InScribe had sliding text entry a decade before Swype, what's the big deal now?

TechCrunch50 was held this week and there was lots of excitement in the press about the Swype text input method. After checking out the Swype site I could have sworn I already saw this same technique used a few years ago where I even tried it out and wrote about it here on this blog. Ilium Software created the free InScribe text entry program back in 1997 and rereleased it 2006. Both methods appear to use the same slide across letters method to enter text.

TechCrunch50 was held this week and there was lots of excitement in the press about the Swype text input method. After checking out the Swype site I could have sworn I already saw this same technique used a few years ago where I even tried it out and wrote about it here on this blog. Ilium Software created the free InScribe text entry program back in 1997 and rereleased it 2006. Both methods appear to use the same slide across letters method to enter text. I contacted both companies to find out if it was developed by the same people and what the differences between the two input methods are since it looks to use the same technique. I'll post an update if I get more information.

InScribe had sliding text entry a decade before Swype

The InScribe text entry method also supports various layouts, such as Dvorak, Maltron, Staggered, etc. so it may actually be a bit more powerful for those who like to use something other than QWERTY. Other advanced features of InScribe that I don't see in the demo video of Swype include transparency of the keyboard so you can see your work behind it, the option to tap on it just like a regular keyboard if you don't want to swipe/slide across the keys (I read one statement that leads me to believe you may be able to just tap Swype as well), and the ability to adjust to your personal style.

It seems that people haven't tried InScribe before if there is this much excitement about Swype. The Tablet PC/UMPC market is quite small and not really a growing segment of the PC market so I am also a bit surprised that touch text entry is getting so much press.

James let me know that the IBM Research Center had the SHARK text entry input method (later renamed to ShapeWriter) up and running in 2004 as well that used the same sliding across the screen method.