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Part II: Tomorrow’s Technology > Working with Virtual Keyboards: Electronic Per...

Chapter 46. Working with Virtual Keyboards: Electronic Perception

The traditional keyboard has been with us for a long time as the primary way to enter textual information into a computer. As computers embed themselves into our daily lives and accompany-us outside the home and office, new input techniques are needed to support painless and efficient data entry while traveling. Mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) still have limited data-entry capabilities when compared to the traditional desktop keyboard. The currently available options for these devices include voice recognition, hand-writing recognition, or input via a minikeyboard. The RIM Blackberry is an example of a device that has successfully overcome many of these data-entry limitations. Its small keyboard is actually very usable for typing short email messages and for performing basic calendar and schedule-type functions.

Voice-recognition applications, mobile phone data entry via the numeric keypad, and PDA data entry via hand-writing recognition or foldable keyboards have been less simple to pick up. For the most part, only diehard techies or business executives who are highly mobile have persevered with these initial variants of data entry, although some of the newer incarnations of these technologies, such as those found on the tablet PC and in the research labs, show much more promise and general ease-of-use.


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