Monday, June 06, 2011

The End of QWERTY

I've never learned to type. You might think that, for someone who writes, this could be a handicap. It is.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. I took a typing class once in high school but it didn’t take. Like anyone with a handicap I developed my own work around. I may not be fast but I eventually get the job done.

The good news is that technology is finally coming to my rescue in the form of Swype. Swype is the most significant development in typing since spell check. It is basically a form of artificial intelligence that figures about the word you are typing before you finish typing it. It doesn’t even require you to spell it correctly. The Swype website says “the patented technology enables users to input words faster and easier than other data input methods—at over 40 words per minute. The application is designed to work across a variety of devices such as phones, tablets, game consoles, kiosks, televisions, virtual screens and more.”

I first experienced Swype with my Droid X and unlike my attempt to master QWERTY, it took. Unfortunately it is only on my phone. On my laptop I am still stuck in QWERTY land which is why I was encouraged by this column about advances in voice recognition software by Clive Thompson in Wired Magazine. Clive writes that “voice recognition revolutionizes how we capture ideas. We might talk at 200 words a minute, but we can jot notes at only 25 or 30 words a minute (and many people type at that pace, too).”

“Imagine how interesting things will get as dictation tech becomes better, cheaper, and more omnipresent. Your computer or phone could save a rolling text buffer of every conversation and even your idle chatter, so when you realize days later that you need to recover an important thought, it’s there, as a searchable text document.”

Then again, I think that technology is still not ready for prime time.
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