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Microsoft Research Produces Graffiti-Style Keyboard for Android Wear

Tim Maytom

microsoft keyboardMicrosoft's research division has produced a keyboard app designed to work with Android Wear products.

Rather than attempting to recreate a standard keyboard-style input on a smartwatch-sized screen, the app uses gesture input, enabling users to "write" directly onto the screen one letter at a time, similar to the Graffiti writing system used by Palm Pilots at the turn of the millennium.

The app was produced by Microsoft's Analogue Keyboard Project, and is currently only available to download for research purposes. It is still in the initial development phase, and so needs to be installed using Android Debug Bridge, and only recognises lowercase writing.

In the project description, the team behind the app notes that "(h)andwriting, unlike speech, is discreet and not prone to background noise. And unlike soft keyboards, where many keys have to share the small touch surface, handwriting methods can offer the entire screen (or most of it) for each symbol. This allows each letter to be entered rather comfortably, even on small devices."

While there are only limited uses for keyboards on Wear applications at the moment, with most currently serving as a bridge to smartphones or tablets, as wearables become more widely used, text entry for messages and similar functions will likely be a key hurdle to tackle.

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