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Nintendo Businesses Portables (Games)

Handwriting Recognition on DS 112

JamesO writes "Zi Corporation has announced a licensing agreement with Nintendo that will allow developers to make use of handwriting recognition. PDAs have been offering handwriting recognition for some time and with the DS's touch screen it seemed inevitable that the console would eventually gain handwriting recognition technology. An agreement between Zi Corporation and Nintendo means that DS developers will be able to utilise Zi Decuma handwriting recognition technology when creating software for the handheld."
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Handwriting Recognition on DS

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  • SDK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kevin_conaway ( 585204 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:17AM (#13880272) Homepage
    What kind of SDK is available for the DS? What language(s) can you use?

    On a side note, are there any phones / pdas that have a Python sdk available?
    • Re:SDK (Score:5, Informative)

      by RevAaron ( 125240 ) <> on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:29AM (#13880363) Homepage
      You can code in Python for Windows CE 3.0+ (2.11+ maybe?), and specifically Pocket PC 2000, 2002, Windows Mobile 2003, 2003 SE and presumably 2005. There is a subset of Python, called Pippy, available for Palm OS. The WinCE port is pretty much a full port of Python; Pippy is very much stripped down. There are also the Zaurus Linux PDAs, which can run Python, though it's not as useful for writing full-on apps as it is on Pocket PC, at least within the Qtopia GUI last time I checked.

      Perl too on PocketPC/WinCE; there's even Perl/Tk support. Works pretty well.
    • Re:SDK (Score:5, Informative)

      by Paladine97 ( 467512 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:29AM (#13880368) Homepage
      A pretty basic SDK is provided. C and C++ are your options. Feel free to compile Python for it!

      See [] for all the DS development info you need.
    • No matter how well you develop this thing, AIN'T nuthin nobody can ever do to figure out my chicken scratch. I can't even read it right after I write it. They made keyboards for a reason - geeks can't write.
    • You can write in Python for any machine in which the python embedding interface can be compiled, which includes the DS. Moreover, there are roundabout ways of getting C from a python script, though god forbid you ask #python how to do it (they'll give you a bunch of non-answers, then tell you you're being hostile and ban you.)

      If you really want to, you could use jython to compile through gcj to the DS directly.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    cue the Newton fanboys...

  • Eat Up Martha (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thatguywhoiam ( 524290 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:18AM (#13880284)
    This certainly makes the DS more interesting to me (not that I'd use it as a PDA or anything). But if you can jot notes into the thing, and have it OCR'd for you, it would make it a lot handier than it is right now. Can anyone comment intelligently on how the DS CPU would handle such a thing?
    • Great Simpsons reference. That always makes my day.
    • Handwriting recognition != OCR, since there are no optics involved.

      • essentially they represent the same program. Most OCR programs can analyze any image for text, whether you scanned them, got them from a camera, or drew them with you mouse in mspaint. It's essentially the same problem. When you write on the screen, it creates an image, and analyzes the image to see if it can recognize anything as text. Most OCR programs only do typed text well. Recognizing hand writing is much too hard to do reliably.
        • Not necessarily. More advanced handwriting recognition algorithms can derive not only from a completed glyph, but also from the series of strokes you use in the process of drawing it.

          Try writing out the numeral 5, and then the letter S. Notice that even though the end results may look largely similar, the velocity and direction of your pen as you drew them were considerably different.
        • While both involve analyzing glyphs, one involves extracting a glyph from an interpolated image (a scanned document or simmilar), while the other has the benefit of having direct digital input.

          The prior is a different problem to solve. The hardest problem with OCR is reliably differentiating between a letter and a non-letter pixel on the page. Once you have the pixels that are just the letter, it is usually simple to figure out what letter it is. This is the idea behind Captchas, to make it as hard as possi
    • Re:Eat Up Martha (Score:5, Interesting)

      by RevAaron ( 125240 ) <> on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:33AM (#13880381) Homepage
      The NDS main CPU is pretty slow- 66 MHz. I've used Decuma on Palm OS on a 200 MHz ARM (Sony Clie NX70v), and used Decuma fine, albeit a bit slowly, with the Clie underclocked at 100 MHz to save power. Decuma is decent HWR; it is in between the character-based stuff like Graffiti and the proper and good word-sentence based real HWR of the Newton or PocketPC's Transcriber or Calligrapher. It makes you write in a box- but you write a full word, it recognizes it letter by letter, and then you have to press a button to actually accept/write the text. Or make corrections, overwriting maybe 'e' for the misrecognized 'o'; then you press that button. On Palm OS, Decuma is about the best you're going to get if you want real HWR, but it isn't too horrible.
      • The NDS main CPU is pretty slow- 66 MHz.

        Still - that's three times the clock speed and several ARM revisions better than the Apple Newton. Plus the DS has a secondary processor that might be usable.

        Assuming there's been a modest improvement in HWR algorithmic efficiency over the past 10 years, I would imagine that the DS could do an admirable job.
        • Still - that's three times the clock speed and several ARM revisions better than the Apple Newton. Plus the DS has a secondary processor that might be usable.

          Several ARM revisions, yes; 3x clock speed, don't think so. IIRC the Newton ran somewhere around 160Mhz. Which I remember being very impressive at the time. :)

          • The (Newton) Message Pad 2x00 processor was a 162MHz StrongARM 110 but the older ones were only 20MHz ARM6. Incidentally, the MP120(2.0) and the MP130 ran the newer OS (same as the 2x00) that was very capable of decent handwriting recognition unlike the original lineup. Having extensively used both a MP120(2.0) and a MP2100 I can attest to this. The 2100's only advantage was speed.

