The Pen Phone: Handwriting Recognition For Input

People are convinced that there’s a huge “data input” problem in the wireless device realm – where most handsets are limited to the typical number pad. However, the number pad is actually quite effective for numbers, and people are getting better every day at using it for letters. I have nothing against alternative data entry methods, but the cost of adoption needs to be low. I’m not sure that’s the case with the new Siemens PenPhone as described at Alan Reiter’s site. The phone is in the shape of a pen, and you can just “write” the number you want to call and the phone should recognize it. This seems like a fairly painful way to call people. The number pad is perfectly effective for data input, whereas handwriting recognition has serious limitations. I’m not even sure it’s more effective for text, either. The issue I always had with handwriting recognition systems is the need to check after each letter to make sure the system got it right. That’s a mental transaction cost – and I’d just as soon hit a button three times and know I got to the right letter than have to scribble on a desktop somewhere.

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