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New data input mechanism

 
 
Reply Wed 10 Sep, 2008 10:44 pm
New startup Swype was a runner-up in the recent techcrunch50 conference. It is a "revolutionary" new way to input for touchscreens.

Basically, instead of typing each individual letter, you draw a line across all letters in the word. To end the word, you pick up your finger (or stylus). It's a very interesting idea, but I really don't know how much better it is then normal OSK (on screen keyboard) inputs.

From there demo, it seems like their algorithm for determining what you are typing is very good. However, I think the same algorithm, adapted to a tapping input method, would be the best.

I understand that taken to an extreme, swype could be faster, because you only have to "tap" once per word, instead of once per letter. However right now I would say we are far from tapping being the speed bottleneck, so the point is kinda moot. Plus tapping I feel is more intuitive, and is easier for double letters, punctuation, and the like.

What do you think, am I wrong, will this be the primary input of my future phone?

P.S. - Don't get me wrong, I thought the technology looked cool when I saw it, but I thought the same thing when I first saw Palm's graffiti input. Heck, I still think graffiti is cool looking, and a neat idea. In reality though, its not the best way to input, and I don't think swype is either.
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Nick Ashley
 
  1  
Reply Wed 10 Sep, 2008 10:46 pm
Here is a video of their demo:

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Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Wed 10 Sep, 2008 11:59 pm
@Nick Ashley,
That's a very interesting concept but the algorithm seems to be language-specific. It's basically the same as the predictive text algorithms with different input. Within any one language you are going to have situations where it's not clear what word you are typing, and if you aren't typing a dictionary work (like an email or url) it likely won't work well at all.

And don't even get me started if you write in multiple languages!

Palm's Graffiti still hasn't been surpassed as a mobile input. I learned it within 2 days in the 90's and haven't used it regularly for years but can still intuitively write in graffiti faster than any other mobile output I've ever used (including hardware keyboards). I can do almost as fast as a basic typist on a full-sized keyboard and when I'm using it regularly I can input almost as fast as I can write on paper.

The real problem with graffiti is that you need a stylus.
Nick Ashley
 
  2  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 12:45 am
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:

And don't even get me started if you write in multiple languages!

They say its possible in the demo, and that they have a bunch of different languages you can easily switch between. They didn't actually show it in action thought. The guy was also entering phone numbers with parenthesis quickly, but of course he has has alot of practice with it.

Quote:

I can do almost as fast as a basic typist on a full-sized keyboard and when I'm using it regularly I can input almost as fast as I can write on paper.

Really? That sounds crazy-fast. I couldn't find any solid data comparing average wpm acheived using various input devices, but it would be very interesting. I wonder if your claim that Graffiti still hasn't been surpassed is accurate.

All I could find was 10 year old data from a company touting it's own 'fitality' input method. Here is shows OSK and Graffiti being equal, with fitality far surpassing the both of them. I don't trust this data at all, however.
http://www.fitaly.com/palm/domperignon.htm

Quote:

The real problem with graffiti is that you need a stylus.

Why? Why can't it be used with a finger using a designated area of a touchscreen device, like in the area where an OSK would typically go?

Part of input speed is preference, and what you take time to learn. This is why I think OSK's are popular, as its nothing new to learn.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 01:09 am
@Nick Ashley,
Nick Ashley wrote:
They say its possible in the demo, and that they have a bunch of different languages you can easily switch between.


As long as the algorithm is language based, you'd need to be writing words they have in their dictionary though, and switching between languages is a pain even if they support them.

Quote:
They didn't actually show it in action thought. The guy was also entering phone numbers with parenthesis quickly, but of course he has has alot of practice with it.


Well it may not be dictionary based, I'm haven't looked into that specifically yet and am guessing. I didn't watch that far either, so do you know if the parenthesis were just automatic formatting or if they were input by the user?

Quote:
Really? That sounds crazy-fast. I couldn't find any solid data comparing average wpm acheived using various input devices, but it would be very interesting. I wonder if your claim that Graffiti still hasn't been surpassed is accurate.


I don't claim that it's the fastest, I'm sure that there are other faster ones and I bet the thumb-based hardware keyboards are the fastest for mobile. I just think it's the best that I've used and given that it was the first it feels like a champ to me, as I haven't found a better way in all the years since. I think there are other methods that may allow for more wpm but they were much harder to adapt to for me (like the weird OSK layouts). I used to write extensively on my first Palm with graffiti (which I think was not actually in the 90's but early 2000's).

I never did any wpm tests but I think I was doing well over 30wpm. It was about as fast as I could write as long as I was doing composition, and not transcribing.

Quote:
Quote:
The real problem with graffiti is that you need a stylus.

Why? Why can't it be used with a finger using a designated area of a touchscreen device, like in the area where an OSK would typically go?


Yeah, but I can't move my finger as fast as a stylus and it would take up a lot more room (on my palm I think it used less than a square inch for letters and then another box for numbers).

Note: we need to fix these stupid quote line breaks.
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Izzie
 
  1  
Reply Thu 11 Sep, 2008 01:20 am
@Nick Ashley,
Hey Nick

mmmmm..... I just don't see how Swype would be seriously faster than tapping? I watched the video and really, am not too sure about it. I like tapping.

Did it have a "prescriptive" text too.... as for your mobile? I'm not sure how simple it would be for "caps" "equations" etc - anything other than standard text

mmmm.... would need to be convinced I think - but then - it seems we are attempting to speed up our world immensely - and I'm not so sure that "average joe" needs to speed up - all personal choice I suppose. For some I would imagine it will be the next new thing.... I like tapping...... before that I liked dialing!
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