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Google bags Blind Type

Touch-type-tastic Android keyboard coming

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Google has snapped up soft-keyboard developers Blind Type, bringing the promise of touch-typing on Android to the sloppiest of fingers.

Neither company is saying how much the deal is worth, but Blind Type is only a couple of developers and a handful of demonstration videos - not even a product as yet - so can't have cost more than pocket change to the chocolate factory. But it might offer a more compelling way of getting text into a mobile phone.

Blind Type works by associating words with the pattern of dots required to produce them, so the keyboard itself becomes superfluous as demonstrated at the end of the Android example video:

If the user agrees with the suggestion then they just continue typing, or override the suggestion by tapping on the alternatives. The idea is very similar to Swype, but using taps instead of lines, though Swype should have an easier time as it has more data to work with (though suffers from letters that should be included, but happen to be in the path to the next letter).

The lack of necessary keyboard opens up potential for the more advanced user to tap away on top of their applications, in the same way that Sony Ericsson implemented character recognition for a while; though it's hard for the system to distinguish between interface actions and text input and few people ever made use of the feature on SE phones.

More concerning for Google should be the potential for more patent incursions. FingerWorks, which pioneered the multi-touch keyboard concept, also use patterns of dots to recognise words and have a multitude of patents in that area - those patents belong to Apple these days, and will no doubt be added to the litigation stack once Blind Type gets embedded into a phone or two. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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