Frequently Asked Questions about MessagEaseST:

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  • What is MessagEase

MessagEase is a new keyboard technology for entering text on small electronic devices. It provides a fast, intuitive and convenient way for entering full text on Tablet PCs, PDAs, cell phones, TV remote controllers, wrist watches, car navigating system, or basically any device where text entry is required and real estate is limited

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  • What does it run on?

Currently MessagEase is implemented for Tablet PCsor in fact any Windows-based system, PDA's running Palm OS, and Pocket PCs. We have demos for java-capable Motorola cell phones. Also our plans are well underway to create MessagEase keyboard for Tablet PCs.

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  • How does it work?

MessagEase's keyboard has fewer but bigger keys. For a Tablet PC it appears as a compact, resizable on screen keyboard that you can use for entering any character you can enter using a regular keyboard, even the ALT and CTRL combinations. You enter the nine most frequent letters with a single tap and the rest of them with a single drag or slide of your stylus. Since the keys are both bigger and fewer, they are easier to find and hit. The combination of tap/drag on larger and fewer keys added to MessagEase's optimal letter assignment makes it very fast.

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  • What do I do to see it in action?

If you have a Tablet PC, or a Windows system, just download our onscreen keyboard from: http://www.exideas.com/tablet. Then you will see the keyboard appearing on your screen. Follow the instructions in the help files and use the game to become familiar with the keyboard. In places where you don't have the use of a ten-finger QWERTY keyboard, MessagEase's keyboard can help you browse, work on a spreadsheet or do serious writing! If you are a Palm user, you have four programs to try to see MessagEase in action. The first two programs are free, allowing you to experiment with this new way of entering text. You can also use our third and most powerful program for a period of one month for free. Our first free program is a Palm application (MessagEase app). You install it like any other Palm program. Run it and you'll see MessagEase's keyboard. Read our instructions online and tap/drag on it to see how it works. Our second free program is a keyboard extension (MessagEaseKB -- KB for Keyboard!) You install it according to the accompanying instructions. Then when activated, MessagEase's keyboard will pop up when you tap on the "abc" marking in your Graffiti area. Our third Palm Program is a Graffiti replacement (MessagEaseST -- ST for stamp!). MessagEaseST will transform your Graffiti area into a powerful keyboard. If you have a Sony Clie (NR, NX, or NZ), you can run our Single Finger MessagEase (see below). If you are a pocket PC user, see this page for more information and download.

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  • I am confused about your Palm programs: MessagEase, MessagEaseKB, and MessagEaseST programs: What are their differences?

These are names for our Palm programs. Our Pocket PC program is called MessagEase4PPC, or simply MessagEase; Our Tablet PC program is called MessagEaseOnscreenKB, or simply MessagEase.

As far as our Palm programs:all three utilize MessagEase's innovative text entry technology and run on Palm OS devices. MessagEase is a Palm OS application. You install and run it like any other app. It includes MessagEase's on-screen keyboard and text pad, demonstrating how you can enter full text. MessagEase application includes a learning game to help you practice the keyboard pattern. To demonstrate that MessagEase's technology applies to other languages, regardless of their alphabet, this application also includes support for entering Japanese Katakana. MessagEaseKB (keyboard) is a keyboard extension that you can access to enter text from any applications. Once set up, tapping on the keyboard icon on your Graffiti area brings up MessagEaseKB's keyboard. MessagEaseST (stamp) works with a paper-thin paper overlay on your Graffiti area, freeing your screen and empowering you to enter text from your Graffiti are, but much faster and more accurate than Graffiti strokes!

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  • What does the keyboard look like?

For the first two programs, MessagEase's onscreen keyboard looks like this: It may look strange at first, but once you become a bit familiar with it, you'll see it's power. To enter the bold letters in the center of the top nine keys simply tap anywhere on that key. To enter a letter or character located on the side of any key, bring your stylus down anywhere on its key then slide in the direction defined by the line drawn from the center of that key to that letter. For example, to enter "v" bring your stylus down anywhere on that button where "v" is marked (it has "A" in the center) then drag down and right (or southeast, or 45 degrees down and right!). Tap on the big button marked with "space" to enter space; drag down on that button to enter a linefeed; dragging left will enter a backspace.

 

 

These are just the basics of the keyboard, but you can also enter numbers, all special characters, shortcuts, or even store and recall text in about 200 clipboards! Remember both these programs are provided for your evaluation and use completely free!

