I spend some time each day researching and writing about the best and brightest in new personal mobile technology — mobile phones, digital cameras, PDAs, MP3 players, GPS units and everything like that. For the most part I intentionally keep that part of my work separate from my productivity work, but there are obviously some logical overlaps. The best applications for mobility gadgets should make their users more productive and efficient. Part of my fascination with personal technology is how badly much of it accomplishes these goals. So many of the latest and greatest gadgets eat up our free time, tether us to a working lifestyle, and make us less (and often considerably less) productive.
There are exceptions, of course, and I wrote about one I found particularly interesting this morning. There are some powerful applications and uses for Pocket PCs and other mini computer-like devices you can slide into your pocket. One of the main limitations, though, is that typing on the devices can be so slow and cumbersome that they are limited in what you can reasonably do with them. Some new software called Tengo Free tries to solve that problem.
What I find interesting about Tengo Free is that it entirely rethinks something we take for granted. We are bound to a keyboard that has 26 different buttons on it, and we try to find better ways to deal with that keyboard faster. Instead, Tengo Free blows up the 26 key keyboard and replaces it with one with just six keys. By using some fancy predictive text input technology, six keys works much better in this circumstance. I haven´t used the software myself, but I did check out the video on the website which shows someone typing more than 70 words per minute with just one hand using the software. That´s exciting and would certainly make Pocket PC users considerably more productive.
I´m obviously not trying to sell this software (especially since it´s free), but I wanted to write about it here because I found the concept very exciting and the potential for it to be a great boost to productivity. I am also eager to try out the product for myself. My biggest interest would be to see if something similar could work for laptops or desktop machines. That´s the kind of thought that really gets me excited.