Project Idea: Dasher for Android

Dasher is a text entry method completely unlike a keyboard. You just swipe and like a video game you navigate through the possible sentences you could be writing.
Check the demo:

I like the idea that you are just navigating through the Borgesian infinite library to extract your sentences.
Dasher is free and GPL, it just hasn’t been compiled for android yet. Compile it, sell it with source for $.99.

Remember, qwerty is not destiny.

But wait, there's more

19 thoughts on “Project Idea: Dasher for Android

  1. I remember seeing a demo of this years ago when I had a conventional stylus Palm Pilot and they were promising it for Palm any day now. I don't think it ever happened. Instead I got a Treo that had a keyboard.

  2. Treos and blackberries have the gold standard for mobile keyboards. Little nubs with enough relief that you can actually tell where the buttons are, enough click, everything.
    Palm's grafitti made sense, but no one wanted to practice to get good at their new PDA. Incremental benefit is very important in designing interfaces. I found Vim to be usable after learning hjkl, i, w, q, and esc. Everything after that just made it better.

    Onscreen keyboards have no little nubs or relief, though some folks are trying to build relief into the screen. I don't buy it – it feels like you are trying to recreate hardware instead of using what is unique to the screen…

    I just installed the ShapeWriter soft keyboard for Android ( http://www.shapewriter.com/ ) and I like it. The first sentence took about 2 minutes, but after that it got better. They do something that's almost like typing and let the software correct all your fat finger mistakes. That's getting a lot closer to intent interpreting software…

  3. Hello,my name is Angelo and I'm an italian developer.
    I'm working on Dasher for Android during weekends…My implementation uses sensor to drive
    to the words so no fingers are needed. it's still alpha beacause some features
    are missing yet, but the engine works ok… you can have a look here



    to see me testing it…
    I will publish it in the market as soon as it get complete.
    Angelo

    1. Angelo that's very cool! Let me know if you want any help with beta or coding – do you have an open repository?

      I'm interested in using the finger to speed it up, so let me know if i can help out in implementing that.
      Regardless – BRAVO!

    2. I would be glad to help too!
      Please host your project on a repository like Google Code.
      I have some experience in Android programming and a device for testing.

    3. Hello, I am a developer working on Android. I saw rumblings on some forums months ago about porting Dasher to Android and became interested in it at that time. But I have not had the free time to start on this project. I would like to offer my help with this project however please get in contact if you are interested. I sent you a message on YouTube with my email address.

  4. Grazie Matt! and thank you for your interesting posts.
    sorry but I still have no open repo. my first version used finger and touch events in order to drive the pointer but then I realized that finger covers/hides the pointer and the characters so it was difficult to see to which character the pointer were going to. What do you exactly mean by "using finger"?Do you mean that the pointer should point just right where your finger is?
    By using sensors there are no "hiding actors" and the speed of the pointer is increased proportionally to the inclination/tilt. In the video I used it slowly since I didn't tilt it so much but it could have been faster if I tilted more…sorry for my english…

    1. I see what you mean about problems using a finger as input covering up words. I was thinking you would use finger as pointer – just like you describe. I'm sure you are making a smart choice on this either way.

      Let me know if you want any help or collaboration – I'm excited that you are working on this.

      Your english is great! la ringrazio per parlare inglese con me (<- from google translate)

  5. With the angles that i use my phone, using the sensors would make typing difficult.. however, i you just reversed the left right inputs.. and made going left speed you up and moving to center slow you down, and of course go right to reverse.. You'd keep your finger off the cursor, and have a more secure grip on the phone itself.

  6. @Jake – I was just about to make the same suggestion. Would need to play with it & see how it feels, but reversing left/right /&/ up/down might also be an option – that way ones finger, the central point & the pointer all lie on a straight line. It should be pretty easy to support configurable independent reflection of left/right & up/down to keep everyone happy.

    Really excited to see Dasher making its way to Android. Agree about the problems of relying on the tilt sensors only, though of course I understand Angelo's point..

    Oh & of course if beta testers are needed, please add me to the list (HTC Hero running MCR 3.2) :)

    1. @jake,i like your idea, maybe it would need a little bit more time to get used to,but it should work ok!
      I think the best thing would be to let the user chose which input to use for each axis (x and y) so that user could also get a mix of both sensor and touch input

  7. Just a thought? Do most android touch screens include pressure sensitivity? The way i would do this is have your finger on the left going only up or down. The speed would start slow and auto increase. As soon as you feel it getting too fast you could "apply the breaks" by applying slightly more pressure which would slow it down slightly. No idea how well this would work in practice but I feel it could work.

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