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Carnegie Mellon Offers Wee QWERTY Texting Tech For Impossibly Tiny Devices

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the cool-solutions-to-weird-problems dept.

Input Devices 100

coondoggie writes "If smartwatches and other ultra-small devices are to become the text generators of the future, their diminutive keyboards are going to have to be way more useful for, um, big fingered typists. Carnegie Mellon researchers may have the answer to that problem. Called ZoomBoard, the text entry technique is based on the iconic QWERTY keyboard layout." The zoom board paper (PDF) has details. Entering a letter becomes a multi-step process; first you mash the general area of the keyboard containing the letter you want, and eventually it becomes large enough to hit. Test subjects managed to hit 9.3wpm after practice, versus 4.5 wpm for people trying to peck on a teeny-tiny virtual keyboard. They were inspired at least in part by the venerable Dasher input method.

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Not as good as Morse (4, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year and a half ago | (#43599971)

People should just learn Morse code, only one button. It's the original text message tech.
And good Morse code operators go vastly faster than a mere 9.3 world per minute.

Re:Not as good as Morse (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600093)

You joke (or half joke, can never tell on the net) but THIS, this right here, is why the PC and laptop will NEVER die, trying to input text on one of these little devices is an exercise in frustration and irritation. Hell I'm a two fingered typist (got some fingers broke in a bike wreck and while they play bass decently the curve that the joints are set in don't respond well to typing) and I can positively fly low on a regular keyboard compared to a 100 WPM touch typist on one of those little mini-key jobs, which needless to say is frustrating as hell for them. Dragging along a BT keyboard of course becomes more bulky and a bigger PITA than just carrying a little laptop so we are right back where we started.

I've seen everything from virtual keyboards to the "spin the thing until it lands on the right letter" and frankly nothing has even come close to a full size keyboard and until they do i just don't see anybody giving up their desktops and laptops, no matter how much the OEMs (and MSFT) want to force us onto "ecosystems" where they control everything and get a cut of every sale, it might be good for them but the interface just sucks.

Re:Not as good as Morse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600273)

You know your input method sucks when it's worse than Morse code.

Re:Not as good as Morse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600529)

Google already did this.

Gmail Tap [google.com]

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600653)

Google already did this. Gmail Tap [google.com]

Cool! Google "upgrades" to Morse Code!

Was that an April 1 post?

Re:Not as good as Morse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43606549)

omg flol! I WANT THAT!

Re:Not as good as Morse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600319)

If only there was some other input method.

Like say speaking to your device.

Re:Not as good as Morse (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600481)

Speaking to a device is great an all, except that it's entirely impractical in many of the places where typing currently takes place. In an office environment, we'd all be drowning in a cacophony of noise that would shatter our concentration if we had to type up every TPS report verbally. And we already know from cellphones and Bluetooth headsets that people find it hard to ignore others (not to mention annoying) when only one side of the conversation can be heard. Plus, there's also the fact that privacy goes out the door when you have to vocalize everything you're writing.

At best, speaking works for people that are in a personal space (e.g. a car interior, a private office, a basement under mom and dad), but not really anywhere else.

No, what we need is something else.

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600729)

Dragging along a BT keyboard of course becomes more bulky and a bigger PITA than just carrying a little laptop so we are right back where we started.

The problem with a notebook is that the keyboard is permanently attached, and none of them have a back facing camera.

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

chispito (1870390) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600877)

Why does a notebook need a back-facing camera?

Re:Not as good as Morse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43601041)

So you can spy on the other people at the coffee shop?

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#43604067)

Why does a notebook need a back-facing camera?

So you can take pictures of the blackboard, or the presentation. It's a little hard to get zoomed in on the right spot with a front facing notebook camera.

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601749)

And you NEED a back facing camera...why exactly? hell if i know but it takes less than 4 seconds in Google to find a snap on cam, you can use BT or USB, your choice, that will face any way you like and have a HELL of a lot better resolution over the tablet cam as long as you don't buy the cheapo shit.

