58: How MyScript Is Enabling Digital Handwriting For 250 Million Users

Jun 16, 2016
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This week I discovered something called MyScript. 250 million users are harnessing the power of digital handwriting at work, at home, and on the go.

Can you tell my listeners a little about yourself and your role at MyScript?

My name is Gary Baum and my role is vice president of marketing. I’m the person who gets the joy of talking about this technology and bringing it out to a variety of customers and partners. What we do is we have is the world’s best in class handwriting recognition and of course that’s based on artificial intelligence or neural network type of technology.

Gary Baum

Gary Baum

One of the things that put you guys on my radar was MyScript winning a prestigious Eppy award for MyScript calculator. Can you tell the listeners a little about the app and the success of picking up that big award?

MyScript calculator is built upon our math recognition technology. That technology has received many industry awards and institution awards from the educational community.

It goes beyond just recognition. It was one of the first applications where we started to include natural gestures. We started to include intuitive manipulation of ink as characters as opposed to just ink written in digital ink. We call that whole technology interactive ink.

I believe if we take a look under the hood the secret to getting your computer to understand your handwriting is artificial neural networks which is often referred to as ANN. Can you tell the listeners more about this in layman’s terms?

At the highest level, the technology we’ve been working on for the last twenty years is really inspired by how the brain likes to perform the reading task. This is very complex of course and neural networks and artificial intelligence is ideally suited to solve very complex problems that normal algorithmic programming doesn’t address adequately.

Do you think in this digital age of hybrid PC’s and tablets are becoming more mainstream do you think the tech industry is seeing a dramatic evolution in the way people interact with devices and operating systems?

It’s all driven by the quest for mobility and connectivity. It continues to be the primary driving factor that is so important with end users. When you start looking at that interacting with the machine is the next most important thing, the human-machine interface (HMI).

The hard keyboard is a constraint that in many situations is not easy to use and in some cases impossible to use. The pen or the finger is far more intuitive and natural. The tablet media consumption is now shifting from media consumption to productivity. When you’re talking about productivity, you’re talking about information creation and creativity. That requires data input. Data input requires more means to deal with the machine in a more effective user interface. That’s what we bring with the pen and writing input.

Do you think that digital handwriting and its potential is becoming more and more prevalent in day to day tasks already? What kinds of patterns have you noticed in the use of digital handwriting and have you found it increases productivity?

The prominent way to input content today is the keyboard and the mouse. The keyboard is very painful in many environments and situations and the pen is more intuitive and natural. There are many studies that show in automotive applications handwriting is preferred. It’s more accurate and less distracting. It’s a more secure way to input information into the vehicle. According to many of these studies, it’s even better than voice. That doesn’t mean voice is bad, they should all coexist.

Do you think digital handwriting could ever replace the keyboard?

The goal is not to replace the keyboard but to provide the best user experience in whatever situation the user is in. There are going to be times you’re going to want a full sized keyboard to pound out a long document. There will be other times, perhaps in a classroom or meeting room, and you have your tablet that it will be more optimal to take out your pen and write. You can then have that information converted into a digital form you can share with other people or other devices.

Do you think the massive advancements in artificial intelligence at the moment do these excite you or make you a little nervous?

It definitely excites us. The whole company is built on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and neural networks. This is a really exciting time for us. As the progress opens up new perspectives in the neural network world, we get to apply this technology to new things.

What’s next on the horizon for you guys?

That is the most exciting. This summer you are going to start to see expansions of interactive ink. We’re going to unveil what it can do next and how it interacts together and we’re going to put it all together and allow you to take your notes in a way you never could before.

What’s the best way to reach out to you guys?

Go to our website www.myscript.com and you will see a large variety of examples, news, and blogs. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter. If you’re an independent software developer then you can address the development portal which is DEV.myscript.com.

Check Out Neil’s Column at INC. called Tomorrow’s Tech

Please also see check out the related article from my column: How Handwriting Recognition Technology Improves Productivity On-the-Go

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