Glancing is ‘digital’, speech is not

The technologies for communicating with computers are based on speech, writing, typing, touching, pointing, sweeping, and gesturing. Unfortunately, none of them is able to completely satisfy the needs of today’s digital technology operator.

The widely popular keyboard uses too much of the operator’s energy; it engages touch, sight, both hands, requires a steady support and seated position. Handwriting is inherently slow, beside being difficult to translate into text. Speech, the fastest and the most natural medium of communication, is difficult to process, does not work well in noisy surroundings, and may prove overly intrusive (disturbs bystanders, precludes privacy). Finally there is the touch screen technology, proved to be exceptionally useful for the on-screen-navigation. But the on-screen keyboard does not work well as a textual interface. So, the search goes on.

But there may be a solution in sight.

Everybody would agree that our fingers can do more than punch (piano, typewriter) or tap (onscreen virtual keyboard).  Nimble and dexterous by nature,  human fingers are able to produce all sorts of other motions.  Exploring and exploiting this capability opens new perspectives for designing  a better communication method. That idea is embodied by the Glancing-Pad, as well as its younger offshoot, the Flick-Pad.

The Glancing-Pad is a hand-size apparatus operated with multidirectional motions of fingers (called flicks, or glances).

The theoretical advantage of the glancing method lays in the paucity and swiftness of motions used for generating the data. But will the device built to present such qualities —but unusual in design and handling — be able to prevail in today’s crowded and capricious marketplace? Will the public recognize and embrace it’s advantages? There is no definitive answer to this questions, though there are good reasons to be optimistic.

Obviously learning to glance will require expending time and effort, however, those costs can hardly be considered excessive, when matched with the benefits. Although younger users might demonstrate the most impressive gains in the skill, and higher motivation, the method would certainly satisfy users of all ages. Merely several weeks of practice was sufficient for the author of this essay to surpass his long plateaued keyboard-typing skill. Acquiring the glancing skill has been perceived easier than learning to type.

How will the glancing method fare, only the time will tell, but a clue might be found in the phenomenon of text messaging (texting). Most text messages are sent from smartphones, and produced using only one or two fingers, while fixedly staring at the screen. The Glancing-Pad offers a vastly better, more convenient and efficient, way of making text, whether it was a tweet, report, essay or perhaps a lengthy novel.