SWiM-ming: The new way to write

It isn’t surprising (but kinda sometimes) to think that such a powerful and compact computational device rests on our palm for a major portion of our day, doing our calculations, connecting us with our loved ones, sending pictures of the food we are eating to uninterested followers, applying dog filters and we aren’t even done yet. And the best part is, it doesn’t have to. But what has to stop is this, with major phone manufacturers clamouring to hand out a huge ass phone with edge to edge screen out to their customers, making it lighter, making it thinner, giving it 4 gigs of RAM, they solve problems of visibility on the screen, and performance of the phone. But unknowingly, a new problem has entered the game. The problem of Typing.

We graduated from typing with two hands on our desktops and laptops, to typing with one hand on our smartphones. But behold! Regression arrives, for the size wars have begun. With size of smartphones increasing aggressively, users are now being pushed to type again with two hands instead of one. On a larger screen, my fingers have to be strained to spread across the keyboard and still maintain a decent typing space. You might say, “Well….you’ve got Swype..”, yeah sure, I surely enjoy backspacing “Wasp” five times before I get “Wassup”. So what’s a possible solution to this?

Say hello to SWiM (Shape Writing in Motion). Researchers at St. Andrews HCI Research group have come up with a model way to type by tilting your phone, making it possible by using the accelerometer in smartphones. So how does it work?

A demonstration of SWiM

From the demonstration above, all you have to do is tap once, and then tilt your phone in the direction of the characters of your word.

Image source: http://sachi.cs.st-andrews.ac.uk/research/interaction/one-handed-interaction-techniques/

Looks silly? Well….a little bit, but is it effective? The researchers have observed that almost immediately, users were capable of typing at a rate of 15 words per minute, and after a 30 minute practice, the rate doubles to 32 words per minute when the user holds their phone and SWiMs with their dominant hand.

But the challenge is when the size of the device is larger or smaller than the standard size we are used to.

Image source: http://i.giphy.com/l0IycDnOZD3KIpKwg.gif

With Phablets, it’s difficult to hold them with one hand, let alone try tilting them. Whereas with smartwatches, you don’t use them at all like the demonstration above, unless you are an anarchic and want to watch the world burn. What is indeed interesting is to see how SWiM or future technology on similar lines can work and solve these challenges, and I am all excited for what the future holds.

What are your views on this? Do you think you’ll use it and find it efficient? What could be your possible solution to the challenges? Feel free to speak about it in the comments below :)

You can read more about their research below:

Till then, godspeed to you!