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&reg, 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 needs best."

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 Thumbscript enabled.

"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 as inward."

In addition to developing the Thumbscript (patent pending), the team is now working with licensors to adapt the language to specific product categories.

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