June 26, 2002 4:30 AM   Subscribe

Dasher is a new way to input text on a Pilot or any computer without a keyboard. There's a version available for download to try out on your desktop, using your mouse. It really is quite freaky to use. The amazing thing is, it actually appears to work. After a couple of minutes experimenting, it's almost as fast as typing for a slow typist like myself.
posted by salmacis (21 comments total)
That's really cool. It'd be nice if you could copy the text out of the demo, though.
posted by techgnollogic at 4:48 AM on June 26, 2002

Very nifty, but ultimately hard on the eyes - or at least that's what I've experienced in the last few minutes of playing with it. Hypnotic as far as the actual text entering goes.
posted by Fat Elvis at 5:04 AM on June 26, 2002

good idea. very interesting.
posted by Frasermoo at 5:05 AM on June 26, 2002

Run your mouse hard left and let it stream by itself - it creates a nice stream of nonsense (some of which is quite like Vogon poetry).
posted by jonathanbell at 5:25 AM on June 26, 2002

You can save the text you have typed by pressing F4, or using the option in the File menu (on the Windows verison, at least).
posted by chrismear at 5:44 AM on June 26, 2002

the name of it, Dasher, made me wonder: It probably wouldn't be all that difficult to write a morse code interpreter.... tap morse code on your PDA screen and it renders as text.

19th century input on your 21st century appliance, anyone?
posted by o2b at 6:31 AM on June 26, 2002

Or, i'm envisioning an input device for a Palm or other handheld...where you puff cigarette smoke into it...the puffs are then translated into letters and words based on a system similar to smoke signals. Maybe for the non-smokers the system could just work on puffs of air. I'd call it "SmokE" or something just as hip. Don't steal my ideas!
posted by tpl1212 at 6:38 AM on June 26, 2002

That's nifty.

I like the idea of using morse code o2b. That might actually be pretty efficient.
posted by insomnyuk at 7:01 AM on June 26, 2002

In my opinion, the real best use for this is for the disabled, esp. quadraplegics who must control a computer with a small joystick or an eye tracker.

For them, this is huge, it lets them speed up considerably. For the rest of us, it does seem like mostly novelty.
posted by malphigian at 7:06 AM on June 26, 2002

It took me about 45 seconds to catch on to what was happening, but as soon as I did, it was pretty easy to use. Nowhere near the speed of typing, and the animation would be pretty grizzly on the eyes after a while, but not difficult.

My main criticism is that with this method, it's necessary to "watch the road." While typing or using a stroke input method, it's not necessary to watch the screen, but it's critical in this case. That might make it hard to, for example, take notes on a presentation: it reqiures a fair bit of visual attention on "driving" instead of attention to the world around you.

It's kind of a Night Driver with words.
posted by majick at 7:15 AM on June 26, 2002

A marvelous program for the disabled. Playing with this program reminds me of someone using a mouse for the first time.
posted by Modem Ovary at 7:31 AM on June 26, 2002

My first impression is that I'm typing things into a psychedelically expanding Mandelbrot interface.
posted by brownpau at 7:59 AM on June 26, 2002

Dasher is a new way to input text on a Pilot or any computer without a keyboard.

Except it seems it's not actually available for Palm Pilot OS, just Microsoft's Pocket PC.
posted by straight at 8:01 AM on June 26, 2002

Morris Code is a good idea... speeds of 20wpm should be easy enough. That's faster than handwriting, printing, or Dasher.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 AM on June 26, 2002

Morse Code isn't that easy to input quickly. At about 10 - 13 words per minute, morse code can be difficult to input without what amateur radio operators call paddles or bugs that help make alternating dashes and dots. Tapping gets pretty tough when you start doing it faster. I'll stick with my keyboard.
posted by tayknight at 10:11 AM on June 26, 2002

Neat idea, o2b. I just bought a clie, so I'm very curious about this sort of thing. Of course Morse Code also had to be deciphered by humans so the requirements were a little bit different. Maybe chorded single-hand keyboards are the closest thing in the computer world.
posted by Wood at 10:18 AM on June 26, 2002

tay: ah. Darn. 10wpm isn't very fast at all. Predictive text entry should beat that hands down.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:18 PM on June 26, 2002

Just for a hoot, I went with this Morse code idea and created a web page that lets you enter text using Morse code on the keyboard. There's no reason why this couldn't easily be replicated with a stylus, or eyeblinks, or whatever. Of course, having done this, I realize this is probably not an original idea. But what the hey. It only took a few minutes.
posted by vraxoin at 1:30 PM on June 26, 2002

mom. i am writing this message on a new program called dasher. this is a very interesting way to write things. it works like target practice with the alphabet. you aimat the letters you want to use as you scroll across the screenwith your mouse. it is hard at first but pretty soon it feels like the program can read your mind. a little like the segway transporter. check it out at www.inference.phy.cam.ac.uk/dasher.

(Total time: 12 mins.)

Great link -- I need practice. I get the driving ("aim high!") aspect of letter selection, but the precedence=region-size is a little too intelligent. I let the computer suggest words to me as they pop on the horizon. The result is somewhat unnatural sounding. Better than handwriting recognition.
posted by rschram at 1:41 PM on June 26, 2002

I showed this to someone and they said they got a headache trying it. I noticed that my heart rate goes up a little. Less so now, with practice.

I wrote them the following.

Keep it up -- its the Zen way to write. You have to go with the flow.

This story took 20 minutes.

It's rather depressing, but, like the Dasher Spelling System, it comments
on nonbeing, and can be read as instructive in the ways of the Buddha.

years ago there was a man who loved to eat apples. this person loved
apples somuch that heate them every day. this was too expensive for him.
he needed to cut back on his consumption of apples. so he went on a diet.
he cut down to three apples a day. healso tried to eat more carrots. at
last he could afford to buy that car that he had always wanted. the car
was asleek grey saab nine hundred. he grew to detest apples and only took
pleasure in the eating of carrots. he spent all of his free time driving
the saab that he adored so much. he seemed so happy. ironically he felt
very depressed and unsatisfied with his new found wealth. the saab was
only a distraction not really a source of pleasure as it had been once. he
died a suicide.

posted by rschram at 2:24 PM on June 26, 2002

What a great post/thread. and vraxoin, rah rah rah, indeed.
posted by hotdoughnutsnow at 4:01 PM on June 26, 2002

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