previous memory methods) and when I do manage this, I realize how much of a handicap it is to speak Dutch; In the Dutch language 34 for example is pronounced as vierendertig, literally four and thirty. This makes typing numbers (real or in my imagination) really akward.

combining 2 systems

So, I imagined it would be a good idea to combine the New memory system for fast translation of numbers (out of all the number to word methods I have tried, this one feels the most natural to me) with the number key board method; and therefore change the number keyboard into a letter keyboard. So the number 0 to 9 are replaced by o, l, n, m, k, s, b, t, f and g.

linking words with the objects

The objects I chose for my new system are not related to the words I get when I “read” the numbers, but it seems that when I make some kind of logical connection between those words and the objects it will only enhance my performance.

Some final speculations on this hybrid method

When I"m at work and I want to do a stock inquery of an 8 digit item that I got from the “lost and found” area I sometimes make a mistake, like:
item number 78341948 is supposed to be translated as tafmaklagkaf, but when I walk to the computer the final part of the number may change in kag (49, not 48). The (number/letter) key board pattern, however has a completely different feel to it, so I think it may possibly act as an error correction mechanism.

I’m guessing that the combination of reading numbers as words and at the same time translating into key board patterns will improve my ability to hold a large number of digits in my short term memory. But time will tell.

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As I was reading this post and your replies containing images for numbers, I found it helpful to “tap out” the number on the table in front of me. So instead of thinking “34”, I would just tap out with my fingers where 3 and 4 would go. Not sure if this will help you out or if it’s just for me, but thought I’d share. I really like the idea behind this system!

Also, my idea for 0 was for it to be a floating point vertically above the other numbers, centered over number 5. So for example 50 could be a flagpole, 02 could be a slide, 04 could be a waterfall, etc. (of course these are arbitrary, you can do them based on what you associate each digit with). But I have to say I really love this idea for a system, definitely haven’t seen anything like it before!

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That is pretty much how I did it in the beginning. And even though it seemed to be working I came to the realisation, that:

  • reading numbers as words and translating them into objects is probably faster than this typing method;
  • the typing interferes with the visualisation of the “movie” scenes I’m trying to create.

In case you missed it: I have changed this system to one that is based on reading numbers as words, but with the layout of the number keyboard (Number keyboard 2 digit system 2.0).

So for example 50 could be a flagpole, 02 could be a slide, 04 could be a waterfall, etc. (of course these are arbitrary, you can do them based on what you associate each digit with).

I have in fact een flagpole representing number 78 (it flips out of the left wall and covers the full area of the number 7 and 8 keys. I also have a couple of slides with some famous people sliding down and up; the problem is the positioning as it feels to complicated to visualise the right pathway, so I have to make them more simple. I like the waterfall idea, maybe i substitute one of my slides for a waterfall.

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