Frequently Asked Questions
What is Thumbscript®?
Thumbscript is a patented universal text entry system for mobile people and devices. It's the one input method for mobile phones that lets you "type" without errors at 10+ words per minute, and it's easy because it is visual.
What are the main characteristics of Thumbscript?
Where will Thumbscript work besides phones?
Thumbscript is most at home on your cell phone, but it's also right for any small electronic device that needs text input. It works on any device that has a keypad with 9 or more keys. For pen-based devices like the PDAs, it is faster than most other text entry systems such as Graffiti®. Joysticks and other 8-sided pointing devices like the ones on video games (Think toys) are also candidates for Thumbscript text input. Thumbscript is ideal for any situation where you need to enter short text messages with a small device.
Why would people want to learn a new alphabet?
Thumbscript is simply the best input system for keypad-based phones. You can't get faster than two positive strokes per character, no guesses, no errors, no waiting. And key patterns are visual, just like printing. Thumbscript is easier to learn than most of today's electronic gadgets, but it gives you much more because Thumbscript is the only technology that can allow easy text input with any small device. You carry the technology in your head where it takes up no room, and can use it anywhere, any time.
How fast isThumbscript?
Find out for yourself. Using your phone keypad, enter a familiar phone number with area code (skip the "1"). Enter the number five times then look at the second hand on your watch. Five 10 digit phone numbers is the same as 5 words. If you did it in under 30 seconds, then you can type 10 words per munute with Thumbscript. You probably did better than that. Depending on the size and ease of use of the keys on your phone, you may be able to go as fast as 20 WPM. What's more, there is no slowdown for punctuation or symbols, and no predictive text errors to correct.
Why not use the familiar keypad text entry systems we already have?
Why hasn't the text entry system of 1-800 FLOWERS caught on for messages? Because it is very cumbersome and distracting to scan the keys to find the letter you want. You concentrate on the text entry rather than the message itself. Current systems are based on the same principle. Some use an extra keystroke or two to signal which of the three letters you mean. Others use software to guess which letter you mean. These systems all lack Thumbscript's ability to handle punctuation and symbols just as easily as letters.
Are applications currently available?
Thumbscript for Palm 1.0, on lets users of Palm OS devices like the Palm Pilot and Visor work with Thumbscript. This product and our Thumbscript Access Kit include a free PIN number to use Thumbmail(SM) to send text e-mail from any phone any time. You can send e-mail from a pay phone, desk phone or cell phone. Free demos are available for desktop, Palm, and at our toll free phone number, 1-877-THUM (In Thumbscript of course!) Join Friends of Thumbscript to keep up with news about additional applications.
What does the future hold?
Thumbscript Development has already come up with a totally new input device that puts the whole keyboard in a 1/2 inch square button you operate with one thumb. We even envision a "buttonless" cell phone where you can dial, enter text, and navigate your screen all from a touch pad. White Paper: "Designing a General Solution to the Problem of Text Input in Small Devices."
What is the mission of Thumbscript Development, LLC?
To license Thumbscript for the broadest range of applications and establish Thumbscript as a an enabling technology for the post-PC era of electronic devices. We do not intend to offer products or services directly except where doing so will enhance the recognition of Thumbscript.
Are there opportunities available for entrepreneurs?
Yes! Some examples requiring little investment funding: Would you or someone you know like to write Thumbscript for Windows CE? Development of applications for the disabled can be simple, for example text entry for touchpads. A one-hand keyboard would be simple to implement. We are ready now to discuss Partnering opportunities.
How was Thumbscript Invented?
Dr. Jeffery Smith had been working as a hobby on the problem of one handed text input. He had experimented with chording systems such as found on the "Twiddler" favored by computer "cyborgs" at MIT and elsewhere. Feeling that this was too complicated for non-geeks, he kept thinking about the problem. In the fall of 1996, he suddenly had a flash that the telephone keypad, the most familiar input device in existence, could be seen as a simple drawing tablet with 9 pixels. The rest came very quickly, and was further refined in collaboration with Smart Design, known for excellence in understanding how people interact with devices.
Technical Questions (or return to top)
What are Thumbscript's technical characteristics?
Is Thumbscript hardware or software?
Strictly speaking, Thumbscript is a code, in which characters are represented visually, but entered by the user as ordered pairs of keystrokes or pen-down and pen-up events on a touch pad or pen-based device. The pairs are then translated into a standard character code such as ascii text. This translation is accomplished by software that can be located either in the device or remotely. For example, a smart cell phone could have it's own translation software, or could send pairs of DTMF tones (Touch Tones) to a destination where translation would take place.
Is Thumbscript easy to implement?
Very easy. The translation software simply captures pairs of keystrokes or pen-up/pen-down events and utilizes a look-up table (such as a 9x9 array variable) to translate the pairs into ascii characters. This takes only a few lines of code, a small fraction of the number of instructions in a cellular phone or VCR.
Can Thumbscript be implemented without disturbing an existing system?
Yes. Thumbscript can be activated by a special signal such as a double press of the * key. Thumbscript is only functioning when desired, otherwise the device or system works in the familiar manner. A special musical tone announces when Thumbscript is active.
Does Thumbscript require mode shifts?
No, all characters are represented by a single unique ordered pair of keystrokes. However, capital letters require either a shift (double 2 key) or caps lock (cmd + shift). The 12 function keys on the PC keyboard also require a modifier key. (See Technical Notes.)
How many characters are actually included in Thumbscript?
Theoretically, the limit is 9x9 or 81 ordered pairs. That is plenty for the alphabet and everything on the standard keyboard. Our new Palm OS software implements the same extended character set as Graffiti® See Technical Notes.