Microsoft Unveils Analog Keyboard Prototype For Android Wear

Microsoft unveils analog keyboard prototype for android wear that lets you draw letters on smart watches. This keyboard is released as a prototype and can be downloaded on Microsoft’s research page.

Microsoft said “with the Analog Keyboard Project we are exploring handwriting recognition for text input on small touch screens. Handwriting, unlike speech, is discreet and not prone to background noise. And unlike soft keyboards, where many keys have to share the small touch surface, handwriting methods can offer the entire screen (or most of it) for each symbol. This allows each letter to be entered rather comfortably, even on small devices. In fact, it has been shown that some handwriting systems can be used without even looking on screen. Finally, handwriting interfaces require very little design changes to run on round displays, which are becoming increasingly popular”.

analog keyboard prototype for android wear

Microsoft also said that they have built a Prototype to evaluate handwritten text input on current smart watches or for Android wear platform. This prototype can be downloaded for research purposes.

Usage tips as mentioned on Microsoft page

  • Write Lowercase: Only lowercase English letters, numbers and basic punctuation symbols can be entered and uppercase letters are not supported (see limitations).
  • Start slowly and neatly: While using for first time, watch fading stokes on the writing panel and make sure that they are legible and properly separated from each other so that the recognition accuracy should be fairly high.
  • Frequent words such as “this”, “and” etc. will often be auto-corrected by the system once all characters have been entered.
  • Rare words like names or hashtags, should be written slowly and verified character by character (auto-correct is suppressed if you pause a little after each character).
  • Eyes free: This is how long you can write without looking at the watch?
  • Backspace key has a repeat function (long press).

Microsoft also mentioned the limitations of the prototype keyboard. They said:

  • It is not a store app. It needs to be side-loaded onto your watch using adb (Android Debug Bridge). The downloaded zip file contains a text file with instructions.
  • It has been tested only on the Samsung Gear Live (square, 320x 320 pixels) and the Moto 360 (round, 320 x 290 pixels). The resolution of 280 x 280 or upcoming round watches are not supported at this time.
  • Uppercase letters are not supported to reduce the computational loads in this version. Also the language and character models are trimmed down.

Microsoft also said that there is a bug on Moto 360. The Android OS shows the keyboard about 30 pixels above the bottom of screen, leaving a gap of precious screen space.

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