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Toronto entrepreneur aims to re-invent mobile typing

Posted by Tom Emrich / March 31, 2013

MinuumLet's face it, touchscreen typing sucks! Whether I'm using the portrait or landscape keyboard on a smartphone, tablet or "phablet' it's all the same. The keyboard keys are unnaturally placed, the keypad takes up more than a third of my screen and I'm constantly sending out messages with spelling mistakes or incorrect words.

One Torontonian aims to correct all this and change touchscreen typing forever and judging from all the support he has already gained from his Indiegogo campaign, his dream is soon to become our reality.

Inspired by a University of Toronto research project, alum and former teaching assistant, Will Walmsley created Minuum - the tiny keyboard for big fingers - a one-dimensional keyboard that frees up screen space and allows for fast, accurate typing.

"When you're typing, you don't always hit the letter you aim for. And there's nothing wrong with that", explains Will from his Indiegogo campaign video. "We designed Minuum from the ground up to allow delightfully fast sloppy typing on as small a keyboard as you want".

Minuum is about half the size of your average touchscreen keyboard. It's a continuum of letters meaning letters and numbers are in one row rather than the multi-row format we are used to on our devices today. It leverages the QWERTY keyboard we know and love but allows for better access to punctuation, space, backspace and enter keys.

For fat fingers, Minuum provides easy letter magnification and its auto-correct algorithm promises you can type fast without worrying about being precise. Additionally, Minuum offers some neat customization features such as moving and placing the keyboard anywhere on the screen and changing the color.

Walmsley worked on the prototype for Minuum for two years before forming the company Whirlscape which he is the CEO. The project has already gained support from UTEST and MaRS Innovation programs and is now looking to the Indiegogo community to help raise the necessary funds to bring the keyboard to the public.

The Minuum Keyboard project has raised more than seven times the campaign goal they set at $10,000 to get the project off the ground which means that we will be seeing Minuum in the marketplace. Walmsley promises to deliver a beta Android app to all his Indiegogo supporters in about two months after the campaign ends which is estimated as June 2013. A general release of this beta app will be available to the public in Q1 of 2014.

As Apple doesn't allow third party keyboards to replace the default keyboard, Minuum will be offered as an iPhone SDK that developers can incorporate into their own apps. This SDK will also be available for Q1 2014.

What's most exciting about the vision of Minuum is that Walmsley and his team are not just building this keyboard for touchscreen but are looking ahead at wearable devices which are expecting to hit the market as early as end of this year. Since Minuum's Indiegogo campaign has reached its stretch goal of $60,000, Walmsley will also be releasing a WDK or wearable development kit which developers can use to incorporate the Minuum keyboard in new apps for smart watches, Google Glasses or gesture control devices like Kinect and Leap Motion.

For more information on Minuum or to become a supporter visit the Minuum Keyboard Project Indiegogo page.



scottd / March 31, 2013 at 02:18 pm
Let's face it, touchscreen typing doesnt suck at all. I point to to Louis CK's famous piece ""Everything is amazing and nobody is happy."
iSkysraper / March 31, 2013 at 03:37 pm
I think this is brilliant - very few people understand the history of the keyboard, and this certainly looks more promising than DVORAK or other solutions over the years. I avoid mobile typing as much as possible and would welcome Minuum on my device.
Alex / March 31, 2013 at 03:45 pm
I type much faster with regular touchscreen. Just get a phone with a good sensor. Thats all.

scottd +100500!
Don Piano replying to a comment from scottd / March 31, 2013 at 03:57 pm
@scottd this is nonsense. There is always room for improvement. If the entire world had the attitude of "everything is good enough, we should count our blessings for what is currently extant" then there would be no progress at all.
Shawn / March 31, 2013 at 04:53 pm
IMO Swype & the Android 4.2 keyboard are the best way to type quickly on a phone while preserving accuracy. Seems to me this idea would have more promise on Android where anyone can download any keyboard, as opposed to hoping that someone will incorporate it into their iOS app.
QWERTY / March 31, 2013 at 11:53 pm
I don't deny that this might be perfect for some people, but I can't recall once saying to myself, "I wish my phone keyboard worked better".
mens / April 1, 2013 at 12:32 am
Not quite sure why the first sentence says typing on a touch screen sucks. I've had an iphone for around 5 years and I have never had any issues using the keyboard. I never use it in landscape mode as I don't feel nearly as comfortable but using portrait mode, I have become extremely used to it and also pretty accurate with very little mistakes. Of course, I would rather see the whole screen instead of around half of it but there is noway that I would switch to this "keyboard" in order to see more of the screen. Typing with one finger is not efficient at all and I feel this is something I would try once and never use it again.
me / April 1, 2013 at 12:52 am
Or once could just use a phone....
Dave / April 1, 2013 at 10:55 am
Creating an SDK for iPhone developers seems like a waste of time and effort. What developers are going add an alternative keyboard to their app, just so they can inconvenience their users by being different from the rest of the system? Even here, in the comments, we can see that iPhone users tend to be less inclined to try to something new.

On Android, the bar is already set quite high. Millions of users already use and love SwiftKey and Swype, and even the stock keyboard is quickly catching up. Minuum's promise of giving back much of your screen space is enticing, but we'll have to see how well it actually works.

I'm not all that confident that this will work out, but I still donated because it's an intriguing idea, and I definitely support exploring new ideas.
tommy / April 1, 2013 at 06:05 pm
So all of this is just in the hopes of getting bought by Google or Apple, right? BumpTop this is all your fault.
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