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How SwiftKey is Using NLP and AI to Revolutionize the Keyboard

By   /  August 15, 2014  /  No Comments

Steve Ranger of Tech Republic reports, “Qwerty [the standard keyboard layout] was a compromise from the start.”

swiftSteve Ranger of Tech Republic reports, “Qwerty [the standard keyboard layout] was a compromise from the start. And as such you’d expect it to be swept away as the technology changed. And yet this odd layout became the standard, used since on billions of devices from typewriters to tablets and PCs. Even as the cold steel of the typewriter was replaced by the cool glass of a touchscreen smartphone, Qwerty has continued to dominate. That is, until now. A number of companies are rethinking the keyboard for the digital age, led by a small UK startup called SwiftKey, so that a mere 150 years after it was first created, the keyboard could finally be made to behave just how the user wants it to.”

Ranger continues, “The keyboard might seem like a rather dowdy element of the smartphone, but Jon Reynolds, SwiftKey’s founder and CEO, argues that the keyboard has plenty of strategic potential. ‘What’s interesting is that it’s one of those parts of the phone which is used all the time. The phone is used something like 150 times a day and [for] a huge amount of it you have the keyboard open,’ Reynolds said over coffee at the company’s headquarters in London… Reynolds started working on the problem at home and mentioned it to his friend Ben Medlock, who he had met at Cambridge University and who, as luck would have it, was not only intrigued but also had a background in artificial intelligence and natural language processing, making him an ideal co-founder and CTO for the company. Medlock said the key breakthrough they had, right at the start, was the realisation that building a better keyboard was not about how to lay out the keys or how to arrange the characters. It was about how to capture the way people use language.”

Read more here.

Image: Courtesy SwiftKey

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