Text input, OpenMoko and Tengo

Richi Plana myopenmoko at richip.dhs.org
Sun Jan 21 21:18:56 CET 2007

I've the same sentiments as Ulrik. The Tengo technology seems just like
a variation of existing technologies from companies like Tegic (now AOL)
T9 and Zi Corporation's eZiText with the following differences:

1) A virtual keypad instead of a physical one (Zi eZiTap-like)
2) Six key groups instead of 8 or 9
3) Arrangement of keys (QWERTY as opposed to alphabetical)

Is that even such a big difference that a patent can be granted? What if
we implemented something similar with the same variations as above? For
instance, why stop at grouping keys in horizontal groups. People could
potentially tap on the wrong key in a vertical direction (though not as
likely as on the horizontal one). How about taking the actual letter key
in the QWERTY virtual keyboard that the user tapped and make that the
primary candidate for the desired key, but taking the surrounding key in
the 8 directions surrounding it as potential candidates, as well.

For instance, if the user tapped on "E", the input system could also
offer candidates where the assumed key pressed for that position in the
word construct was "W", "S", "D", "F" and "R". Also, depending on the
size of the "keys" and the accuracy of the multi-touch screen, you could
be more partial to the key closest to the point in space that the user
tapped on and using as secondary keys that are next closest to it
(geometry-intensive but it does seem like a variation that's not

Or how about switching to a Dvorak arrangement and making the home keys
extra large in size for easy hitting?

There are a lot of options for the input system that we could play
around with and develop. As for the backend for potential word
candidates, we can draw on the [ai]spell dictionary for different
languages, the phone's address/phone book, previously entered URLs,
Google's most popular search words/phrases, or a list of the most
previously typed words (with heuristics on the most commonly used), etc.

People who are interested in this should form a subgroup concentrating
mainly on the IME (input method editor) to be used on OpenMoko.

> > On 20 Jan 2007, at 2:48 pm, Ulrik Rasmussen wrote:
> > > That is patented? But how? It's basically a rearrangement of the
> > > buttons used
> > > on a regular cell phone.
> > > Unless there's some feature that I've missed, then I can't see how
> > > this could
> > > be innovative enough to deserve a patent.
> > >
> > > -Ulrik
> > >
> > > On Saturday 20 January 2007 13:44, Renaissance Man wrote:
> > >> Would I be right in assuming we won't see anything like Tengo-type
> > >> free software text input on OpenMoko, being that it's patented?
> > >>
> > >> http://www.tengo.net/
> > >>
> > >> I'm also assuming that getting Tengo to add support for OpenMoko is a
> > >> trivial matter. But would be nice to have a freedom software version.
> > >>
> > >> Renaissance Man

Richi Plana

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