Why bring handwriting at the core of digital content creation?

December 13, 2018

“I recently spent a great day at Wacom Connected Ink 2018 event in Tokyo: lots of great people, all fully energized and committed to giving handwriting the place it deserves in the digital world. Wacom was pushing to make digital ink universal, the content you write being leverageable across operating systems and devices. This is an important step forward.

Yet, MyScript Interactive Ink (iink), which was introduced two years ago, has a bigger ambition: make handwriting at the core of digital content creation; allow everyone to be more productive.

In this article, I would like to reposition both concepts, show their complementarity and highlight the benefits of managing handwriting and digital ink interactively.

Is today’s digital world always welcoming?

The last decades have made us fully operate in the digital world. We are always connected, we purchase online, we manage most of our professional activities using computers or electronic devices. The integration of humans and computers is pushed even a step further by the virtual/augmented reality.

For years, keyboard and mouse have been the main way to interact with computers. Yet, for some, this input method is challenging: our parents or grandparents struggle, Asian people have to learn specific representations to input their numerous characters. Accessing computers is not always felt natural, and, as a result, a lot of people do not feel fully integrated in today’s world.

Entering non-text information, like math expressions, diagrams or music sheets gets even more challenging. Advanced users rely on specific languages, like LaTeX in the case of math. Others leverage content editors based on palettes that are not overly complex in their principle, but which inevitably hinder productivity.

Recently, the deployment of voice has facilitated our interactions with machines. But would you use voice in a noisy environment? Is it appropriate to speak aloud when you want privacy? And beyond text data, the voice doesn’t work reliably, except for those who will learn new descriptive languages.

Handwriting should be at the core of the digital world

We all learnt to write in our childhood and will never forget it. Beyond being an input tool, handwriting has lots of virtues. Many studies* show its positive impact on shaping the child’s brain. Taking notes using handwriting vs. keyboard makes a great difference on digesting and memorizing information.

Over the last 20 years, many companies have been working on “digitalizing” handwriting:

  • Through OCR techniques that extract handwritten content from images (these are more off-line solutions trying to integrate paper content).
  • Through electronic pen & paper solutions, recording the writing “signal” on paper and delivering it as “digital ink” on mobile devices or computers.
  • Through recording the handwriting drawn with a pen on the screen of smartphones, tablets, computers, smart boards, e-Paper tablets, and more.

There is a lot of energy in this market. Most of the traditional stationery companies are moving digital. Most of the device manufacturers now provide handwriting-enabled devices. Wacom has introduced WILL (Wacom Ink Layer Language) to make digital ink universal across devices and use cases. And they lead the Digital Stationery Consortium, which regroups the key players involved in handwriting, including MyScript.

Yet, the current solutions are more paper extensions than handwriting at the core of the digital world.

In all these solutions, handwriting is not as directly connected to the digital world as typing on a keyboard. You cannot edit it easily as you write, you cannot freely manage the layout like you would in a digital content editor — you still have paper-like constraints.

MyScript Interactive Ink bridges the gap between paper and digital

Some say that making digital ink ready for integration into the digital world can be easily solved by simply converting it using recognition technologies like MyScript’s. However, at MyScript, we know that applying handwriting recognition on content already written does not provide the best user experience. This is because we, people, have a tendency to write quite freely: our text is not always well aligned or of the same size, even on lined paper; we mix text and non-text information; we overload our content with corrections or annotations.

MyScript Interactive Ink is the solution for those who want a new digital experience. It recognizes your handwriting on the fly and puts you in control of the recognition process. It comes with powerful editing capabilities, formatting gestures, semantic-based layout composing, and responsiveness. With MyScript Interactive Ink, your content is clean, accurate, digital, immediately shareable, and ready for further editing with digital content editors.

Nebo, MyScript’s note-taking application, showcases the power of MyScript Interactive Ink technology. It allows you to create notes directly shareable with your friends and colleagues without being concerned with your handwriting style. Whether or not you convert your content to typeset, it can be responsively displayed on any type of device, in any orientation. And you can still use your preferred digital content editor to enrich your document — the content you have created is purely digital, like what you create with a keyboard and a mouse.

And it is just the beginning…

MyScript Interactive Ink is not limited to note taking, and toolkits are available to implement any content creation use cases.

MyScript Interactive Ink deals seamlessly with digital ink and digital content. As such, it is ready to welcome keyboard entry. While, at MyScript, we’re convinced that handwriting is the most natural and productive way to create rich content, we know the keyboard input is useful as well.

Our goal is also to enhance the complementarity of MyScript Interactive Ink and digital ink by providing AI tools to convert existing digital ink (e.g. in WILL format) into interactive ink.

Deploying and improving MyScript Interactive Ink technology is a fruitful and exciting journey. With it comes the promise to shape a new future for digital content creation, making it ultimately natural and accessible to everybody.”

About

More information on MyScript Interactive Ink.

Discover the applications using MyScript Interactive Ink (Nebo, Calculator).

“It is our mission to drive the user adoption of ink-based human-machine interfaces, providing users with an easier and more efficient access to the digital world.”

— Dr. Pierre Laporte — CEO MyScript

[*] A few studies on handwriting benefits: