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Portables Technology Hardware

Next Generation T9 Keyboard Technology 150

Iddo Genuth writes "Cliff Kushler, the inventor of the T9 keyboard technology for numeric keypads, has developed a new alphanumeric entry technology for touch-screen laptops and Smartphone devices. This latest technology, named Swype, works with an on-screen QWERTY keyboard similar to ones found on Windows Mobile and the iPhone. The difference from the usual method of typing in the letters is that a finger or stylus is used to slide in the first letter, then without lifting the finger, the user continues writing the entire word. Only once the word is completed can the finger be lifted off. According to the developers, this leads to a much faster way of 'typing,' or as we might call it soon, 'swiping.'"
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Next Generation T9 Keyboard Technology

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:15PM (#26275761)

    "Swyper no swyping"!

  • swipe post (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    first swipe

  • Finally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anthony_Cargile ( 1336739 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:17PM (#26275783) Homepage
    Touchscreen keyboards to me have always been hard to use. On both the plasma-screen smartboards at my friend's A/V workplace and the ones I've seen in modern (i.e. well funded) high schools, the windows on screen keyboard and the keyboard prepackaged with the smartboard software is just terrible, partially due to the heat-sensitive surface being activated wherever my finger's heat first hits it, i.e. NOT where I wanted it to be.

    This looks much more promising, and will hopefully be preventing the smartboard users from running back to a physical keyboard just to type something after using the mouse in front of the actual screen.
  • Dvorak? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by XanC ( 644172 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:18PM (#26275801)

    All these virtual keyboards are hard-coded for QWERTY, which makes even less sense for that kind of device than for a modern keyboard!

    Dvorak should be an option, along with alphabetical order.

    Actually for this thing, there's probably a whole new layout that's optimal. (That's an exercise for the reader to invent.)

    • Re:Dvorak? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:32PM (#26275949) Journal

      say what? Dvorak keyboards are great if you want to type in what amounts to two different languages, and it's designed to accommodate speed and efficiency for ten fingers, not one finger and two thumbs.

      If you are going to break away from the standard qwerty keyboard, why not try to do something that makes sense for two thumbs and a finger? Understanding that you would have two circular areas for common keys, and best to have them arranged so that you get best efficiency switching between thumbs on alternating letters.

      T9 is meant for touch tone keypads, this swipe is designed for efficiency on soft keyboards. If you want to maximize efficiency for thumbs, start all over again please.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Specifically concerning the iPhone, I think it would be better to use a regular telephone keypad instead of a whole QWERTY keyboard. There would be space for bigger keys. I'd have an easier time just pressing each number until I got the letter I wanted, rather than pressing the smaller QWERTY keys only to have the wrong letter typed. Combining T9 with the telephone keypad would make it even better.
        • I like the number-pad thingy, but I don't like having to press the same key 6 times.

          1-2 should give a capital "A" while 3-2 should give a capital "C" and 6-2 should give a lower-case "c"; 7-2 would just give a "2".

          Also, the iPhone's prediction algorithm is f'ed.

        • The Storm does something like that. In portrait mode, it defaults to SureType (2 letters per "key" in a QWERTY-like layout), and in landscape it goes to full QWERTY.

      • Instead of dvorak, linotype would probably work quite well. http://www.wired.com/images/article/full/2007/07/0703_dayintech_full.jpg
      • Optimization for two fingers may be similar to the one stylus optimization done for the Palm desktop a while ago. : http://www.fitaly.com/palm/palmfitaly.htm [fitaly.com]

      • by adisakp ( 705706 )
        FWIW, I think 1 finger (one hand holding the device, the other using a finger), 2 thumbs (both hands holding using thumbs), or 1 thumb (same thumb as holding hand - i.e. 1-hand input) is better than 2 thumbs + 1 finger (which I can't figure out how that would be useful).
        • The Sidekick allows you to use both hands to hold the device, two thumbs typing, and also has two buttons for fingers much the same way that nintendo game controllers do. It is possible to use more than thumbs with the two hands holding the device posture.

    • Re:Dvorak? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anthony_Cargile ( 1336739 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:33PM (#26275957) Homepage

      Actually for this thing, there's probably a whole new layout that's optimal. (That's an exercise for the reader to invent.)

      Introducing the patented, copywritten hunt-and-peck touchscreen keyboard! Perfect for touchscreens of all types, and optimized for the elderly! And as an added bonus, pay shipping and handling to receive 2 hunt-and-peck keyboards! Only 2 easy payments of $19.95!

      and one very difficult payment of $49.99

      Order now!

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward


        ARGH! The inner Grammar Nazi within me screams in a bloodied rage.

        copywriting [wikipedia.org] is completely different from copyrighting [wikipedia.org].