But its NOT the users i see pushing for this shit, its the manufacturers because they see mobile as a cash cow where they control the ecosystem and even when you upgrade, simply by making the latest and greatest not supported on that phone or tablet model. Most users i talk to have no desire to do everything on some itty bitty phone screen and they treat tablets like big PMPs, hell the ONLY reason I would argue that laptops and PCs in general is facing a downturn is the core wars have made even the $300 Worst Buy special insanely overpowered compared to what folks actually do so they simply see no reason to upgrade.

But you can't stuff 50 pounds of shit in a 20 pound sack and you can't get a comfortable typing experience on these little fuckers, you just can't. Hell most of my customers had a hard time typing on the 7 and 10 inch netbooks,the 12 inchers seeming to be the sweet spot, these little micro bastards just ain't gonna cut it friend, they just suck for anything longer than a tweet.

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43602245)

The problem with a notebook is that the keyboard is permanently attached, and none of them have a back facing camera.

You can get a transformer, or you can get one of the many notebooks with a flip-over camera. I like the Lifebook T900, which has many other features we expect to see in modern computers, but it is a bit massive by modern standards.

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601117)

If only there were some way to connect a keyboard to a device that does not have one.

Re:Not as good as Morse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43602697)

Article: We have a new way to input text that doesn't suck.
You: Everything I have seen before sucks, so this must suck too.

How are we supposed to make progress if you evaluate things in this manner?

Re:Not as good as Morse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43604341)

I can touch type on an ipod held vertically because of muscle memory, and that's pretty good, but I don't know if it can get any smaller than that.

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600143)

It's also an early example of data compression, with more common letters generally having shorter forms than uncommon ones.

I tried posting this IN morse, but Slashdot thought it was lame. I think they're right!

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

bradgoodman (964302) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600257)

Steep learning curve aside - not a freaking bad idea! I think the drawback is - people who do Morse fast don't actually use a "button" - they use one of those bigger clickity-clackity things that seem to allow them to go faster. A simple "button" might slow them down - at least a bit.

Re:Not as good as Morse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600475)

Autokey. Those are called an autokey. Generally, you push to one side for a "dit" and to the other side for a "dah". The length of each dit is configurable, as is the rate of ditting (wha?). Everything else builds from there. (Dah is 3x the length of dit. The signal gap between each dit/dah is 1-dit. The character gap is 3-dit. The word gap is 5-dit.)

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600533)

The "modern" input equivalent is chording keyboards --- instead of a "single bit per tap," you use combinations of several fingers to produce even higher data rates. Steep learning curve, indeed, but people who learn to use them can type blazingly fast on a rather small input device.

Re:Not as good as Morse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600421)

That could actually work. If you're left handed, imagine a four button keyboard, arranged so your middle finger is over a button for dot, your index finger over a button for dash, the thumb over the button for space/accept predicted word, and your ring finger over the button for delete last letter/word.

Would *definitely* spend some time learning that, hmm, might even make it if it doesn't exist.

What about Swype? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600451)

I type so fast using Swype it's almost no different from being at my desktop. Longer words are actually easier to input -- the gesture based system works remarkably well alongside some sort of personalized/learning algorithms.

Re:Not as good as Morse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600813)

And it only requires one button, so Apple should support it.

Re:Not as good as Morse (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43603641)

9.3 words a minute is absolutely abysmal. Stephen Hawking does better than that. Though granted he is a genius unlike the people who would buy a keyboard smaller than a penny.

Seriously? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600003)

I've never really sat down and assessed how slowly I type on a phone, but 9.3 wpm is more than a factor of 10 from my keyboard typing speed. Why have we decided that stupid tiny keyboards are a good idea?

Re:Seriously? (0)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600037)

Why have we decided that stupid tiny keyboards are a good idea?

You don't have a keyboard with you if you are on a train or bus. This is the replacement for a smart phone, not your desktop PC. Still, 4 or even 9 wpm (words per minute) seems a little slow? I've seen kids text on the old phones (before touch screens) faster than that.

