In 1992 I started playing around with fast ways of entering text on computers. My one design rule for those first experiments was that you shouldn't ever need to pick up the pen (ie: no clicking, only gliding).

Things evolved, and it eventually evolved into Quikwriting, which I published as a short paper at the UIST 1998 conference.

The basic conceit of Quikwriting is that you make a character by moving your pen first out of, and then back into, a central resting done. So drawing a character is sort of like drawing a flower petal. Below is the very first demo I made for it:

click to try applet

Eventually, as the design evolved, I found I could get better accuracy by smoothing out the zone shapes:

click to try applet

Then several things happened. Microsoft got interested in it and licensed it from NYU (thereby helping to support our research!). Also, it got picked up on Slash Dot, and written about in Wired.com.

There are now versions for the Palm, the PocketPC, and even a version that runs on the XBox.

Meanwhile, as you can see from other pages here, I keep trying different variations and approaches:

Quikwriting is also being used by people who have Repetitive Stress Injury, since it doesn't require you to continually lift up and put down the pen, unlike, say, Grafitti. From my perspective, the most interesting use of Quikwriting so far has been by the Medical Engineering Resource Unit (MERU), a group in the United Kingdom that works with children who have physical disabilities due to muscular degeneration. Below is a Quicktime movie of a session with George, a really smart three year old who can't use a mouse because clicking and moving it requires too much force for him. In the video, you can see how George pushes around a small trackball to "type" using Quikwriting. I found this thrilling, because George had never before had access to a computer.

- Ken Perlin