    • Re:Dvorak? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:39PM (#26276013) Homepage

      Having been in mixed Dvorak, Qwerty, and Abcdefg environments, and having been on a quest for the ultimate keyboard for the past 10 years, I'm pretty confident that Qwerty is *good enough* until something truly different comes along.

      Dvorak *can* run a little faster than Qwerty for typing, but not so much that you'd see an appreciably speed increase for nomal use. And as Dvorak has been around for about 80 years now [earthlink.net], I don't think anyone is getting in on the wave of the future by using it. Similarly, you'd be surprised how hard it is to use an alphabetized keyboard after years of Qwerty or Dvorak usage. The brain just doesn't change over that easily.

      Unless an alternative layout increased speeds 100% or so, I'd keep things accessible. Just use Qwerty, and move on.

      • The point of dvorak is not typing speed, but keeping your hands on the home row as much as possible. I typed on Dvorak exclusively the last few years, it's made my wrists feel a lot better. But I don't type faster, perhaps a bit more accurate.

        Also, with the ease of changing it in most OSes, I don't think it's anything but personal choice anymore.

        If you want something that may be better, try the Neo layout though. It's for the german language, but it may be good for english as well:
        http://de.wikipedia.org [wikipedia.org]

        • by kv9 ( 697238 )

          I typed on Dvorak exclusively the last few years, it's made my wrists feel a lot better. But I don't type faster, perhaps a bit more accurate.

          do you have some numbers? on a QWERTY layout I seem to have about a 2% error rate (assuming a backspace press counts as one error -- probably more like 0.2-0.5%, because I tend to smash the backspace key multiple times when fixing errors). my sample size is ~20M keypresses.

          other interesting numbers would be:

          • space - 10%
          • a - 7.5%
          • enter - 5%
          • keypad 5 - only 1 press out of 20M

          I doubt Dvorak would help with speed or accuracy in my case. and the QWERTY layout has never given me any hand trouble, while I do ge

          • Nah, I don't have the numbers you want. Most analysis goes towards words. For instance, I would recognized that Dvorak generally isn't optimal for coding c and c style langages either although I use lisp mostly and in that, Qwerty & Dvorak are identical, as it would be for the space, a, enter, and keypad keys.

            I found the English Neo layout site, it has more numbers scrolling down, but it's generally considering words, as well:
            http://pebbles.schattenlauf.de/layout/index_us.html [schattenlauf.de]

      • You might want to look into Colemak [colemak.com]. It is touted as being better than Dvorak.
      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        Sure, just ignore many keyboard layouts [wikipedia.org] out there.

    • Re:Dvorak? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by i.of.the.storm ( 907783 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:39PM (#26276015) Homepage
      This might be the optimal layout: HexInput [strout.net]. Or at least, it's designed to work in a similar manner to what's described.
      • Thats rather good. Would work on the Wii, too.
        • I think for the Wii onscreen QWERTY keyboards aren't that bad, but the thing has USB ports, so if I were ever to do anything that involved a lot of typing (eg. Wii Linux) I would probably just plug in a USB keyboard. No need to find ugly hackish workarounds when there's a simpler solution, IMO. I think the HexInput idea would work pretty well on the DS though, and maybe other handhelds like the PSP, but onscreen QWERTY will always have the advantage that people are used to the layout.
          • but onscreen QWERTY will always have the advantage that people are used to the layout.

            Only for hunt-and-peckers.

            I touch-type, and I have to search the keys in the virtual keyboard of my cell. That's because when I type I don't think in the keys but in the whole word and it then appears in the screen.

            For people like me, an alphabetical order is way more natural. I totally know that order.

      • Try Fitaly ( http://www.fitaly.com/palm/palmfitaly.htm [fitaly.com] ). I've used it on the Palm, and it really is quite nice, once you get used to it.

        It also uses a swipe method to determine capitol letters, so no shift key is needed.

    • by evanbd ( 210358 )
      You mean FITALY [wikipedia.org]?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mollymoo ( 202721 )

      Dvorak is designed for efficient touch typing. Virtual keyboards are inherently poor for touch typing (you can't feel which "keys" your fingers are hitting), and most are too small to even attempt it. If you could convince me there is a significant proportion of people who known Dvorak but can't even type one- or two-fingered on a QWERTY I might believe that there is a real need, but I suspect that group of users is vanishingly small.

    • Seems to me like QWERTY is actually a superior layout for this application. The stroke length difference seems like it would be more or less insignificant, and spreading out common letters, I'd imagine, would make it easier for the predictive software to make the right predictions.
    • Dvorak should be available; colemak too.
    • Actually for this thing, there's probably a whole new layout that's optimal. (That's an exercise for the reader to invent.)

      The guys over at ShapeWriter have already beaten you (me?) to it.

