Monthly Archives: December 2011

7Notes: Turning thoughts into words and pictures

 

All keyboards aside, what are we really trying to do here — take our thoughts, ideas, other people’s thoughts, save them… and share them.

There are two major problems doing that with a set of alpha-numeric keys: First, you are stuck recording all of your ideas verbally. Sometimes an image is worth a thousands words, and when all you have is a set of keys, your stuck cranking out those words instead of a doodle.

Second, when you’re typing, all of your notes are linear. This can be problematic when you want to make an outline of the content and jump around a lot (very difficult). And linear notes also don’t take advantage of our spacial memory.

For these two reasons and many more, pen and paper have been king in note taking scenarios, which is why I’m always on the look out for new “drawing” methods of note taking, especially when they’re digital. A digital drawing environment gives you the benefits of pen and paper, while adding searchability, “savability”, and all the other 21st century “abilities”.

As tablets become more popular, I think we’re getting closer to replacing paper (at least for the ‘haves’ side of the digital divide). And with tablets, i.e. touch screens, we have a whole new market for software based data entry methods.

7Notes is one of these new crop and as Tech Crunch puts it: >Recognizing handwritten text isn’t trivial, which is why a new app called 7notes focuses almost entirely on this problem–and does the job really well.

In addition to doing a good job at recognizing handwriting (check out TC’s review to see how good), 7Notes also offers some extra nifty features including:

  • Predictive typing
  • Formating with color
  • Mixing text with images
  • Annotating images
  • “Social Doodling” which is the ability to share and edit other people’s files

So if this sounds like it’s right up your alley, or you have been looking for an excuse to try out that new stylus that you bought with your iPad, check them out. They have a free and premium version for the iPhone and iPad (sorry, only premium gets you hand writing recognition).

So get scribbling and tell us what you think.

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By Elliott Williams

2,521 Comments

Filed under Innovation, Interfaces, Mobile

Snapkeys: Somewhere between “driving blind” and “using the force”

Well I never thought I would be stumped by a keyboard (or non-keyboard), but there’s a first for everything. After watching the video, I was left with phrases like “imaginary interface” and “faster than a pc keyboard” in my head — strong claims I know, but claims aside, the concept is pretty interesting.

You can’t tell from the video, but there are four keys and the whole alphabet fits into one of those four. You have one key that represents any letter that stands on “one point” (think F or V or T), one key for letters that stand on two points (W or N), letters that stand on a wide base, and letters that have a circle in them.

There are plenty of benefits to having only four keys: The target sized can be so large, that error is almost completely wiped out. In fact, the target sizes can be so big that you don’t even need to see the keys. That’s why they can tout the “invisible keyboard” monicker.

Sounds confusing right? It’s actually not. They have a demo on their website that is pretty convincing. After typing 4 words I didn’t need to look at the keys anymore, but your mileage may vary. And if you ever get confused, there’s always the visible mode.

Despite how fast I picked it up, I’ll have to hold out to see if: 1) this is vaporware, and 2) how good the prediction engine is. With only four keys, the machine needs to pick out of 6 different characters each time you type a letter, so the AI must be strong with this one.

The good news is that this company is trying to get their keyboard onto every smartphone company… The bad news is they have no expected release date.

Stay tuned for more, and if you have any other tastey details about Snapkeys, please leave a note in the comments.

via ubergizmo

Contributed by Elliott Williams

2,218 Comments

Filed under Innovation, Interfaces, Mobile

FrogPad: Turn your Magic Trackpad into a one handed keyboard

Magic Frogpad Frogpad is the one-handed keyboard that keeps on truckin’. It’s a simple sticker that overlays your Apple Trackpad – turning it into a all-in-one mouse+keyboard input device. Brilliant! Here’s the run down of the Frogpad concept:

  • Single handed use – left or right (but keyboards are “keyed” to a particular hand so you can’t switch once you buy)
  • Studies show new users reaching speeds of 40 words per minute in 10 hours, versus the 56 hours (conservative estimate) needed for QWERTY
  • 80 percent of most commonly used words can be typed with the 15 keys that don’t require “cording” (i.e. multi-finger combos)
  • There are multiple letters/numbers/punctuation  on each key, so some “cording” is required
  • On the downside – it doesn’t have that critical “command” key for all those other killer keyboard shortcuts

When I broke my wrist and had to wear a brace for 6 months, this all seemed pretty great. The physical version of the Frogpad was the only major contendor against lefty dvorak. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to spend 130USD on a new keyboard considering my condition was temporary.

Since then, they seem to have ceased production of all of their physical keyboards, and have started printing keyboard layouts that you can overlay on your Apple Magic Trackpad. This might suggest that they aren’t getting the traction they hoped for, but despite low levels of adoption, if you still want to give a one handed keyboard a shot, ugly-fying your trackpad with a proprietary sticker at the same time, go right ahead. The sticker and software only cost 14.99USD so it’s a pretty painless way to move beyond the clunkiness of QWERTY.

Have you tried the Frogpad? How do you rate the one-handed typing experience? How long did you take to adjust to the new letter layout?

 via ubergizmo

By Elliott Williams

3,670 Comments

Filed under Innovation, Interfaces