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November 10, 1994

COUNSEL OF DESPAIR: WITH PALM’s GRAFFITI, YOU MUST LEARN TO WRITE SO THE COMPUTER CAN UNDERSTAND

By CBR Staff Writer

Los Altos, California-based Palm Computing Inc’s Graffiti is a way of entering text into handheld computers with a pen using a simplified version of the alphabet that users will have to learn. Graffiti will support all major pen-based computing systems including Apple Computer Inc’s Newton, General Magic Inc’s Magic Cap, the GEOS operating system from Geoworks Inc, Microsoft Corp’s Windows for Pen Computing, Microsoft Winpad and PenRight! Current shipping Personal Digital Assistants that can use Graffiti add-on software include the Newton MessagePad, AST Research Inc’s Gridpad 2390, Casio Computer Corp Z-7000, Sharp Corp’s Expert Pad PI-7000 and Tandy Corp’s Z-PDA Zoomer. Palm Computing says Graffiti represents a major advance in handwriting recognition technology by delivering instant and accurate recognition. The user enters pre-defined strokes for each letter, and Graffiti translates that stroke into the corresponding text character on the screen. Palm Computing reckons that in tests, most users can learn to enter these strokes fast enough to achieve more than 30 words per minute with 100% accuracy. Because Graffiti works with a basic modification of the existing alphabet, most users become competent with Graffiti in less than 20 minutes, it claims. The company is stressing the accuracy of the character recognition algorithm and says Graffiti has addressed complaints of users of pen systems about the unpredictability of such systems. Palm Computing says Graffiti covers many characters that are impossible to achieve with current recognition technology including accented characters, punctuation and symbols. Capitalisation, punctuation, numbers and symbols are handled similarly to a keyboard. When the user wants to input a capital letter in Graffiti, she shifts Graffiti into upper case with an upstroke. The letter following the upstroke is then capitalised. Graffiti includes the core recognition software that users download to their handheld device, and an on-line tutorial and help system. Trial copies are available from Palm Computing or through America Online, Compuserve or the Internet. Graffiti is priced at $80 and is available now for GEOS and Magic Cap. It will be available for Newton next quarter. Graffiti for PenRight! is available to potential vertical customers for evaluation. Graffiti for Windows for Pen Computing and Winpad are under development and set for release sometime next year.

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