No matter how sassy Siri gets, she still can’t replace typing on the iPhone, and typing on the iPhone remains a painful experience. As DamnYouAutoCorrect proves, predictive typing systems just can’t account for our fat thumbs.
Last week, I briefly touched on a company that is trying to improve typing on smartphones and has built a system that has predictive capabilities so powerful that you don’t even really need to look at what you’re typing, as long as you know your way around a QWERTY keyboard. In fact, its first focus is on helping to make smartphone typing accessible to blind people.
That company is Syntellia, makers of Fleksy, and I got CEO and co-founder Kostas Eleftheriou to give me a quick demo of the app at last week’s Distilled Intelligence pitch competition in Washington DC. The San Francisco startup had made the trip across the country at the last minute in a bid to close its seed round. It did that, raising $250,000 in just two days and ending up oversubscribed.
You can’t hear it in the video below, but the keyboard actually responds to key touches by reading out what is being typed, which is pretty useful if you happen to have no eyesight.
Because it is designed with the blind in mind, it can take a bit of getting used to. The keyboard doesn’t work like your typical keyboard. Instead of the usual spacebar and backspace, you swipe left or right to move between words or delete them. To change to a different word, you swipe up. That system takes some learning, but it makes sense for someone who can’t see what they’re typing.