Edgewrite: A Versatile Design for Accessible Text Entry

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 - 17:30
TH 331
Jacod O. Wobbrock

Handheld devices, such as PDAs and mobile phones, are quickly becoming pervasive, but little attention has been paid to making them more accessible. In particular, text entry can be difficult for people with tremor, poor coordination, little endurance, and low strength, as stylus keyboards and freeform stroke-based methods require significant physical stability and motor control. To overcome these challenges, I developed EdgeWrite, a more accessible PDA input method that uses physical edges and a highly guessable user-designed alphabet. EdgeWrite was created with a user-centered design approach and numerous formal evaluations. Besides full text entry, EdgeWrite includes novel features such as non-recognition retry, slip detection, and word-level stroking. Because EdgeWrite requires only four sensors, it adapts easily to a variety of other devices, including trackballs, touchpads, game controllers, isometric joysticks, power wheelchair joysticks, wrist watches, four keys, and touch-sensitive keypads, making it possible for users to "learn once, write anywhere." Such versatile multi-device input may be increasingly important as new devices emerge and everyday artifacts are augmented with computers.


Jacob O. Wobbrock is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University . He works with Professor Brad A. Myers. Jacob’s research interests include input and interaction techniques, human performance, algorithms for input analysis, assistive technology, situational impairments, and mobile computing. Jacob created EdgeWrite, one of the first attempts at improving the accessibility of handheld devices. In 2005, he won the 1st place NISH National Scholar Award for Workplace Innovation and Design. He also was a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow in 2004. He won Best Paper at ACM ASSETS 2004 and was nominated for Best Paper at ACM CHI 2006. He has held industry positions at Google, DoDots, Microsoft Research, and the Intel-Mattel Smart Toy Lab.