Re:Seriously? (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600133)

You do if you're carrying a netbook. They have keyboards you can get a decent typing speed on.

Re:Seriously? (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600169)

You do if you're carrying a netbook

Except they stopped making netbooks [slashdot.org] because tablets are better than netbooks for the majority of people.

Re:Seriously? (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about a year and a half ago | (#43615185)

No-one's told Asus [amazon.co.uk] or Acer [amazon.co.uk] then?

Re:Seriously? (2)

afidel (530433) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600285)

Or carry a smartphone with a full 5 row keyboard, with swype I can probably do 10-20 wpm with corrections, with the hardware keyboard probably 30-40. I'm really quite perplexed by the fact that hardware keyboards aren't more popular considering that kids spend most of their time on the phone texting/IMing.

Re:Seriously? (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600287)

True, but the whole quest is to make a device smaller. You cannot carry a netbook in a pocket (or you actually can, but some people have really small pockets!). I also carry a backpack with a small laptop... a small laptop has many advantages over smart phones or even tinier devices (multiple usb ports, a larger screen, and I can have my favorite distro on it) but some other people think there's a market for tiny devices. Let them. It's nice to see they are finding a solution to one of the more fundamental problems of making things smaller: humans are big and clumsy.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600205)

You did with slide-out keyboards on phones like the HTC Desire Z, but apparently the fad is to design a touchy smudgy piece of crap that turns frustration and lack of efficiency into an art form.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600331)

the keys on a slide out keyboard are smaller than the on-screen keys on a virtual keyboard (because they can't change function contextually).

Re:Seriously? (1)

neminem (561346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600399)

Yet they're still orders of magnitude easier to use... (because you can't accidentally hit several keys around the one you were trying to hit. You either press the right key, or nothing.)

Re:Seriously? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601071)

It is quite slow, I remember back before I learned to touch type, that I could hunt and peck at around 35wpm, and even somebody of low skill ought to be able to do at least 15wpm with some practice. Anybody doing less than that hasn't had much practice and is having to hunt over the entire keyboard without any clue as to roughly where the keys are that they're needed.

Re:Seriously? (0)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600043)

Why have we decided that stupid tiny keyboards are a good idea?

Because not everybody has the room to carry around a Bluetooth keyboard, nor the chance to sit down and use them. If you want to type something while standing in the checkout line, where will you put a full-size keyboard?

Re:Seriously? (1)

Tarlus (1000874) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600677)

It really begs the question of what could be so important to type that it needs to be done while standing in a checkout line.

(On another topic: your sig is feeding the trolls.)

Re:Seriously? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600883)

Your wife knows you're at the grocery store, sends you a text to remind you of buying milk and you need to text her back with "1 or 2%?".

Re:Seriously? (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601209)

IMO while people having long (and sometimes VERY personal) conversations in the grocery line is annoying, a call that's basically (from the shopper's side) "Hi, honey, 1% or 2% milk? Okay, see you soon. Bye." is fine and probably takes less time than typing out the text and the other party doing the same. [The % character is likely going to require switching between keyboards letter->symbols and back again.]

Re:Seriously? (0)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600971)

It really begs the question of what could be so important to type that it needs to be done while standing in a checkout line.

The grocery list?

(On another topic: your sig is feeding the trolls.)

On another topic: your post is feeding the Grammar Nazis. It raises the question. Begging the question [wikipedia.org] means something completely different, and certainly not what you intended.

Re:Seriously? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601095)

Grow up, begging the question is the same thing as raising the question, it means that something somebody has said begs further questions to be asked. Begging the question is something completely different and it's contextually clear which one the GP was intending.

Re:Seriously? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601149)

I should have been more specific. The second begging the question is the logical fallacy. The first is just the phrase that means raises the question.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601211)

The first is just the phrase that means raises the question.

The first is wrong.

Re:Seriously? (1)

knarfling (735361) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601693)

The second is wrong. "Begging the question" as a logical fallacy is a mistranslation of a Latin term. (Your signature would leave one to believe that you would be less favorably inclined towards the group basing their phrases on mistranslations of Latin.) The term is better translated as "Demanding the first principle" and is better understood today as "Circular Reasoning."

