T9 creator unveils gesture-based input

T9 creator unveils gesture-based input

This example of the word 'quick' being entered via Swype shows just how speedy text input can be.

The creator of the T9 predictive text entry system for mobile 'phones equipped with numeric keypads – love it or hate it, you've got to admit it's clever – is back with a new, gesture-based input system for handhelds.

CNet reports that T9 inventor Cliff Kushler has taken the wrapper off a new input system called Swype designed for touch-sensitive screens.

Much like its predecessor T9, Swype relies on an in-built dictionary to figure out what word you're after; unlike T9, rather than pressing multi-use keys you simply swipe – hence the name – your finger over the keyboard so that you pass over each letter in the word you're trying to enter.

The picture, an example of the word 'quick' being entered via Swype, gives a clearer indication of how the system works. Without removing your finger from the on-screen keyboard, a word can be entered. Lift your finger and you're ready for the next.

Where the Swype system is likely to shine is for rapid entry of common words, such as for sending quick text messages: the speed of the entry is literally the time it takes you to slide your finger across a keyboard. That said, for non-dictionary words the system has a fatal flaw shared with its predecessor: the requirement to return to hunt and peck typing in order to 'teach' the system. In other words, it's not going to be great for entering web addresses or odd names.

Kushler is currently looking to develop the system for Windows Mobile-based smartphones and the closely related Windows XP Tablet Edition. He's also keen on getting the system onto Apple's popular iPhone and iPod Touch devices, although there's no official deal in the works yet. The possibility of Symbian and Linux ports hasn't been ruled out yet, either.

Can you imagine the Swype system revolutionising your text-messaging ways, or can Kushler never be forgiven for making T9 the ever-so-confusing default on so many 'phones? Share your thoughts over in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
cjoyce1980 11th September 2008, 13:09 Quote
T9 is great for me.... i can remember bashing away at the buttons on my old nokia 3310, when you actual had to type every letter. lol! those were the days :)
Leitchy 11th September 2008, 13:34 Quote
Cant stand the T9 system, its the first thing I turn off when I get a new phone. Im faster just typing the word in anyways
Notional 11th September 2008, 13:36 Quote
Really? My 3310 had T9 dictionary. The older 3210 also had ( I think that was the first one to have T9 actually). My old Ericsson didn't though.

But maybe this will make onscreen texting easier, which would be pretty cool.
[USRF]Obiwan 11th September 2008, 13:49 Quote
T9 sucks, it always manages to present me the totaly wrong words. If it would be a 'mind reader' plugin then that would have been amazing
Jack_Pepsi 11th September 2008, 14:07 Quote
I'm a fan of T9, but not on my LG KF600 - horrible, horrible phone.
Sebbo 11th September 2008, 14:36 Quote
i like the T9 system, is very easy for me, and you just hit the * key a couple of times to get to the word you want. granted, some phones do this poorly, eg. my old phone if you changed the combination halfway through typing a word it had no effect, my n91 smartly keeps the combination i've selected and continues matching from there. also, being able to add words to the dictionary is great too.
Swype looks interesting and clever, its a good idea imo, though final judgement will wait till i have a chance to play with it
Whalemeister 11th September 2008, 14:57 Quote
I really don't understand how people don't get on with T9, I think they are just resistant to change and stuck in their ways.

It took me about a day to get used to it about 7 years ago using my ancient nokia 3310 and I've never looked back
DougEdey 11th September 2008, 15:25 Quote
I have my very own "Doug-speak" for sending text messages, T9 couldn't work it out, I doubt Swyck will...
Joeymac 11th September 2008, 16:01 Quote
I'm sure I saw a thing on this years ago. Maybe he's been working on it for a long time...

Nope this T9 bloke just stole it and it's at least 2-3 years old.. it's called shapewriter. IBM thing from the look of it.
And it's on Android already.

Is this the same thing but rebranded? Googling doesn't seem to come up with any clues.
mclean007 11th September 2008, 16:33 Quote
Sounds good. I'd be interested to see this working.

And unlike T9, it should be easy to switch between Swype and tapping out a word on the fly. There would be no need to press a button to cycle ABC/Abc/abc/123/T9 like on some phones. Instead, you just swype away and, when you need to type e.g. an URL, just tap it out.
CardJoe 11th September 2008, 16:50 Quote
Originally Posted by Leitchy
Cant stand the T9 system, its the first thing I turn off when I get a new phone. Im faster just typing the word in anyways
War-Rasta 11th September 2008, 17:02 Quote
T9 sucks. I don't want my phone to tell me what I need to say, I tell my phone what I want to say! It never gets the right words and I always ended up frustrated with the thing. I always turn it off as soon as I get a new phone. What I don't get is people can like it. It's waaaaay too inconvenient.
theevilelephant 11th September 2008, 17:14 Quote
If it actually could predict what i wanted to say? fine i'll have it, t9 is usually way off for me so I don't bother with it.
Atomic 11th September 2008, 17:41 Quote
The T9 on my C902 is awesome, it predicts words pretty much spot on. It guessed them based on how Ive typed them before and on what the word preceding that im typing is.

Gesture based seems interesting.
The_Pope 11th September 2008, 23:45 Quote
I've never understood people who are against T9 - I find most of the time it's perfectly fine. But then, I choose to speak ENGLISH in my text messages, and not the cursed TXTSPK that is turning a generation into illiterate cretins
ElThomsono 11th September 2008, 23:50 Quote
T9's pretty good, but there have been some failures to it that you don't always notice; last week I invited people round to play roles :o


That and you have to spend the first month of a new phone programming in profanities.
Spaceraver 17th September 2008, 06:20 Quote
T9 works a charm.
But then again.
If you can't spell T9 is a curse.
I'll want this for my Diamond if it becomes available. Touch wins. Unless you are trying to text while driving. No tactile feedback.
Donny 6th October 2008, 12:09 Quote
Well, at the moment there are no downloads, while there is a keyboard called SlideIT working on the same idea and free demos can be downloaded at:

I just tried it! Truly innovative text input method!
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