The Future of Handwriting Technology

Date:   Wednesday , July 13, 2016

MyScript is a global leader in handwriting recognition and digital ink management technology that creates transformative opportunities for applications in mobile, automotive, enterprise and other domains by enabling a truly natural human machine interface.

Until very recently, using a digital stylus has been as limited as using a ballpoint pen on paper. The power of digital computing that we enjoy when using a word processor with a keyboard and mouse simply didn\'t exist. Most stylus-on-tablet writing, like ink-on-paper writing, is static. You can\'t edit ink-on-paper text; nor can you commonly automatically search it, easily store copies of it, or simply incorporate it into your daily workflow with other kinds of digital documents.

There is still a long way to go until handwriting technology is fully mature and welcomed by majority of people as just as efficient an input mechanism as a keyboard and mouse. Some of these capabilities now exist in certain handwriting technologies, but aren\'t widely known and adopted. Other capabilities are still in the future. But we\'re now very close to a time when handwriting technology is as easy and powerful a way to manipulate digital data as any other. Here are some key characteristics you should look for and expect to see in handwriting technology in coming days:

- Translatable: One of the biggest problems with almost all digital ink solutions today is that they\'re not easily translatable into digital format. Your computer will store pictures of the words you\'ve scrawled onto you pad, but most handwriting technology doesn\'t recognize your writing as digital letters, and so can\'t convert your handwriting into a typical word processing document in a standard font. You\'re not too much better off than you are writing with a pen on paper. But this will change; handwriting technology in the future will instantly recognize handwriting as letters. It can typeset them and easily combine handwritten content with typed content in a collaborative document. Handwriting technology will not only be able to translate handwriting into digital characters, but it will also be able to translate your writing into other languages where appropriate and work on multiple platforms and all kinds of machines.

- Recognizable: Most digital ink, like ink on paper, is understood by a computer system as simple ink-stroke input, a series of meaningless shapes and not actual content - i.e., most handwriting technology today doesn\'t attach meaning to handwritten words. What we are beginning to see now, and will see more of this in the future is technology that not only has the ability to record handwritten strokes accurately but to actually understand the meaning of words and phrases.

- Editable: Editing on paper is ineffective and inefficient. It\'s not easy to find the exact passage you left off at and may need to edit, as there\'s no search capability other than scanning down a page with your eyes; and when you do find what you\'re looking for, you have to cross out text and insert phrases in cramped margins. Rearranging sentences is nearly impossible. Most digital ink, unfortunately, isn\'t much better. It stores digital images of your handwriting, but you still can\'t easily cross out undesired words, add new ones, insert, rearrange or erase entire blocks of text the way you can with a word processor and keyboard. Handwriting technology in the future will allow easy search and editing. The ink must be as interactive as text manipulated with a word processor to unleash the full potential and power of the ink. Some of today\'s innovators have made great strides in this direction.

- Storable: On paper, discarded ink is lost for good - never to be retrieved. But the digital ink of the future will be storable and searchable, and so you can easily trace ideas from conception to completion, determine why edits were made and more easily grasp a creator\'s intent. Document version control will be easy to maintain with digital ink as it is with digital documents.

- Enhanced with AI: Next-generation handwriting technology will advance via machine learning, neural networks and language or diagram models so that it anticipates and instantly prompts you with translated letters & words, makes connections for you and gives you feedback.

- Beyond Text: Handwriting technology of the future will not only recognize and translate letters and words, it will capture, recognize and interpret other sorts of things that we mostly write today only with our hands, not with computers - things such as mathematical equations, musical annotation and commonly-used shapes in organizational charts, mind maps and architectural construction.

- Platform Agnostic: Most of today\'s digital ink is only fully featured on a single operating system or cloud interface. It lives in a closed system. The handwriting technology of the future won\'t care about your OS, device, or hardware. It will be managed in the same way with the same features on multiple OS platforms and will integrate with the rest of your digital world regardless of device type, size or operating system.

All of these dramatic benefits will not only increase efficiency, they add to the scope of what you can do. So you are not only more productive, you actually achieve more. Seventy percent of us spend more than an hour a day using a pen. Whatever you created with that pen had to be retyped and recomposed in order to move it into electronic format. If it wasn\'t retyped, as was often the case, it was lost forever. The handwriting technology of the future will allow your writing to avoid that fate. It will save you huge amounts of time on that task alone. What future handwriting technology ultimately offers is greatly magnified productivity.