Microsoft Scientists Pushing Keyboard Into the Past

How can you find information about Condoleezza Rice on the Internet? Type in “2*#7423”.

That is if you have a copy of a prototype program from Microsoft Research currently named The Wild Thing. The application, for cell phones and handhelds, essentially lets consumers conduct queries with abbreviations and truncated spellings of words, said its developer Bo Thiesson.

The query TR SF turns up Thai restaurants in San Francisco, complete with search results grouped under a header for local Thai restaurants. It also turns up Tower Records and The Stinking Rose, a local restaurant, but punching in those four letters took less time on a handheld keyboard that the full formal query on a cell phone keypad.

“It depends on age. Millenniums (kids aged 10 to 21) are wicked fast,” said John SanGiovanni, a Microsoft engineer who is developing the program in conjunction with researchers at NYU. “The goal is to get to 45 words per minute. Right now, I’m at just south of 30.”

Read the Full Story here at CNET.

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