Scriptform: E-mail for the masses?

Bangalore-based hp Labs, one of the 7 r&d global subsidiaries of Hewlett Packard, USA, has developed 'Scriptform', a low-cost prototype device which enables handwritten e-mail to be sent in any language. The notepad-sized machine adopts the twin technologies of 'visual compression technique' and 'intelligent character recognition (ICR)' to transmit handwritten mails

 
Published: Saturday 31 January 2004

-- Scriptform HP Labs, Bangalore

Bangalore-based hp Labs, one of the 7 r&d global subsidiaries of Hewlett Packard, usa, has developed 'Scriptform', a low-cost prototype device which enables handwritten e-mail to be sent in any language. The notepad-sized machine adopts the twin technologies of 'visual compression technique' and 'intelligent character recognition (icr)' to transmit handwritten mails.

The device comprises a display monitor, a central processing unit and a sensor attached to a pad. When a calibrated paper is positioned on this pad, the user writes on the paper with a special electronic pen, which is picked up by the sensor and stored. This stored data (capacity: up to 32 mb) can be sent as a bitmap file to any email address.

The device is configurable to any isp and pop3 account. An improvement over the previous prototype called 'Scriptmail', in Scriptform even the e-mail address can be entered manually which is recognized with the help of icr. icr also picks up overwrites in case of mistakes, common in any form filling.
Advantages? Data is captured from handwriting, thereby making the device language-independent. This function is best leveraged in fields where voluminous data, not necessarily captured in English, is generated everyday. For instance, Indians aggregate 10 million forms a day, from railway to bank forms, most of which get manually re-entered in word processors and computers -- a waste of time and productivity. If even a fraction of these can be calibrated to the pad of a device such as this, data can be directly sent from its original point of capture to a local area network, a computer or receiving device. Says B Shekhar, Head, Affordable Access Devices Division, hp Labs, Bangalore, who led the team which developed this product, "This device will also cost less than Rs. 10,000; [our] mandate is to develop appropriate products for emerging markets like India, China, Brazil and Indonesia. The common characteristic of all these markets is the large non-English speaking population." Since computer penetration, especially in rural areas, is very low, in these markets this low-cost device will have better accessibility with the added advantages of being language savvy, and consuming a tenth of the energy of a pc.

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