Finger Graffiti

Dylan McCall dylanmccall at
Mon Jul 30 17:32:42 CEST 2007

Bah, forget graffiti! It's too difficult; the computer should be able to
help you with it, but it doesn't. It essentially says "do this unnecessary
work". Using graffiti is like using a help file. (And I have a pretty long
rant on those somewhere).

If a really clever person sat down and drew lots of pictures, he might come
up with a good messag-ease-inspired input method where fingers are moved in
patterns similar to real letters.

Letters start being drawn from different places (or at least in different
directions), so instead of graffiti, it could be like connect-the-dots.
Start your letter in one point, a bunch of dots appear that you can drag
your finger to, with labels for what letters those dots would lead to. For
example, one dot may be labelled "I", while another could be labelled "L U".
You could drag to the "I" dot and lift your finger right there to get the
letter "I" (or keep dragging if more dots exist for that letter, though
there wouldn't be much point). If you drag to the "L U" dot, new dots appear
out of that one for the letters "L" and "U"; drag your finger to the one you
want, as with "I".

Graphically, there would be no static keyboard graphic; the keyboard would
not obscure the screen but rather expand (smoothly) when in use. This would
save screen space /and/ look cool.

All the different letters could be tied into a nice little database which
would contain the paths for different letters. Still no ability to lift
one's finger, but since the input would be completely guided, that would not
hurt like it does with graffiti!
To easily look up letters, paths in the database would have to intersect,
consistently, at specific points. I guess a grid (where the size of each box
is recorded somewhere) would work there. Thus, each letter in the database
would have a whole bunch of grid points stored in the order they must be
A program could generate the point that one must be moving from to reach a
certain grid point for a letter. Otherwise, completely unrelated letters
would pop up from points that happen to intersect with other points! (For
example, I on point 0,-3 would require contact last with point 0,3).
Some kind of tree would have to exist, generated by a magical program
(once), using that direction information, saying what letters can be led to
from other letters. That would be entirely to speed things along in the case
of really big alphabets, so the computer doesn't have to look through every
single letter in the database. For example, "I" at 0,-3 leads to "L" and is
the end of the path for "I". Point 0,3 leads to a lot of letters; "I", "L",
"J", "U", etc. (Sorry, I seem to have changed the story from that first
example :p As I said, we would need someone clever to sit down and figure
out the connections).

-Dylan McCall

On 7/30/07, David Schlesinger <David.Schlesinger at> wrote:
> >So by using fingers instead of a stylus we're not talking about the
> >same use case anyway.
> That's certainly not clear to me.
> >Are you policing this project for violations?
> Not at all, that's a silly idea; as I've said, I simply _am_ obligated
> to point out when a trademark held by my employer is being misused, and
> that's simply a condition of having the trademark.
> My credentials aren't at issue: I've got a long-standing involvement in
> the community, I've presented at both the Ottawa Linux Symposium and at
> GUADEC (of which ACCESS was a sponsor) this year, I'm on the GNOME
> Foundation's Advisory Board and I'm the chair of the Linux Foundation's
> Mobile Working Group and vice-chair of the Linux Phone Standards Forum's
> Architectural Working Group. I've been on this list pretty much since it
> existed, and as Sean can confirm, I've had a long-term interest in the
> project--he and I have chatted on numerous occasions, and while I'm
> still waiting for _my_ unit, I can hang on a while longer...
> Let me add that there was = interest expressed by Mickey Lauer at GUADEC
> week before last in using some of the "Hiker Project" components--which
> we have made available under an open source license--in OpenMoko,
> something I'd certainly encourage.
> Let's be clear: nobody's "violated" anything. I felt it was necessary to
> give a heads-up that heading too far in the direction you seem to be
> trying to stake out (i.e. "Graffiti _shouldn't_ be a trademark" or
> "We're using the term in some slightly nuanced way and claiming it's a
> 'different use case'") could be potentially troublesome, if the upshot
> of it were to wind up amounting to the creation of a "test case" of
> either of those notions. If, say, I _didn't_ point this out and, based
> on the discussion, someone started a handwriting-related project called
> "moko-graffiti" or something, that _would_ be troublesome. Just sayin'.
> I think I've pretty much made the issues clear, and there doesn't seem
> to be anything useful being added here. If anyone wants to delve further
> into this, they're welcome to email me off-list.
> _______________________________________________
> OpenMoko community mailing list
> community at
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...

More information about the community mailing list