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HP announces gesture-based keyboard

Path-breaking innovation could revolutionize communication in Indic languages


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BANGALORE, March 15, 2006

HP announced revolutionary pen-based technology that allows the Kannada script to be recorded and stored directly on the computer.

The technology could potentially open up the power of computing to vast numbers of new users, all in their own language and without prior knowledge of English or typing.

The gesture-based keyboard, developed by researchers at HP Labs India, also holds the potential for Indic languages derived from the Devanagari and Tamil scripts to be used in a similar manner. That could benefit more than 1.5 billion non-English speaking people, including Indian, Nepalese, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi and other phonetic script users.

Unlike other prevailing Indic language entry methods which either use bilingual keyboards or display the Indic keyboard layout on a monitor, the gesture-based keyboard is a low-cost and rugged solution that helps solve the phonetic language entry problem by allowing users to input data the way most people learn to write – with a pen.

This simple but intuitive data entry method could make it easier to communicate for people who may not understand English or know how to type. Field tests conducted by HP Labs India researchers demonstrated that most people found it easy to use.

“The gesture-based keyboard can help bridge the digital divide by simplifying the use of IT,” said Dick Lampman, HP senior vice president, research, and director, HP Labs. “HP Labs India is working on a wide range of other new information and communications technologies for India and other emerging economies by understanding relevant social, cultural, economic and technological drivers.”

The device is expected to be manufactured and distributed by a third party, based on technology licensed from HP.

“We are delighted that our technology will be reaching the Indian market,” said Ajay Gupta, director, HP Labs India. “Our goal is to create innovation that counts – both for HP and customers.”

In addition to producing text, the keyboard can be used as a mouse to capture signatures, pictures and other visual elements. This feature holds the potential application of creating and storing notes and images in any language as bitmaps.

The gesture-based keyboard also helps shorten writing time by arranging letters alphabetically and requiring only phonetic modifiers.

Related links

» Read more about the keyboard
» Technical report (abstract only)
» HP Labs India

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