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8pen reinvents the keyboard for mobile devices

Keyboards on mobile devices with touchscreens

much smaller than a typical keyboard are a hit and miss affair. Many
solutions have been attempted, some of which work better than others.
But we still rely on the classic keyboard layout on which to base our touchscreen mobile input.

8pen is attempting to change that by introducing a completely new way of thinking about text input on a small display. Gone is the QWERTY key layout, gone is the tapping the screen with great accuracy to get
the letter you want. Instead you write almost like you would with a pen,
but using your fingers.

The video gives a very clear demonstration of how this works. It removes any problems associated with having big fingers, instead relying on gesture inputs where your finger slides through predefined sectors
in a specific way from a central circle. A letter is selected by the
user stating the sector, the side, and the position of the character
they are after all with a touch.

For example, if the letter you want is in the upper sector, on the right hand side, and the 3rd letter up. The gesture would see your finger slide into the upper sector, move right, and circle around 3
sectors making a “D” motion. Repeat that for a whole word and you have a
number of fluid motions just like handwriting. With a little practice
it could mean typing as fast as you write.

The character input doesn’t actually use that much screen real estate so 8pen has large areas for function keys such as return, acces to numbers, and backspace. It’s also possible to create your own gestures
for quick word input. Gestures are recognized by not starting the
gesture from the text circle in the middle.

8pen will be available to try from tomorrow if you have a handset running Android 2.2.

Read more at 8pen

Matthew’s Opinion

When you first start watching the video demonstration this looks to be quite a complicated system. But the more you watch the more you realize just how clever and simple it is. You really can’t make a
mistake once you get used to what gestures to use.

8pen looks like it may remove many of the frustrations associated with touch keyboards. The size of your finger does not matter, and getting a character wrong will never be through a lack of accuracy on
your part as the rules are so clear and easy to follow. The ability to
introduce your own gestures is just icing on the cake allowing you to
store and display words like your name with a quick slide of your

If you do have an Android 2.2 handset and try this out tomorrow let us know how well it works.

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Looks like an interesting idea for input. I had considered something similar for app launching. It seems this would lag behind in terms of speed with solutions like Swipe or SlideIT. However, it would seem that this would be more accurate. I didn't manage to try it when it was free but if they release a limited beta I'd be willing to give it a shot.
If you end up trying it out, let me know how it works! I'm on an iPhone and trying to decide if I'm getting a second phone just so I can have an android or opt to hold off and get a ChromeOS tablet. Or both. We'll see!

I definitely like your idea of an app that has a similar functionality.
The application went free. Downloaded it to my phone. It's quite the learning curve but perhaps after using it for a while I'll get used to it. They have a lot of custom features and shortcuts.
Very interesting idea, maybe I will be able to finally use device without a physical keyboard (my DROID). I wonder what is the learning time to truly "touch" type?


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