ThickButtons reduces fat-fingering

New keyboard tech re-sizes buttons on the fly.

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I was very pleased to get the world's shortest demo a few days ago of ThickButtons, a new smartphone keyboard technology that's made by a small Ukranian company. All this little tool does is dynamically re-size buttons on an on-screen keyboard. It makes the letters you're most likely to want to press bigger. For example, if you want to write "Funding," after you've typed "Fun," the "d" would be slightly bigger than the "s" and "f" on the on-screen keyboard, making it easier to press.

The effect is subtle but effective. When I tried it at first I didn't even notice what was going on. But it works, and the smaller the screen (or the fatter your fingers), the better. The founders say it works much better if you're a single-finger typer than a two-handed thumb typer, but in my brief trial, it worked fine either way.

ThickButtons competes with T9 to an extent, and also with Swype , which I first saw at the TechCrunch conference in 2008. It looks like ThickButtons will be easier to learn than Swype, which replaces tapping with fluid gestures, but Swype will probably reward devoted users with faster typing speed if they put in the learning time.

The four-person company is presenting at Demo on Monday and looking for partners like mobile phone and platform manufacturers such as Microsoft. Android users can download the ThickButtons keyboard for free during the beta period. iPhone users don't have the luxury.

About the author

Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.

 

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