      They call it the ATOMIK keyboard layout, and there's a short demo here [shapewriter.com]. The learning curve is probably a little steep, but I would guess that it's less than learning QWERTY, partly because you're allowed to look at the keyboard the entire time. :)

    • Well, when I was a wannabe Palm hacker, I always saw the need for an onscreen keyboard that didn't follow the QWERTY layout. (I always believed that there was a more speedy way to input things than drawing each letter one at a time) This layout is anything but optimized for one-finger-or-pen-point-swiped-input. So in my own search for perfection, I collided with the ATOMIK keyboard and relevant thesis from IBM research ( 1 [ibm.com], 2 [ibm.com], 3 [ibm.com]) Unfortunately, English is just my second language so anything optimized for Eng

    • I would think that, since this input method is based on moving a finger between letters in a continuous motion, it would probably be a Good Thing if commonly used letters were far apart, or far enough apart to make each character entered a long enough "swipe" to feel natural and ergonomic.

      I am a bit curious about how you were to type a word like "letter," where you need to make 2 "Ts" at once. Maybe after you enter the first T, you do a little loop and end up where you started.

      You can, by the way, get a

    • by Jay L ( 74152 ) *

      Actually for this thing, there's probably a whole new layout that's optimal.

      Yes, and it's already been invented a few times:

      • ATOMIK [ibm.com] from IBM, which became SHARK, which became ShapeWriter, available on the iPhone
      • FITALY [fitaly.com] from Textware, available on PPC and Palm
  • WritingPad (Score:5, Informative)

    by blacklint ( 985235 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:23PM (#26275851) Homepage
    I've had an iPhone application for quite a while that uses this. It's called WritingPad, and the about screen has a link to http://shapewriter.com/ [shapewriter.com].
    • Seconded. Shapewriting was invented by Per Ola Kristensson [pokristensson.com] before 2004 [pokristensson.com] (pdf warning), not by Kliff Kushler in 2008. WritingPad has been available on the iPhone for almost a year now. It has even been praised by Time magazine [time.com]. These guys are jumping on the bandwagon. They only get more press since they are "the people who invented T9".
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:25PM (#26275877) Homepage

    Google's ad engine selected "WI Portable Restrooms -- We Offer Portable Restrooms in Every Configuration & Price Range" for this page.

    OK, back to the drawing board on product name.

  • Already exists. I think it was out the first week the iPhone App Store was open. Works pretty decently.

  • I know I've already posted, but as of this post this article is tagged "fuckthegovernment".

    Really /.? I know some of the FOSS people here are pretty diehard, but come on, wtf? What does the government have to do with T9 keyboards?
  • by mTor ( 18585 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @11:34PM (#26275967)
    Take a look at this demo of ShapeWriter from IBM [ibm.com]. It's the same thing as Swype and was invented 5 years ago. Dr Zhai has formed a company around the tech and you can see it here: ShapeWriter [shapewriter.com].
    • by mlynx ( 812210 )
      Why, oh why, do I never have the mod points when something like is it posted. This needs to be modded up.
  • The difference from the usual method of typing in the letters is that a finger or stylus is used to slide in the first letter, then without lifting the finger, the user continues writing the entire word. Only once the word is completed can the finger be lifted off.

    That's kind of like how a Ouija board is operated, isn't it? More proof that Cliff Kushler is Satan, I guess.


  • Patent patent patent! Someone will either be looking to make lots by licensing some "new idea".. or stifling such innovation by use of a patent. Or maybe I'm no longer excited by any invention that wasn't born out of the RFC process anymore..
    • The internet has ruined it for all of us. I can't even get a stiffy anymore unless it involves a girl shitting into a cup.

  • by mdaitc ( 619734 )
    i've been using the writingpad iphone app for months that does just this.
    http://www.shapewriter.com/iphone.html [shapewriter.com]
  • Dasher? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Is this anything like Dasher? The demo can be seen here [youtube.com]
    • by shtrom ( 1251560 )

      Is this anything like Dasher?

      I thought so by reading the post, but the linked articles shows that it's not the case.

      I still think a Dasher-like system may be a viable input system for keyboard-less devices, though. Modulo some fine tuning, of course...

  • Like, everyone needs caps lock don't we? ffs!

  • How does it handle double letters?

    For example, would it type my username as Goobermunch or Gobermunch? How would it know the difference? How does Swyping accommodate the William Wallaces of the world? Are they doomed to being Wiliam Walaces?

    The press release leaves the question open. The ability to detect a repeated input seems to be an advantage of keypad type input. Perhaps, if you dwell for a sufficiently long period of time, it will count the character beneath the stylus twice.


    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I got to try out Swype last fall at the TC50. It's pretty great technology, as I remember to do a double letter you just needed to loop around the letter.