Just because people have been doing it wrong for hundreds of years does not mean that we have to purpetuate that wrong. Language evolves. Language is designed to help convey understanding between individuals. I would argue that the first is better understood by more people and the second more confusing. Therefore the first is better at accomplishing the design of language. It is time to rename the second to a more descriptive term that is better understood by more people and stop berating people for using the term "incorrectly."

Re:Seriously? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about a year and a half ago | (#43602367)

No, it's not. Apart from hardcore pedants, everybody else accepts it as a legitimate meaning for the phrase. Bottom line is that things like this mean what they do by consensus, not because people refuse to recognize newer definitions.

And I suppose you don't accept that "literally all the time" does not necessarily mean constantly.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43601055)

Who says it needs to be important? As long as you are moving forward in line and are ready to interact with the clerk when it is your turn, so you are not impeding the line, what else should you be doing? It doesn't take much importance to be a higher priority than staring at the candy bar rack or tabloids.

Re:Seriously? (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43608315)

It really begs the question of what could be so important to type that it needs to be done while standing in a checkout line.

It's not necessarily the ability to type in a checkout line. It's the ability to read something to pass the time in a checkout line, and I've found that inconvenient with a laptop. The advantage of a device with no permanently attached physical keyboard is that you can use it without the keyboard for reading when you're sure that you won't be doing any heavy-duty typing. It's true of a tablet, true of a phone, and probably true of the smart watch that the article appears to imply.

Re:Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600347)

Because tablets are dieing, laptops and netbooks are dead, and no one is alive that remembers tower computers.

Dialing Wand (1)

Kooonsty (1365027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601609)

To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now

Old news or is it just me. (0)

Barryke (772876) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600079)

Slashdot, you are now the one and only, lonely, single entry on the "watching a recast of yesterdays news unfold" category of bookmarks.

Backwards (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600159)

Love seeing all the old fogies retire and a bunch of hipster faggots replace them. We can see technology moving backwards as expected.

The fucking iPhone soft keyboard is the shittiest piece of shit ever. The fact they don't scroll the text input dialog until you stop typing was added to increase the annoyance and to ensure backwards movement in usability.

The summary on this story sums it all up. Sounds like a total fucking cluster fuck just to put some novelty e-waste shovel-ware garbage on the market.

You go to such great fucking lengths to improve the input capabilities, and it's still shit. Maybe you should go back to the fucking drawing board. Better yet, through the fucker out because a "smart watch" is a stupid idea as long as it's taking input from a fucking hacked up keyboard.

NO FUCKING WAY! Captcha: teletype

So to sumarise (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600283)

Love seeing all the old fogies retire and a bunch of hipster faggots replace them. We can see technology moving backwards as expected.

The fucking iPhone soft keyboard is the shittiest piece of shit ever. The fact they don't scroll the text input dialog until you stop typing was added to increase the annoyance and to ensure backwards movement in usability.

The summary on this story sums it all up. Sounds like a total fucking cluster fuck just to put some novelty e-waste shovel-ware garbage on the market.

You go to such great fucking lengths to improve the input capabilities, and it's still shit. Maybe you should go back to the fucking drawing board. Better yet, through the fucker out because a "smart watch" is a stupid idea as long as it's taking input from a fucking hacked up keyboard.

NO FUCKING WAY! Captcha: teletype

So to sumarise: Someone improved something that you don't want and don't use and that didn't impress you.

Re:So to sumarise (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600379)

Also, research & trying new things to see if they work is not necessary. Everything was done in the 60s.

GP probably looking for a job in NSF administration.

voice control (1)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600195)

Why not get rid of the keyboard altogether and have voice control?

Re:voice control (2)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600455)

Because you might not want everyone in the room to hear the message you're sending.

