Smart Design Introduces Thumbscript:
Universal Language for Mobile Communication Products
NEW YORK, May 12 Dr. Jeffery Smith came to Smart
Design, a product design and design and development lab in Manhattan,
with a template for a new alphabet that could be used on a standard telephone
keypad. After designing a prototype to explore the basic interface concept,
the team focused on creating a universal input language that could speed
up mobile communications, be learned quickly and be applied to just about
any digital product.
Using a simple 9-button keypad, Thumbscript (tm) allows users to rapidly
enter and send text via any mobile communication device. Thumbscript is
based on a visual connect-the-dots: Letters are drawn by pressing once where
the stroke of a letter begins, and a second time where the stroke ends.
The language also includes one-key commands for special functions like delete,
shift, and return while numbers 1-9 are nearly identical to the layout of
a telephone. Thumbscript delivers full-keyboard functionality in one square
inch, with the same easy learning curve as Graffiti®, 3Com's popular
entry system for the Palm Pilot, but without requiring any new product hardware.
"So far, a lot of the focus has been on what people use to communicate,
rather than how you communicate fluently within this vast range of
digital environments," says Greg Littleton, Vice President Strategy
& Operations at Smart Design. "We know digital appliances will
become everyday necessities very soon, and that one universal language will
help us make the transition faster and easier."
Added Tom Dair, President of Smart Design: "We've developed hundreds
of successful consumer products over the years, and designing and selling
a communications interface for those products is no different than any other
good design; if it's going to be successful, it's got to be usable. Whether
it's a language or a toothbrush, people connect with whatever suits their
The development team knew Thumbscript would have to be portable, intuitive,
and could be easily adapted to the products people already felt comfortable
using. And to be accepted by both the communications industry it had to
be inexpensive and adaptable to a wide range of mobile devices already on
the market, while providing a template for new products to easily become
"As a psychiatrist, I'm very aware of the need to keep conversations
private," says Dr. Jeffery Smith, who pioneered Thumbscript's development.
"Cellphones, pagers and organizers all speak to our desire to be within
reach of both people and important information, but they don't necessarily
take into account our more intimate needs to be able to communicate discreetly.
We need a language that looks forward to the future of technology as well
In addition to developing the Thumbscript (patent pending), the team is
now working with licensors to adapt the language to specific product categories.