Microsoft's smartwatch keyboard looks shockingly usable

— 6:00 AM on October 13, 2014

Phone makers are dying to sell us smartwatches, but the human-interface part of the equation remains a work in progress. Happily, Microsoft's latest research effort shows text input could be relatively painless even on tiny, wrist-mounted displays. Behold the Analog Keyboard Project, which Microsoft is testing out on Android Wear devices:

Wow. That looks surprisingly usable. I still wouldn't want to write a dissertation on a smartwatch screen, but the input looks quick and accurate enough for text messages, at the very least.

As Microsoft points out, handwriting input like this has inherent advantages over even voice recognition, since talking to your smartwatch is "not always appropriate"—and noisy environments can make it downright impossible. This beats fitting some kind of QWERTY keyboard onto a 1.6" screen, too.

Got an Android Wear smartwatch? Then you can try the Analog Keyboard Project prototype yourself. The download link is right here. Just be aware that only the Motorola Moto 360 and watches with 320x320 screens are supported, and that the current release only supports lowercase character entry. More information, including installation instructions and usage tips, can be found in the ZIP file and on this page. (Thanks to The Verge for the link.)

Tip: You can use the A/Z keys to walk threads.
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