Re:voice control (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601577)

Heck, if the government already cant see all that you type, people that you don't know and could put you in big trouble (or at least, big inspection next time you go to an airport) if don't get the joke [theblaze.com] of something you said, why can't the people around you, that you already know?

Re:voice control (1)

kmoser (1469707) | about a year and a half ago | (#43612443)

It could just read your lips, HAL-style.

Re:voice control (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600547)

Why not get rid of the keyboard altogether and have voice control?

Consider the following searches:
"best hemorrhoid cream"
"pubic lice shampoo"
"best lubricant for anal"
"does insurance cover generic viagra"
"vaginal odor treatment"

When you're at the pharmacy (or on the subway on the way there), would you prefer to enter those searches via keyboard or voice input?

Re:voice control (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600991)

Most people wouldn't do that in public regardless of the input. Shoulder surfers et al.

Re:voice control (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600775)

Lack of privacy is a big one, as others have pointed out.

It gets hard to concentrate if everyone in the office is talking at once.

In public spaces, we already know that people get annoyed when they can only hear what sounds like one side of a conversation (see: cellphones) since it breaks from the natural back-and-forth that our brains expect and can easily ignore. How much more annoying to just have someone prattling on constantly?

The keyboard does a number of things that speaking is ill-suited to handle. For instance, consider a line that's familiar to most of us here: "public static void main(String args[])". When spoken, it would be "public static void main open parenthesis string args open square bracket close square bracket close parenthesis". Oh, and I forgot to capitalize string. Oops. Gotta go back and do that. Verbally.

Re:voice control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43601001)

Or better yet, why not extend a laser keyboard onto your arm? Much larger keyboard, same size package on your wrist.

Still slower form of text entry than pretty much anything else, because you're restricted to one hand, but c'est la vie.

Re:voice control (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601265)

Or better yet, why not extend a laser keyboard onto your arm? Much larger keyboard, same size package on your wrist.

Still slower form of text entry than pretty much anything else, because you're restricted to one hand, but c'est la vie.

I think many people on Slashdot know perfectly well how quickly one can type with just one hand.

For example, I was just eating my lunch with one hand and typing with the other and while it was slower than typing with two, it wasn't that slow. It was likely faster than the 9.something WPM cited in the summary.

Timex/Sinclair (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600443)

Smartwatches? Keyboards? Time to resurrect the Timex/Sinclair brand!

brain mapping dystonia (2)

ankhank (756164) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600449)

This is guaranteed to screw up people's ability to accurately place their fingers.

Same reason I turn off AutoCorrect -- because when the user can just wave and poke at the approximate area of the keyboard -- and get the right letter supplied -- the brain fuzzes over its map of the keyboard and the finger placement becomes imprecise. Or rather exactly precise enough to get the desired result -- which is pretty damn sloppy when the computer's taking care of the final accuracy.

'oogle brain mapping dystonia -- lots of academic work on this, it's a serious problem.

Sorry, CMU, this is going to cripple people if you implement it.
Not right away, it'll take some time before the damage is apparent.

PS, so let the damn computer learn to read script (2)

ankhank (756164) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600503)

If the computer's good enough to get the right letter out of a vague approximation of position on a mini keyboard, it ought to be able to read my handwriting.

Want to do input on a tiny little area or just by waving your hands in the air?

Penmanship. Just make the computer able to read handwriting.

Re:PS, so let the damn computer learn to read scri (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600595)

Hand writing recognition has been a reality in mobile device for at least the last ten years. Probably longer but I couldn't cite a source if I was asked. It wasn't a bad idea when people were carrying around PDAs but with today's smartphones the stylus is a drag.

The ability for a smartphone to translate handwriting isn't the problem, the form factor of the phone and people's endless desire to carry less is.

Re:PS, so let the damn computer learn to read scri (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600707)

Also, writing a letter takes a lot more effort than pressing a key.

Re:brain mapping dystonia (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43603003)

I turned off autocorrect on my Android phone because it constantly filled in the wrong word. This as opposed to Word, which rarely did.

