Like many promises, Minuum sounds too good to be true. But the team at Whirlscape Inc., a Toronto-based startup funded in part by U of T’s Early Stage Technology fund and MaRS Innovation, thinks they can reimagine and reinvent the touchscreen keyboard for large, small and tiny devices.
The gist of the Minuum project is to manufacturer a really intelligent keyboard that takes up as little space as possible. The initial version will be an Android app, but the team promises a developer-friendly iOS version and, down the road, a gesture- and touch-based input mechanism for anything from a watch to a forearm. At its core, Minuum is a “simplified keyboard that saves you screen space” by bunching a typical set of QWERTY letters together; its genius is intelligently interpreting the words you’re typing.
“We designed Minuum from the ground up to allow delightfully fast sloppy typing,” says Will Walmsley, CEO of Whirlscape. He compares the current state of virtual keyboards — which take up almost half the screen while in use — as a holdover from the typewriter, a form factor that may look delightful, but didn’t allow for easy correction or speed. Alternatives like SwiftKey, which powers millions of Android keyboard and will ship as the default typing experience on the Galaxy S4, have improved matters immensely on Android, but Minuum thinks it can do better. Walmsley continues in a press released issued today, “realizing we could minimize the keyboard while maintaining accuracy was the eureka moment.”
Minuum isn’t just limited to current smartphones and tablets; the company is planning support for a whole host of wearable devices, including watches and forearm-oriented sensors.
The company is trying to raise $10,000 through a Indiegogo campaign, which will ensure Walmsley and his team have the financial resources they need to distribute Minuum on a large scale. According to the release, Minuum will become available to backers in June, 2013, with a wider release expected for later this year.
Update: Looks like people have really embraced this keyboard idea. The project has been fully funded in one-day, now sitting above $20,000. Will be interesting to see what number they reach after 30 days.