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Maths whizz-kid designs predictive text-entry system

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Letterwise is a predictive text-entry solution that its developer, Eatoni Erogonomics, claims will overcome the 'bottleneck' to SMS messaging by reducing the number of key taps needed to enter text on a numeric keypad.

The software is not dictionary based, rather it is founded in the patterns of language. It uses statistical patterns to guess which letter will come next. For example, if you tap in 'q', and then hit the eight key, the best guess will be that you want the letter 'u'. This means that it is a lot smaller than its rivals' offerings, and requires only 3KB of space. T9, for example, requires about 60KB.

Howard Gutowitz, the founder of Eatoni, reckons that this will reduce the number of extra clicks to 18 per cent, as opposed to around two-and-a-half times the number of letters required using multi tap. Gutowitz developed the system while he was a professor of Maths in Paris.

It has been approved by the regulatory body of SIM card manufacturers and as of April 2001 all new cards will be capable of using it. Eatoni is currently involved in negotiations with manufacturers who it says find the idea "very desirable".

The company says it would like to market the software in due course, as a service, rather than as a product. Gutowitz went on: "We would expect the carriers to generate revenue with this by charging for it as a service like call forwarding. At the moment our competitor, AOL, has tied it into the phone as a product so we have to go with that at the moment, but we don't think it is really maximising the revenue."

Eatoni is not impressed with many of the rivals to its product. For example, Gutowitz describes the idea of abandoning DNS in favour of IP addresses as "a gigantic step backwards", pointing out that the reason DNS was introduced in the first place was to make it easier to remember the address of a site. ®

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