Two Canadian companies want to improve your mobile typing experience

    Modern smartphones offer a great visual experience, but typing on them can be a learning experience for some, and isn’t always an enjoyable experience. Two Canadian companies are focusing on the mobile typing experience though, hoping to make it a more pleasing, user-friendly experience.

    One is a spinoff out of the University of Toronto called Whirlscape Inc., and its keyboard is called Minimum. At first glance, its answer to this problem might seem a little counter-intuitive – it wants to give you more space on your smartphone display by making the keyboard smaller. Yes, smaller. A screenshot shows how they came up with the name Minimum.


    It’s a semi-departure from the usual QWERTY keyboard – although, if you look closely, it’s still there – but the company promises its tiny keyboard is actually more accurate than its traditional, larger mobile cousins. The secret would seem to be what the company claims is a specialized, patent-protected auto-correction algorithm, based on the research of co-founders Khai Truong and Will Walmsley.

    “While our mobile devices are becoming smarter and faster, the keyboard has coasted into the 21st century essentially unchanged from the days of the typewriter; now we’re stuck with keyboards that cover up half a smartphone screen but don’t make up in accuracy what they take up in screen space,” said Walmsley, CEO of Whirlscape, in a statement. “Realizing we could minimize the keyboard while maintaining accuracy was the eureka moment. We’ve changed what a keyboard needs to be, enabling a future of typing with wearable technology.”

    Meanwhile out on the West coast, Vancouver’s WordLogic Corp. is also focused on bringing more predictive typing to your smartphone. It holds several patents for predictive text and, as Howard Solomon of IT World Canada reports, recently launched WordLogic for Business, a solution that puts the technology on almost any mobile device.

    The keyboard would replace the one that comes with the device, and include a specialized custom dictionary for specific verticals, increasing the likelihood the suggested or predicted text will be what the user was actually looking for.

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    Jeff Jedras
    Jeff Jedras is a technology journalist with IT World Canada and a member of the IT Business team. He began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada and the channel for Computer Dealer News. His writing has also appeared in the Vancouver Sun & the Ottawa Citizen.