Maybe it was the higher error rate, or maybe it was too dumb not to correct proper nouns, who knows? But off it went. And his problem irritated me to near death within a few sentences, it was so pervasive.

Re:brain mapping dystonia (1)

ankhank (756164) | about a year and a half ago | (#43604247)

Is that an "autocorrect what you typed" feature, or an "autocomplete before you type anything more" feature?

Yay technology! (4, Funny)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600485)

Isn't it amazing how great the advancement of technology is for device usability! Now people can type at an amazing *9.3* words per minute! It's hard to imagine how we ever got by back in the old days, when a casual typist could only achieve 30-60 WPM --- uphill through the snow both ways barefoot. Progress!

Re:Yay technology! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43602263)

It's hard to imagine how we ever got by back in the old days, when a casual typist could only achieve 30-60 WPM --- uphill through the snow both ways barefoot. Progress!

In the old days, the only keyboard on your watch was for a calculator and maybe address book. It is pretty amazing how great the advancement of technology is for device usability - not having to hit a shitty tiny membrane key three or four times to get a letter is a significant advance in watch technology.

Re:Yay technology! (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43602521)

Old and broken:

Darn, I'd like to type this message up, but my computer terminal is all the way over in Sector W. It'll take me 8 minutes of walking, just for 2 minutes to type and send the message.

New hotness:

I can send a message right from where I am, on my watch! All I have to do is fiddle with my wrist for 12 minutes, and voila, instant gratification!

All the advances in wristwatch IO are fixing problems created by insisting on doing stupid shit on a wristwatch that a wristwatch isn't any good for. Looking forward to future technological advances, like:

Shaving by burning my hair off with a hot clothes iron used to be incredibly painful... but with advances in rapid temperature control, my new techno-iron can singe off my hair with 78% less third-degree-burn scars, while reading me live updates from my twitfeed!

Re:Yay technology! (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43603273)

All the advances in wristwatch IO are fixing problems created by insisting on doing stupid shit on a wristwatch that a wristwatch isn't any good for.

One day we'll all have natural voice DWIM interfaces and then this problem will be moot. Until then, some people will be trying to solve the problem of letting people make their devices do the things they want to do. It would be nice if we all had access to a big screen and all the input devices we could ever want no matter where we went, but until we can pull them out of a pocket dimension we're still going to want to use small devices to do jobs that could better be done with a large device if only we had someplace to store it that did not involve the rectum.

Re:Yay technology! (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year and a half ago | (#43603489)

Someday, when new snazzy technology catches up to the point of actually improving over older systems, I'll sign up too. For a tiny fraction of the population, perhaps the bleeding-edge whizzies already do offer something useful (...at least points on the conspicuous consumption fashion scoreboard). However, I see a lot of people leaping two steps back to grab that one step forward promised by the latest-and-greatest micro-doodad.

Hey, I'm gonna burn six hours of my wages per month on a fancy smartphone contract, so I can twit my facebook angrybirds in the grocery line! Timesaver! And now I've got way better things to do while driving than watch the boring road!

This might be better than nothing... (2)

beaverdownunder (1822050) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600539)

but I'm sure hopeful there are better input methods than this!

Thumbscript (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600625)

I preferred Thumbscript myself. True it only works for a certain number of languages since it is based on 3-digit combinations for glyphs. (well, 2 since everything goes through the middle, for the most part)
Image of the basic idea here [tinypic.com]
It could be expanded on BY adding 3 digit combinations as well, but it would also increase complexity.
You could probably dynamically show characters you could create from the current button press to the next button press, but that'd get really complex.
In the similar idea behind Dasher, you could use smaller and smaller letters the deeper they are. (I loved dasher as well. Dasher is fantastic.)

I made an implementation on numpad to see how well it worked and it wasn't half bad. Took a little while to get used to, but quite a few keys were shaped like the movements on the 3x3 grid, which helped.
And for those who might want an implementation, I cannot right now, but here is a similar one on AHK forums that doesn't look that bad.
AHK forums - thumbscript beta [autohotkey.com]
It is an old post though. And I think AHK went through a huge change in syntax a while back, but not sure if it was before or after this post was made. I think, by looking through the syntax of the code in question, it should work.

