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Will QWERTY become obsolete?

 
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Kleuter
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PostPosted: Saturday, 20.Oct.2012 14:48    Post subject: Will QWERTY become obsolete?   Reply with quote   

"Samsung's Galaxy Note products will support a nifty new handwriting recognition technology provided by the firm Vision Objects. In doing so, it's reaching out to an unlikely adopter: the paper-loving Luddite."

The way humans have interacted with information over the centuries has been with paper and pen. This form of interaction is absolutely perfected for human use. My personal expectation is that as technology matures we will get back to this pattern and loose the keyboard concept for casual users. The keyboard will get back to where it once belonged.... power use(rs) like secretaries journalists, writers, clerks.

So if this Vision Objects application on something like a Galaxy Note would work well and be well integrated with the app's, why would you need a keyboard or a communicator like form factor?

http://www.fastcompany.com/3002110/voice-recognition-pshaw-samsung-bri ngs-handwriting-recognition-smartphones-tablets
http://www.visionobjects.com/
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Saturday, 20.Oct.2012 15:14    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

The BEST handwriting recognition I have ever used in my life was on UIQ phones. The recognition was extremely reliable, fast, the way it worked was nearly perfect (e.g. there was no separate screen area for writing, one could write anywhere on whole screen, and it worked with whole words or even sentences). I have not seen any better HWR implementation since then. It was so good that on the P800, P900, P910 or P990 I was using almost exclusively HWR for text input, even though the P910 and the P990 also had hardware QWERTY keyboards built-in. The HWR was simply faster and nicer to use.

But it is also worth adding that also Nokia had HWR technology on their platforms. Handwriting was supported by the Series 90 platfom (Nokia 7700 & 7710) and by Maemo Internet Tablets. And then also on S60 5th Edition, but the implementation on that platform was really bad and hardly usable.

I severely miss UIQ's hardwriting recognition on every new smartphone I get, even now after almost 10 years since the P800.
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PostPosted: Saturday, 20.Oct.2012 19:51    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Michal Jerz wrote:
(e.g. there was no separate screen area for writing, one could write anywhere on whole screen, and it worked with whole words or even sentences).

I guess you could write anywhere, but that it inserted the text at the screen marker? Or could you write very tiny and have text inserted anywhere? I guess it will need a stylus to be perfect. I don't think I can write detailed enough with my fingers on my N9. Did it work well with cursive styles?

Anyways it's not something trivial to implement. Most free OCR-suites struggle even with printed machine-letters. Some of those free suites could probably be ported to the N9, but they aren't good enough to bother. Except maybe for scanning english(and a couple of other well known languages) printed text with your camera.

Handwriting recognition either recognise text or don't which you discover before sending. A good handwriting recognition could probably be about as good as the regular hardware keyboards for phones(N950, N900, N97, etc). That is, if the stylus is easy to use about as fast as a good pen.

I think I saw mentioning of a prototype from about 2006/2007 which had an optional projected keyboard on a flat surface you could type on. As I haven't seen such things later I think it either was a dream or that it was too expensive or too hard.
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PostPosted: Sunday, 21.Oct.2012 01:20    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Quote:

I guess you could write anywhere, but that it inserted the text at the screen marker? Or could you write very tiny and have text inserted anywhere?

Once you tapped on a text input field in which you wanted to enter some text, you could then write anywhere. Another nice feature was that the screen was (invisibly) divided into three horizontal parts, one for typing uppercase, one for lowercase, and one for digits. Even if you wrote a lowercase letter (or word) in the uppercase part, it was automatically converted to uppercase (and vice versa)... Maybe it sounds complicated, but it was really easy to get used to and it made typing even easier and faster.

The text was recognized as you were writing - while you were writing a word the system was recognizing each letter you wrote at the same time, so you didn't need to wait after each character, you could just continue writing. If you were writing quickly, you could finish writing an entire word and see how the system recognizes each letter in the background. You could even start writing another word before the previous one got recognized entirely. And that's on a slow 156 MHz processor, so we can only imagine how it would work now on 1 GHz+ CPUs...

Yes, HWR on UIQ 2.x and 3.x worked with stylus, but finger (or any other thin object, e.g. I was sometimes using a toothpicker if I forgot the stylus Wink ) could also be used, it's just that using a finger the text you were writing was bigger and thicker, so you could fit much less characters at once, but that's the only difference. And UIQ phones in early 2000s had resistive screens so they required applying some pressure (not a problem with stylus, but in case of a finger you needed to use the fingernail) - I guess that on a today's capacitive screen writing with a finger would be easier as no pressure would have to be applied.

Quote:

Anyways it's not something trivial to implement. Most free OCR-suites struggle even with printed machine-letters.

And that's where the UIQ HWR really shined. It was truly a HANDWRITING recognition and it really didn't have any problems with recognizing WRITTEN text. As I wrote, I haven't seen a better HWR engine since then. Mis-recognized characters were really a rare thing and all you had to do in such case was to swipe from right to left (a gesture for cancelling a character) and writing it again.

