'Swype' Program Could Simplify Typing on Smartphones
New technology could eliminate some of the frustration associated with typing on cell phones' virtual keyboards.
Called Swype, the software program registers what letter a user's finger is hovering over – albeit for a brief moment – before flying off to another letter. The program intuits the word that the typer intends, and the swiped paths over letters is sufficient to form a word without each single letter having to be tapped distinctly in turn.
If Swype sounds like T9, the predictive feature for phones whose numerical keypads double as text inputs – where the number two codes for the letters A, B and C and so on – it's no accident: both ideas come from Seattle-based inventor Cliff Kushler.
Along with a partner, Kushler created T9 back in the 1990s. The feature now appears on some four billion phones worldwide, the New York Times reported.
Kushler thinks that Swype, developed with another researcher named Randy Marsden, is the next evolution of the T9 concept.
“We’ve squeezed the desktop computer, complete with keyboard and mouse, into something that fits in a pocket. The information bandwidth has become very constricted,” Kushler told the Times. “I thought, if we can find a better way to input that information, it could be something that would really take off.”
Kushler said that Swype can accelerate even the most fleet-fingered text messager's word-generating pace by up to 30 percent.
The technology may see service wherever virtual keyboards and touch screens are found, from video games to ticket kiosks.
In its native phone market, Swype can currently be used on seven smartphones across all carriers and is expected to be on 50 models globally by the end of the year.
Looming large for Swype's goals as a company in the touchscreen arena is, of course, Apple, with its triumphant iPhone and iPad . There is no agreement yet to speak of, but Kushler said he will be approaching Apple soon.
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