This is the problem (2)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600695)

On screen keyboards suck, period.

Having to tap several times to get to the key you want is a nuisance. This will be the one thing that ruins any new smart watch device, assuming you must type text on the screen using a keyboard to interact with it.

At some point you have to accept that just because it has a screen and processor in it along with wireless communications does not mean it has to become a social platform or even one that requires text input.

If app designers for new smartwatch devices are thinking about solutions for how to solve on-screen typing they have already failed. There is a reason why phones are moving to larger and larger screens because people find text input on smaller screens a horrendous experience. A small 2" watch screen is not going to have any adequate method for text input, so don't bother with the functionality.

I don't see why we need smart watches, but we need them even less as a social/texting platform.

Re:This is the problem (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | about a year and a half ago | (#43602163)

I can type well over 30 wpm using the Swift Key on screen keyboard on my phone which is faster than a fair amount of people using a regular keyboard on a PC. I am not some sort of freak with my fingers, the predictive software is just that good.

Re:This is the problem (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43603069)

Onscreen keyboards would be OK if they actually did less.

Give me arrow keys right there, so I can scroll the cursor to where I want instead of trying to press a seven hundred square foot fintertip between two hugging ants.

Stop "helping" me with backspace. I will decide when to release, not you. I don't want you erasing the entire 500 word essay because I held it down for 5s. Especially without an undo. Mac solved this problem 30 fucking years ago.

"It seems'" says Morpheus, "that those idiot programmers who don't learn from history are condemned to repeat it...dragging everyone else along with them."

Re:This is the problem (1)

locopuyo (1433631) | about a year and a half ago | (#43604013)

Swift Key has the arrow keys.

Re:This is the problem (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#43603075)

A thousand times this.

Just write on the screen (3, Insightful)

doconnor (134648) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600717)

The old Palm watch came with a tiny stylus that let you write on the touch screen using their Graffiti system. A normal palm had a separate part of the screen for writing. The watch has some why of switch the screen from tapping mode to writing mode.

handwriting recognition (2)

highlander76 (901551) | about a year and a half ago | (#43600967)

For the size of the displays in the paper would a simple box for tracing letters and better handwriting recognition software be better?

Why not an input-wheel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43600995)

Around the mid to late nineties, Sony made a mobile phone called the CM-RX100. It was pretty innovative for it's time. It was one of the smallest mobile phones you could get at the time, utilizing a flip-down boom mic to save space. But the most unique feature of the phone IMHO was a scroll-wheel, similar to the wheel on your mouse, that was located on the side of the phone. You used it to scroll through menus, and you pressed the wheel down to select a menu item. It was very effective, and allowed pretty quick navigation through the system. If this was utilized to enter text, by scrolling through a visual alphabet wheel, and then pressing to select the letter or symbol, it could result in a quick input method without sacrificing the already limited screen real-estate on a smartwatch.

It should be called... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43601101)

...the Masher input method. ;-)

It's early texting all over again... (1)

Doghouse13 (2909489) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601539)

...except that, instead of hitting the same key a variable number of times, you'll be hitting the screen multiple times (i.e. until you manage to focus in on your target). Perfectly do-able, but not ergonomically ideal.

Siri (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43601787)

Why use a keyboard when you can use Siri?

Re:Siri (1)

SpectreBlofeld (886224) | about a year and a half ago | (#43605847)

Why have a smartwatch at all when we already have very capable smartphones - not much bigger than a deck of playing cards - that easily fit in a pocket?

Why qwerty? (2)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#43601901)

Using the input method of a bulky device (whose letters were ordered that way to not let you write too fast to avoid jamming of mechanical parts) with fixed letter positions for very high tech, digital small devices, with no mechanical parts that could jam could not be the best approach.

Maybe entry could be arranged like in compressing algorithms, having the most common letters and words right at your reach (few bits/touches) and you could navigate to more uncommon ones that fits in your input. Or handwritting recognition, but with extended "alphabet" (where you can have different gestures for i.e. common words). Or hardware keyboards with soft keys.

