Handwriting Recognition

In a story on this week’s On The Media, the guest pointed out that Apple’s Newton was a flop due to its poor handwriting recognition. It would have been easy enough to let the point pass, but it got me thinking. With all of the energy put into handwriting recognition over the various generations of products — from the Newton, to Palm OS with its “graffiti”, to the Microsoft tablet PC — today’s premier hand-held devices don’t even bother. Instead of a stylus, we use touchscreens and on-screen keyboards or miniaturized keys. Has handwriting recognition ever become a significant or valued feature in consumer electronics? Perhaps it was just not a worthy idea in the first place.

2 thoughts on “Handwriting Recognition”

  1. Andrew, I used a Casio agenda before it got wet and all inside dissapeared. Then bought a Pilot 5000 512KB and learnt how to use Graffiti. It was a fast and efficient way of inputting info. Rather than the machine recognizing your handwriting you would learn a pattern of strokes the machine had in mind.

    It worked wonderfully to me. I moved to a Handspring and kepts Graffitting and then moved to a Sony Clie and finally to a Treo 650 and installed software to allow me Graffiting rather than typing. The good thing of Graffiting to me is that I am going to need the stylus to move around the menus anyway (Palm menus are not shortcut efficient) so I would just use it to Graffiti. If you plan on writing with the keyboard with both hands but you have the stylus in your hands somewhere it gets annoying.

    So in my opinion having the user learn a specific Graffiti was a good and useful idea.

    My 2 cents.



  2. Thanks for chiming in, Luis!

    I have no doubt that Graffiti was useful for some people..my question is whether it was useful for most people. I am assuming, perhaps wrongly, that because iPhones and gPhones and Blackberries don’t ship with it, most people are using touchscreens and minikeys.

    Who is using Graffiti today, and in what devices?


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