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2010/07/29

Handwriting Recognition

Jeff Atwood went on about Speech Recognition and how, despite what Star Trek says, it's not likely to become a major mode of computer interface. Not that I've done much with speech recognition, but it sounds about right to me. Honestly, when I want to tell the computer something, I want to poke it with my mouse or trackball or type at it with a keyboard. (When I want it to tell me something, I am not against having it talk to me. I have written a script that makes a time string that's much more friendly to Festival. ("Eleven 55 A M")


Toward the end, Jeff goes on about handwriting recognition, starting with the Apple Newton.
I learned Palm's Graffiti handwriting recognition language and got fairly proficient with it. More than ten years later, you'd expect to see massively improved handwriting recognition of some sort in today's iPads and iPhones and iOthers, right? Well, maybe, if by "massively improved" you mean "nonexistent".
There is a point I think he fails to consider. Apple Newton's handwriting recognition was trying to recognize your handwriting. Graffiti was more about you learning to write the variant of the letter set that Graffiti could understand.

You could take notes on a Palm, if your concept of "taking notes" is "Get eggs on way home". But, if your idea of taking notes was "I'm taking a Senior-level networking course with Comer and don't want to use a paper notebook", you could not really do that on a Palm. The key is that it's faster and easier to type, especially if you can use a dictionary and do lookahead guessing of what you're trying to type. (Although my wife has problems with her Blackberry understanding what she means.) Typing won out in the marketplace of portable items because it's easier to do at speed than handwriting recognition.


But, considering the lineage of the iPhone, it makes me wonder. "Handwriting recognition. Is there an app for that?"