It wasn’t long ago when many were proclaiming that handwriting was dying a slow death and moving towards obsolescence. But as more and more end users, and hence OEMs, have demanded multimodal mobile products with handwriting options, more products have grown to accommodate them.
We’ve seen a strong pivot in the industry toward increased discussion of the productivity benefits of digital writing almost everywhere—and it’s safe to say those doomsday predictions have been proven wrong. Here are some specifics on why:
Why do people seem to prefer handwriting as a computer input option? One reason might be that for many people, handwriting simply feels natural. Seventy percent of us still spend more than an hour a day using a pen. What’s been missing, until recent years, was perhaps not so much a replacement for handwriting, but instead, better technologies for a satisfying user experience and the ability to integrate digital writing into the rest of our digital documents. We’re now seeing that both items are addressed today by using an active pen enabled device and using Nebo, which is built utilizing MyScript Interactive Ink technology. Interactive Ink, or MyScript Ink as it is often called, transcends traditional digital ink barriers and is as interactive as text entered from a keyboard. Digital writing is now also easily transformed into documents for the digital world.
Another reason digital writing is gaining in popularity may be that it has both cognitive and mental health benefits. Handwriting not only strengthens motor skills in children, it provides critical tools for developing your brain, building your memory, and grasping and expressing complex ideas. It can make you smarter, it has a calming effect, and can help better coordinate the left and right sides of the brain.
In one Indiana University study, researchers conducted brain scans on preliterate five-year-olds before and after receiving different sorts of letter-learning instruction. In children who had spent time writing by hand, the neural activity was far more enhanced and “adult-like” than in those who had simply looked at and tapped letters on a keyboard. One study found that using a digital pen improves students’ reasoning, simply because a pen interface stimulates people to write more nonlinguistic content (diagrams, symbols) than those who work with a keyboard, and that, in turn, expressing more nonlinguistic content directly facilitates nine to 38 percent improvements in thinking and reasoning about math, science and everyday tasks.
"It seems there is something really important about manually manipulating and drawing out two-dimensional things we see all the time," said Karin Harman James, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Indiana University, who led the study. Victoria Dunckley, M.D. Mental Wealth, also recently chimed in on the benefits of “The Radical Notion of Returning to Handwriting”. And about that ‘non-linguistic content.’ One of the tremendous advantages of good digital writing technology is that, unlike the mouse and keyboard option of using a word processor for input, you’re not limited to letters and numbers — you can sketch, create and link shapes, create diagrams, build mind maps, type and solve mathematical equations, and even jot down musical annotation. Truly enriching. Creative thinking is greatly enhanced.
MyScript has been a pioneer in handwriting recognition and digital ink management technology for years—that’s why, this year at CES, it was no surprise that its Nebo technology won the 2017 Mobile Apps Showdown.
We’re proud to have been ahead of the curve on recognizing the productivity available with digital writing. But the widespread growth in its prevalence has just started. There will be all sorts of digital writing technology advancements during the rest of 2017 – including MyScript Nebo’s imminent move onto the Android platform and other developments you’ll see announced at the world’s only conference devoted to digital writing – future.write();.