Re:Why qwerty? (1)

SomePoorSchmuck (183775) | about a year and a half ago | (#43602279)

Using the input method of a bulky device (whose letters were ordered that way to not let you write too fast to avoid jamming of mechanical parts) with fixed letter positions for very high tech, digital small devices, with no mechanical parts that could jam could not be the best approach.

Maybe entry could be arranged like in compressing algorithms, having the most common letters and words right at your reach (few bits/touches) and you could navigate to more uncommon ones that fits in your input. Or handwritting recognition, but with extended "alphabet" (where you can have different gestures for i.e. common words). Or hardware keyboards with soft keys.

Yes please for the love of god can we kill QWERTY on small-form keyboards? Putting three vowels right next to each other is a major annoyance. bug/big/bog, suck/sick/sock, un/in/on, if/of ..... so many common words that can end up wrong by just a couple millimeters, in such a way that autocorrect will never catch them.

Re:Why qwerty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43603879)

people have been trying different approach stuff for two decades. problem is that nobody wants to use them. chording keyboards, two analog sticks.. alphabetical layout.. palms gestures... you can get some pretty stupid kb replacements for android if you want, too.

"Maybe entry could be arranged like in compressing algorithms, having the most common letters and words right at your reach (few bits/touches) and you could navigate to more uncommon ones that fits in your input." uhh, that's how predictive text input works in just about every phone on the market now.

Re:Why qwerty? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year and a half ago | (#43604917)

My idea was more of the "few keys, but very dynamic" kind. But probably will be a hell to try to type in something where what are in each position changes every keypress, and even more with your fingers blocking view.

Re:Why qwerty? - Try MESSAGEASE @ 84 wpm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43604507)

"the most common letters and words right at your reach"

MessagEase Keyboard on Android does exactly this. I've never looked back to ridiculous QWERTY since trying it. Takes a bit of getting used to, but worth every minute. One thumb operation is easy even on a Galaxy Note; it is a tiny square and highly adjustable, it does not have elaborate alternative keyboards for numbers etc, and it is in the Guinness Book of Records at 84 wpm. QWERTY on a small screen? It is like putting tractor tyres on a Ferrari.

Re:Why qwerty? - Try MESSAGEASE @ 84 wpm (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year and a half ago | (#43621415)

Yep, MessagEase is awesome. But when I found out that the Palm Graffitti is available an Android I switched to that.

Why not make the screen bigger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43602921)

Since it seems people are demanding bigger and bigger screens (heck, The day phones were bigger than penises [gizmodo.com] came a month ahead of schedule [buzzfeed.com] ), this seems to be a technology looking for a reason to exist - given the popularity of big screen phones (and the Galaxy Mega [gizmodo.com] is no slouch) and how people seem to want bigger screen phones, it seems the problem will solve itself naturally. Well before it starts appearing in products, anyhow.

Make fingers smaller. (1)

notknown86 (1190215) | about a year and a half ago | (#43603771)

Just suprised no-one has thought of this solution before. Acedemics, pfft!

Bluetooth? (1)

longbot (789962) | about a year and a half ago | (#43605769)

I've found phone-sized on-screen keyboards almost completely unusable. So much so that I tote around a Bluetooth keyboard with my phone when I think I'll have cause to enter a lot of text. What is with this trend of making devices' input options so fucking horrible? Remind me why we did away with the rather elegant solution of using styluses on touch screens?

And to anyone who says "use speech recognition"? It doesn't work for me. I get atrocious (70%+/-) accuracy with it due to my gravelly voice.

Nothing new here, ask anyone in China (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43613639)

That 'hit key and choose the letter option that comes up' is how Chinese computer users have to navigate our QWERTY keyboards. SInce Chinese has many characters, hitting any letter on a keyboard brings up a choice of characters on menus that go deeper and deeper. That's the way I understand it but, of course, any readers who've had experience can correct me.

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