    • For example, would it type my username as Goobermunch or Gobermunch? How would it know the difference? How does Swyping accommodate the William Wallaces of the world? Are they doomed to being Wiliam Walaces?

      I don't know about Swype, but when using Shapewriter [shapewriter.com], an iPhone notepad application that works (suspiciously) similar as other have pointed out, you just ignore double letters. I just tried "William Wallace" on ShapeWriter by tracing "Wiliam Walace" and it came out just fine. If there is an ambiguity

  • I've just created the rotary version - with letters arranged by frequency (E in the center - others further out.) the E-writer or somesuch... or "Summoner" since it looks like you trace pentagrams on the circle. Different enough to get around the patent, I hope :)
    • I had a similar idea, character's aranged in rings growing from the center.

      ! @ # $ % ^ & *
      ( l f k p r z )
      - b g a o v =
      [ c h e * u w ]
      ; d n i y x '

      \ , . ? ! /

      Where A, E, I, O, and U form the center most ring. Inside that ring is a double, shift, space, and backspace buttons. Consinants would have to be arranged meaningfully (I just tossed them up alphabetically and swapped the vowels)

      I'm highly tempted to try writtin

  • Only once the word is completed can the finger be lifted off.

    Better not be dyslexic around devices of this kind, or it'll stick to your finger indefinitely.

    It sure lends the term "StickyKeys" a new meaning!

  • I was thinking about on-screen keyboards just yesterday. I usually avoid them, preferring real keyboards, but I was thinking, if your only choice is on screen, how would you want it to work?

    My real keyboard is optimized to minimize hand and finger movement, by placing the keys I use most commonly near where my hands are supposed to be. However, it is limited by the medium: the keys have to be in the same place all the time. An on-screen keyboard doesn't have this limitation: you can put the "keys" wherever

  • Suretype (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned SureType- the system the BlackBerry Pearl uses. The keyboard is laid out in QWERTY style, but there are two letters per key. This allows for fewer possible words than a T9 per key-press and also allows for faster typing because of the high likelihood of tapping on the same key consecutively or alternating between the same sets of two or three keys. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Blackberrypearl.JPG [wikipedia.org] for a look at the layout.
  • GNOME has better virtual-keyboard. You just type wanted letter and then you start moving mouse towards other letters. It needs and dictionary to know what words you are wanting to type and it predicts the needed letters bigger ones. So you can hit them more easily. You should find it from usability-menu.

  • Shark-like (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ozbon ( 99708 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @05:44AM (#26277987) Homepage

    This looks like the Shark typing method [ibm.com] created for IBM a few years back.

    I really liked the Shark idea when it first came out, so it's good to see something similar again. (Plus Shark worked on non-QWERTY 'boards as well, you just changed the settings on its initialisation)

  • I wonder if this will cause RSI?

    I've lived with RSI since 1993 - you get used to recognising things that do not help ergonomically. This looks like one of those things.

    One of the major problems with RSI is that prolonged activation of muscle groups leads to fatigue. The term for this is static loading.

    This is why click and release mouse behaviour (to activate menus, then click again to choose) is better for your health than the alternative method (click and hold, release to choose) because the alterna

  • by Snart Barfunz ( 526615 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @08:47AM (#26278881)

    As one of the many poor typists out there, I don't see why we still have to choose between looking at the keyboard and learning to touch type. A touch keyboard, detecting my finger positions, could coordinate with a translucent virtual kbd on screen that also displayed my finger positions. The virtual kbd would be made to appear and disappear with appropriate gestures. Addional feedback would include haptic, sound, & 'hover' keys. And, as the whole thing is virtual, it would reconfigure on the fly to cope with any language, which simplifies life for the PC manufacturer. The touch keyboard would still need some kind of display but it could be pretty basic. Oh dear - I hope I haven't described this in too much detail. I wouldn't want some poor patent troll to starve...

  • I don't know what that's called either, but it's been more than great. Each key can be pressed to the left or to the right, resulting in a different letter. What it gives me is a small, full keyboard, no need for T9, and no need for tiny tiny keys like a blackberry or a Palm. I love it :)
    • by Ilgaz ( 86384 )

      It is called "rocker" keyboard. I got a P1i here myself and I believe T9 is involved in the word completion. We are a bit cheating on P1 since the device shows the words on top beginning with the letters we typed. I heard Blackberry was first to use that keyboard variant.

      BTW If you don't know already, the word completion trick is in Settings/Device/Text Input/Predictive Text.

      Of course most P1 users mix keyboard,scroll wheel and even handwriting recognition.

      Really sad thing that UIQ died in hands of Sony and

  • It sounds ok for every day English use, but what about other languages?

    And what if a word is not found? how is the word then typed?

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990