Quote:

I think I saw mentioning of a prototype from about 2006/2007 which had an optional projected keyboard on a flat surface you could type on. As I haven't seen such things later I think it either was a dream or that it was too expensive or too hard.

You probably mean the virtual Bluetooth laser keyboard from iTech. It was not just a prototype. It was available commercially and it also supported Symbian UIQ and S60 phones. The following picture shows it working with the UIQ 2.x based Sony Ericsson P800:

http://martinlittle.com/gallery/2003/latest/large/Foto28.jpg

I've played with that keyboard at the Symbian Exposium in London in 2003 or 2004. It felt a bit strange, but it worked well.

http://www.vkb-support.com/documents/guides/UserGuideSymbian60.pdf
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PostPosted: Sunday, 21.Oct.2012 19:40    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

The best alternative to the virtual Bluetooth laster keyboard today I can think of is the Synergy's client-server approach. I think it's time for me to see whether it compiles and if so make a nice UI for the client. It allows you to share your mouse and keyboard strokes from your synergy-server to another supported system with a synergy client. Keep in mind that it's shared unencrypted though so never use it on a public WLAN for private data, passwords,etc. Using the USB as a network-cable(SDK mode in harmattan) should be pretty secure.

I think the market for any platform with a healthy app-store, or ability to install from non-app-store sources could sell the UIQ HWR for at least $50, maybe $100 from your description. As an OCR tool for scanned documents it would probably sell for $200-$400. I don't know how hard it is to port/rewrite though. I don't know whether it's possible to make a "replacement" for iPhones virtual keyboard like writing the text in a separate application that can send it to the text-messaging or email application. Harmattan would probably only need a new engine for it's maliit-framework, but the user base is too small for any applications in the $50+ segment.

I don't know if anyone have all the required intellectual property for it and at the same time is concious about it. Maybe they licensed it for that specific OS.
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Sunday, 21.Oct.2012 20:34    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

I have no idea who has the rights to that HWR engine. It was used only on UIQ phones, so it was probably owned by UIQ Technology. I don't even know what's the current legal status of the whole UIQ platform, let alone its HWR component...
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PostPosted: Monday, 22.Oct.2012 06:54    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Michal Jerz wrote:
I have no idea who has the rights to that HWR engine. It was used only on UIQ phones, so it was probably owned by UIQ Technology. I don't even know what's the current legal status of the whole UIQ platform, let alone its HWR component...


It might also have been licensed. UIQ ownership was transferred to Symbian Ltd/Foundation and thus, I think, Nokia owns it.

Anyway, I don't recall the P800 HWR being particularly fast (or the P800 being a particularly fast phone). Anyway, it was about 10 years ago, so the details are probably fading in my mind...
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Monday, 22.Oct.2012 15:21    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Quote:

UIQ ownership was transferred to Symbian Ltd/Foundation and thus, I think, Nokia owns it.

Rest in peace, UIQ... Crying or Very sad

Quote:

Anyway, I don't recall the P800 HWR being particularly fast (or the P800 being a particularly fast phone).

The problem with Sony Ericsson (and Nokia too) was that they were ALWAYS using the SLOWEST possible processors and the LEAST possible RAM memory... It's only thanks to Symbian's architecture and efficiency that those phones worked at all, but most of them were really sluggish... Yet another Symbian phone manufacturers' sin which led to Symbian's eventual death.

Even in the beginnings it was really bad, but over time it got even worse...

Launched in 2002, the P800 had an ARM9 156 MHz processor, which even at that time wasn't a performance champion. PocketPC devices (like the XDA) were using 206-300 MHz processors already then. And with Nokia it was even worse, as all 92xx Communicators had..... 52 MHz processor and the 7650 (and its successors) had a 104 MHz one. Nokia started using 150 MHz CPUs only in 2004.

Sony Ericsson kept using the ARM9 156 MHz CPU throughout its entire UIQ 2.x family of phones (P800, P900, P910), i.e. until..... 2005. At that time, PocketPC devices started using 520 MHz processors...

In the first UIQ 3.x device, the P990, announced in 2005, Sony Ericsson used an ARM9 208 MHz processor, and.... kept using it in *ALL* UIQ 3 phones, i.e. until.... the end of 2008, even in the last UIQ based phones (like the G900). CPU frequency of PocketPC devices reached 640 MHz or so by then...

In other words, between 2002 and 2008 (seven years!) Sony Ericsson only managed to increase the processor speed in their UIQ phones from 156 MHz to 208 MHz (i.e. by ~ 25%) while PocketPC devices TRIPPLED their processor frequencies during that time...

So the speed of UIQ's HWR was badly restricted by UIQ phones' dramatically underpowered HARDWARE. I guess that on an up-to-date hardware it would have been silky smooth...

Yet it was still extremely ACCURATE and much easier and nicer to use than the systems using a separate screen area or entry field for HWR...
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