Back in the 1990s, typing out “hello” on most cell phones required an exhausting 13 taps on the number keys, like so: 44-33-555-555-666.
That was before inventor Cliff Kushler, based here in Seattle, and a partner created software called T9, which could bring that number down to three by guessing the word being typed.
Now there is a new challenge to typing on phones. More phones are using virtual keyboards on a touch screen, replacing physical buttons. But pecking out a message on a small piece of glass is not so easy, and typos are common.
Kushler thinks he has a solution once again. His new technology, which he developed with a fellow research scientist, Randy Marsden, is called Swype, and it allows users to glide a finger across the virtual keyboard to spell words, rather than tapping out each letter.
While many smart phones have features that auto-complete words, correct typos on the fly and add punctuation, Kushler is aiming for the next level. “We’ve squeezed the desktop computer, complete with keyboard and mouse, into something that fits in a pocket. The information bandwidth has become very constricted,” Kushler said. “I thought, if we can find a better way to input that information, it could be something that would really take off.”