(Had to go with the baseball metaphor, given that this is the first technology conference Iâ''ve ever attended that starts each day with a singing of the National Anthem. Itâ''s a little weird, especially for the international attendees, to some of whom I found myself explaining that this is not actually customary.)
Towards the end of the second day of TechCrunch50 came the moment all of us attendees had been waiting for: the introduction of something unique, incredibly useful, relevant to a wide range of devices and applications, based on really clever technology, and just plain cool. Swype gave us that moment.
Swype is a method for entering text onto touchscreens, with a finger on screens that like fingers, a stylus on screens optimized for stylus input. To â''swypeâ'' as opposed to type, you simply â''connect the dotsâ'' on an image of a qwerty keyboard, moving from letter to letter without picking up your finger. For the word â''catâ'', for example, you run your finger or stylus from the c to the a to the t; you can start the next word without a break. For odd spellings or names used for the first time, you switch to tapping instead of swyping; the next time you use that name, you can swype it because the software will remember the word.
The demo was awesome; the demonstrator was swyping 50 words a minute. Even more compelling was the fact that when the judges were dragged out of their seats to try the technology, their attempts shown live to the audience, they were quickly able to reasonably competent, and seemed reluctant to stop swyping.
The company swore that itâ''s got the patent situation on gesture entry of text well covered. Itâ''d like to make swype a core technology for touchscreen displays, and I hope they succeed; swyping instead of typing just looked like so much fun!
Caption: Swype in action, at the hands of a novice.