Wearable Tech World Feature Article
May 02, 2013

Carnegie Mellon Researchers Develop Text Input for Tiny Touchscreens

If you keep abreast of wearable technology trends, it’s possible that you’re waiting for your very own pair of Google Glasses. If you don’t have the cash and the patience, maybe you’re more focused on your very first smart watch, or wearable computer designed with Dick Tracy or Maxwell Smart in mind.

Many wearable computing experts agree that, despite the hype of Google Glasses, wearable personal computing technology is more likely to take the form of smart watches in the near future. These devices will let you read e-mails and text message, provide you with alerts, check the weather or navigate you to an address.

One major drawback of smart watches, however, is the means of inputting information. The touch screen keyboards on smartphones are bad enough with their teeny-tiny keys. Who could possibly cope with entering text on a touch screen two inches square?

The answer is “no one.” Now, however, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have designed a text entry solution called ZoomBoard for ultra-small computers such as smart watches. It’s a way of making a mini touch screen keyboard usable by taping on the screen once or twice to enlarge the keys, Wired reported yesterday.

The onscreen keyboard has a QWERTY layout, while a secondary keyboard with numbers and symbols can be accessed with an upwards swipe. Swiping right enters a space, a swipe to the left deletes a character, and by holding a key for moment longer you can capitalize it, according to Wired. (You can watch a demonstration of Zoomboard here on YouTube.)

While it may not let you write an entire report without losing your mind, it could at least allow you to send text messages and e-mails with minimum frustration.

As computing devices get smaller, the concern has always been the means of input. In the near future, we may see smart watches that are voice-enabled in the manner of Apple’s Siri personal assistant, but we’re not there yet.




Edited by Alisen Downey




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