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Handwriting recognition

Handwriting recognition refers to the ability of a computer to receive intelligible written input from a user. The elements of a handwriting recogition interface typically include:

  • a pen or stylus for the user to write with.
  • a touch sensitive surface, which may be intergrated with, or adjacent to, an output display.
  • a software application which interprets the movements of the stylus across the writing surface, translating the resulting curves into digital text.

Handwriting recognition is commonly used as an input method for PDAs. The first PDA to provide written input was the Apple Newton, which exposed the public to the advantage of a streamlined user interface. However, the device was not a commercial success, owing to the unreliability of the software, which tried to learn a user's writing patterns.

Palm later launched a successful series of PDAs based on the Graffiti® recognition system. Graffiti improved usability by defining a set of pen strokes for each character. This narrowed the possibility for erroneous input, although memorization of the stroke patterns did increase the learning curve.

In recent years, several attempts were made to produce ink pens that include digital elements, such that a person could write on paper, and have the resulting text stored digitally. The success of these products is yet to be determined.

Although handwriting recognition is an input form that the public had become accustomed to, it has not achieved widespread use in either desktop computers or laptops. It is still generally accepted that keyboard input is both faster and more reliable. On PDAs, the Graffiti system is being phased out in favor of keyboards.

See also: optical character recognition.

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