MessagEase's stamp program MessagEaseST (or MessagEaseST for Palm OS 5.0) works with a thin overlay (Stamp) that you place over your Graffiti area, transforming it into a powerful keyboard. If your PDA has a virtual Graffiti area (Clies NR70 or Clie/NX/NZ, HandEra, Samsung Phone) we provide you with ways to show MessagEaseST's keyboard right on your Graffiti area. Else you need to place a physical stamp over your Graffiti area. You can either use the graphics and the instructions we provide and make your own, or you can purchase a set of our professionally printed and laminated stamps. We even have a trial stamp program (get a professionally printed stamp for less than its cost of shipping and handling; experiment with it; if you decided it's not for you, we'll refund your money!). Either way, you can use the program itself for free for one month. Below is a picture of MessagEase Stamp. In addition to all letters and characters, it provides you direct access to all common text editing features as well as command and shortcut characters and facilities. To learn more about the many features of MessagEase Stamp, please download our PDF Manual.

 

 

MessagEase for Tablet PC program has a keyboard that looks like this:

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It stays on top of your other windows and you can resize it to fit your need. You can also make it transparent to see what you are entering below it! With this keyboard you can enter any character or issue any keyboard command you can do with a full keyboard. You can enter function keys (F1-F12), issue ALT and CTRL combinations, issue editing commands or simply enter letters and numbers.

 

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  • If I install the stamp, can I still use Graffiti or character recognition?

Yes! A simple tap switches your keyboard to Graffiti, and another tap switches you back.

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  • What is Single Finger MessagEase?

Single Finger MessagEase is a special implementation of MessagEase that runs on Sony Cliés with virtual Graffiti (NR, NX, or NZ models). Single Finger MessagEase demonstrates that since the number of keys on MessagEase's keyboard is essentially only nine, by making the keyboard bigger you can enter text using only one finger. Even with this capability, MessagEase's keyboard does not take more than 2.5 square inches (16 square centimeters). You cannot implement a soft QWERTY keyboard in that area and reliably use it with a finger!

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Frequently Asked Questions about MessagEaseST

  • What is MessagEaseST?

MessagEaseST (stamp) runs on any Palm OS PDA. It transform your PDA's Graffiti area into a powerful keyboard, allowing you to enter letters, numbers, characters, common editing functions, and even editing scripts of your own design.

Pocket PC's keyboard

Palm OS 's keyboard

  • How do I install it?

You install the program and the keyboard. For PDAs with virtual Graffiti MessagEaseST provides a virtual, onscreen keyboard. For other PDAs, MessagEaseST supports a thin overlay (stamp) placed over the Graffiti area. You can either print your own stamp (we provide the graphics) or purchase ours; they are professionally printed, laminated, and have removable adhesive. For Pocket PCs, you will download and install everything in a software package.

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  • How do I enter text?

You either tap or drag (slide) to enter text or commands.

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  • Why it works?

MessagEaseST is based on the innovative MessagEase technology, making text entry on small electronic devices faster and more intuitive. Combining taps and drags and our optimal letter assignment reduce the number of keys required for a FULL keyboard; larger keys and smaller distances make MessagEase faster.

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  • Can I still use Graffiti or character recognition?

Yes! For Palm OS, a simple tap switches your keyboard to Graffiti, and another tap switches you back. For pocket PC, you can select among many different text entry tools as you wish.

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  • Can I try it first?

Yes! You can freely try MessagEaseST for a month. If you wish, you can download and use MessagEase (application) and MessagEaseKB. They provide on screen keyboards and are free! Both based on the same MessagEase keyboard technology.

  • Whats the advantage of MessagEase over Palm Pilot's Graffiti or its QWERTY keyboard?

Entering letters using Graffiti usually requires MANY strokes and changes of direction. For example, to enter E, English language's most frequent letter, Graffiti requires four strokes and three direction changes) On the other hand, entering letters using MessagEase only requires one tap or stroke. Compared to Palm's QWERTY keyboard, MessagEase has only 11 keys (only 9 keys for the letters). Therefore MessagEase's keys are bigger, hence easier and faster to target. Also, since the letter patterns are based on their frequencies, 71% of the times you only need to tap on one of those big 9 keys. While Graffiti works for very short pieces of text and QWERTY has the advantage of being very familiar, our user study has shown that with a bit of practice (15-45 minutes) people can easily surpass the speed and accuracy of both!

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  • What are memories (macros)?

You can save your frequently used text in memories and recall them with a tap or a drag. You can even include commands inside these memories, creating powerful editing scripts. For example you can include shortcuts, commands, date, your signature, cursor controls, copy, cut, paste to render your stored memories rich and powerful. You have about 200 memory locations at your disposal. In each you can store text of any length (well, how much memory do you have and what's Palm OS' limit?) Furthermore, you can redefine all but the main letters and some other essential characters, in effect personalizing your keyboard. If you use a foreign language and require easy access to accented characters, you can store your frequently used characters for easy, one-stroke recall. Or suppose you are a lawyer and you want to add your disclaimer clause to every single email you send: Save it in a memory and recall all of it with one or two strokes.

