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Start-up launches Indiegogo campaign to change future of mobile typing

Minuum keyboard on an Android phone
The Minuum keyboard: “the little keyboard for big fingers.” Designed by Whirlscape Inc., this one-dimensional, tiny keyboard frees up mobile screen space while allowing fast, accurate typing.

TORONTO, March 18, 2013 —  Whirlscape Inc., a Canadian tech start-up, has developed Minuum, “the little keyboard for big fingers.”

Updated: The company has now cleared its $60,000 stretch goal to build a wearable development kit. Read the Mobile Syrup follow-up story.

Minuum’s crowdfunding campaign was covered by the Financial Post, CBC News, CTV News, the Toronto Star and Metro Morning (radio interview). They also did a second spot on CTV News‘s Tech Tuesday report and were featured on Global TV’s The Morning Show.

The story was also picked up by Fast Company, Mashable, CNET, TechCrunch, TechCrunch Japan, TechVibes, Huffington Post, Toronto Standard, BlogTO and Mobile Syrup.

Minuum is a tiny, one-dimensional keyboard that frees up mobile screen space while allowing fast, accurate typing. Its specialized, patent-protected auto-correction algorithm corrects highly imprecise typing.

This algorithm, based on the touchscreen and wearable device research of company founders, Will Walmsley (researcher) and Khai Truong (associate professor) at the University of Toronto, configures the difference between what you type and what you mean, in real time, getting it right even if you miss every single letter.

“While our mobile devices are becoming smarter and faster, the keyboard has coasted into the 21st century essentially unchanged from the days of the typewriter; now we’re stuck with keyboards that cover up half a smartphone screen but don’t make up in accuracy what they take up in screen space,” says Walmsley, CEO of Whirlscape. “Realizing we could minimize the keyboard while maintaining accuracy was the eureka moment. We’ve changed what a keyboard needs to be, enabling a future of typing with wearable technology.”

Minuum improves mobile typing by:

  • Recovering more than half of the usable touchscreen space lost when typing on traditional virtual keyboards
  • Allowing for fast, accurate text entry when typing is sloppy
  • Providing letter magnification for precise typing—especially useful for large fingers
  • Respecting user familiarity with the existing QWERTY keyboard
  • Providing convenient access to everything users expect in a keyboard (such as punctuation, space, backspace, and enter) without stealing screen space
  • Letting you type anywhere—with a keyboard you can move around your touchscreen

The Minuum touchscreen keyboard is the first step of the Minuum project, which seeks to bring simplified typing to mobile and wearable devices. The Minuum layout is “one-dimensional” because it presents a continuum of letters, laid out in a row.

The simplicity, size, and accuracy of Minuum make it the perfect keyboard to fit into the future of wearable computing. While the first implementation of this technology is for smartphones and tablets, its type-anywhere implications are far-reaching.

To bring a tiny, user-friendly, accurate keyboard to mobile devices and give users back their screen space, Whirlscape is aiming to raise $10,000 on Indiegogo from March 18 to April 17, 2013. The campaign will fund the launch of an Android keyboard app, along with an iOS (iPhone, iPad) keyboard for developers to put into their apps.

The Minuum keyboard’s beta version will be available for technology journalists to test for free in June 2013.

An FAQ is available on the Minuum website along with background information, technical details, product specifications, photos, and more details about Minuum’s wearable computer applications:

About Whirlscape Inc.
Whirlscape logoBased in Toronto, Ontario, Whirlscape is a Canadian high-technology start-up with roots in human-computer interaction. Its product offerings address typing errors in widespread applications like e-mail and text messaging (SMS), initially through alternative keyboards on Android devices with planned extensibility to iOS (iPhone, iPad) and other platforms or OEM devices. Founded in June 2012, Whirlscape has received seed funding from the University of Toronto Early Stage Technology (UTEST) program and MaRS Innovation. Whirlscape is engaged in developing fully functional Minuum keyboards for Android, incorporating touchscreen entry and motion-controlled modes. The company is also prototyping wearable typing devices to test its technology to its limits.

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