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 How do you compare with T9?

Primarily designed for cell phones, T9 has two components: disambiguation and prediction. Disambiguation is required by T9 since when you press a button on a phone, you may mean any of three or four letters. MessagEase does not need to disambiguate, since its input is completely deterministic. So we are one step ahead of T9 there! Dictionary-based prediction is not limited to T9 and can be used with any input system. If the text to be entered is mostly made up of dictionary words, then we can combine any commercially available prediction tool to make MessagEase benefit from that too. With no disambiguation required for MessagEase, it will always win. Besides, entering characters other than letters and numbers in MessagEase is done with a single tap or stroke, in T9, it's at best tedious. Furthermore, MessagEase can easily and comfortably handle Abbreviations (NBA, ICQ, IMHO) Slang (Wassup!) Jargon (SYSOP), foreign words (C'est vrais amigo!) or made up words (CUL8TR, LMAOL!). Please note that these are the words most people use when text messaging or instant messaging.

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 How do I enter other special characters and characters with accents (like , , , , , , , , , , , , and ) ?

You can actually enter all the above characters and many more. Primarily, up to 114 letters, numbers, and characters can be entered with a single tap or drag; This allows for all printable (and some non-printable) ASCII characters to be entered directly and easily. To enter the full 220 ASCII character set -- and even characters beyond that number -- the Combine command is used. This allows more than 6000 additional symbols (think Kanji!) to be entered by combining two characters and the combine command. For example, to enter , enter L followed by - and then the combine command (drag up-left on key 1)). Or, to enter , enter O, followed by C and then the combine command.

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 How have you calculated the speed of text entry for MessagEase?

We have used Fitts law, an established User Interface method governing the time it takes to move a finger or stylus from one location to target another. The empirical factors utilized are documented in a research paper by Miika Silfverberg, I. Scott MacKenzie and Panu Korhonen (Predicting text entry speed on mobile phones; Proceedings of the CHI 2000 conference on Human factors in computing systems April 1 - 6, 2000, The Hague Netherlands ). We used the frequency tables referred in this worked and used button distances of the same model phone (Nokia 5000 series) or distances based on Palm's implementation, to calculate our text entry speed. For the soft keyboard, we used the methodology presented in a paper by Zhai, S., Hunter, M., Smith, A. S., The Metropolis Keyboard An Exploration of Qualitative Techniques for Virtual Key-board Design. Plugging the sizes and distances of our keyboard produces 50.1 WPM, 67% faster than Palm's QWERTY. For more details, please see our ICMI-2003 paper.

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 You say MessagEase is language independent, but only the English letters appear on your keys. How can one enter text in other languages?

MessagEase technology applies to any language regardless of its alphabet. In fact MessagEase application includes a Japanese Katakana keyboard, enabling you to enter Japanese text faster and more accurately than the usual 46-character keyboard of Katakana and demonstrating the language independence of MessagEase's technology. MessagEase is applicable and can be adapted for Arabic, Korean, and Chinese Kanji, as well as other languages.

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 I am very familiar with QWERTY keyboard and intend to use that for my small devices. How do you expect us to learn a new system?

For regular size keyboards it seems that QWERTY is here to stay. However, since QWERTY requires more than 30 keys, it can't be shrunk beyond a minimum size, making it not practical for small devices. On the other hand MessagEase's keyboard can fit on an area 1/4 of the size of a credit card. Given the same area, MessagEase's fewer keys are going to be about 3 times larger than those of a small QWERTY keyboard, therefore easier to target. Additionally, fewer keys of MessagEase's keyboard make it ideal for one-handed, mobile, touch typing. QWERTY, on the other hand, is designed for typing with ten fingers. In addition to the minimum size limitation, small QWERTY keyboards required two hands to operate and are not easy to touch type with. Where a limited number of keys and one-handed, touch-typing is preferred, MessagEase is a better choice than QWERTY. Entering an address on a car navigation system, entering text while using interactive TV or editing text on a cell phone are but a few examples. About learning a new keyboarding system: our users experience has pleasantly surprised us about how easy it is to learn and master MessagEase's keyboard pattern. Many of our users have become so familiar with MessagEase's keyboard pattern that they have demanded the production of "blank" keyboard so that they would not be distracted by the legend and their text entry speeds up.

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 What do you mean by "full character set" text entry? Why is that an advantage of MessagEase

Full character set refers to MessagEase's ability to enter any character with the same ease and speed as letters. Other entry systems require a mode shift, and often a serial, scroll-and-pick mechanism. On Palm OS MessagEase you can enter any character found on a conventional computer keyboard with a single tap or a single drag. Try entering say "@" on T9, Graffiti, or Palm's QWERTY. How fast can you enter a smiley emoticon ;-)

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