            The DS has a 66MHz ARM9 and a 33MHz ARM7. Logically, unless the ARM7 is needed for some specific DS tasks you could have it
        • Indeed- though the Newton HWR didn't get really usable until the 162 MHz Newton 2x00s. The Newton 130 was pretty good too, and it had a slower (33 MHz?) CPU. It was about quality software more than CPU speed. A 1 GHz CPU wouldn't have made the earliest Newton OMP or 100 or 110 do HWR more than half-decently; the software just was written for to make it work real well.
      • The NDS main CPU is pretty slow- 66 MHz.

        Not that slow. The Palm III had a 16Mhz cpu. At the very least the NDS should be able to handle Grafiti :)
        • No, but like I said, Decume is more complicated than Graffiti. But also like I said, I've used it on an ARM clocked at 100 MHz, so I expect the DS to be usable.
      • This is pretty silly.
        • For one, handwriting recognition works fine on 386es.
        • For two, Palm has a fair amount of operating overhead.
        • For three, there are two CPUs, not one.
        • For four, the major limiting factor in handwriting recognition quality is algorithm quality, not CPU speed.
        • For five, there's no significant overhead to simply recording the sketching position; it would be trivially easy to recognize previous writing while working on storing the next set.
        • Full sentence handwriting isn't really possible on a
    • Hello.
      This is Takuya.
      I read every time happily recently.

      I apologize first.
      I am weak in English.
      Even if a strange sentence matches, please forgive me.

      DS is extreme popularity in Japan.
      A video game for families of Sony is more popular than NINTENDO.
      But PSP is high-priced to write it in high efficiency.
      For reasons of 2 of there being a low-priced thing and the game that I can do only in DS, DS is supported.

      An article strategy of a game resembles a survival strategy of a creature.
      They come to have a strong tusk
  • by Krazyweasl ( 925959 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:21AM (#13880302)
    This is going to make 'up up down down left right left right b a b a select start' a pain to enter
  • Finally (Score:3, Funny)

    by Edunikki ( 677354 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:23AM (#13880321)
    Now I can trash talk other people in multiplayer mode!
    • Re:Finally (Score:2, Interesting)

      by JonXP ( 850946 )
      The DS has a microphone built in. Theoretically you could already do that with your voice, unlike another popular handheld system.
  • by Anonymous Coward Prlm.
  • Animal Crossing DS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vodevil ( 856500 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:33AM (#13880384)
    I sure hope they put this to good use in Animal Crossing DS, it was a pain in the butt to use the controller to write letters to the villagers.
    • based on screenshots i've seen, animal crossing DS will use a software keyboard. however, this will still be much less annoying than the original, since, of course, you'll use the stylus to hunt and peck, rather than d-pad and A-button (as seen in the original gamecube version.)
      • I just hope they'll stop using that idiotic alphabetic order and give the software keyboard a qwerty layout.
        • I just hope they'll stop using that idiotic alphabetic order and give the software keyboard a qwerty layout.

          The GameCube version does have a QWERTY layout, and it's the default! (press Z to toggle between QWERTY and alphabetic layouts)

    • > I sure hope they put this to good use in Animal Crossing DS, it was a pain in the butt to use the controller to write letters to the villagers.

      A pain to writte letters?! it was a pain to play that game at all!!! ...Not even my gf who plays neopets and the sims liked it
  • Writing of the Dead
    • A friend of mine (who is obviously slightly obsessive) became scary-type addicted to Typing of the Dead (or whatever the DC zombie typing thing was called). This could have been the thing to put him over on DS. =)
  • by evil agent ( 918566 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:34AM (#13880392)
    Nintendo will now be marketing this to very young kids, once games come out that can teach kids how to write. Of course, this will depend on how good the handwriting recognition will be. This could be really good news for the future of penmanship, or really bad.
    • Actualy, if you think about it. The worse the recognician software is, the better for the kids. You could use the best algorythms for the beginners, and start using faster, easier to trick, but not stupid, recognician software for the advanced. This would really help if there was a learn to speak/write Mandarin or Japanese. I've already got a DS, and I'd pay quite a bit for a better method of learning Japanese than out of a book, and I don't really have two extra hours a day to go to any classes.
    • This could be really good news for the future of penmanship, or really bad.

      Would that really be so awful. My penmanship was never good to begin with but I find that I so rarely sit down and write with a pen that the skill has badly deteriorated. More so with cursive then printing. I'm not sure that it is a skill we badly need any more in modern society.
      • Ok, are you serious? THe notion that we no longer need to know how to write is demonstrative of how small your world view is. What about the rest of the world outside the "modern" countries which don't have access to computers, typing or other mechanical forms of communications? Do we just not communicate with them? Do we bring computers with us on humanitarian missions in third world countries and just hope the batteries last? seriously, we aren't there yet.
        • I was going to moderate this topic, but wanted to post about the difference between the ability to write and the skill of penmanship. They are not at all the same. Being able to write simply means that you know what a letter looks like and are physically capible of holding a writing utensil with enough dextarity to form that symbol.

          Good penmanship, on the otherhand, is almost an art. It's a step below calligraphy, and a step above your average scrawl. My HANDWRITING is horrible, but I can still write; I hav
          • It really comes down to the ambiguity in the original post. If by "it" the person meant cursive, then that is one thing. If "it" is the skill of writing, then that is something different all together. All the same, general care in penmanship is something that we ought to concern ourselves with. Do we need to know calligraphy or cursive? Not necessarilly. But we ought to concern ourselves with making an effort to create writing that is legible to people besides ourselves for the purpose of general comm
        • Yes I'm serious. I personally don't interact with anyone in a third world nation. I am hard pressed to think of but a small handful, perhaps 3 people, that I personally know that DO deal with people in third world nations. And they maintain their contact via email. Perhaps YOU have the jaundiced viewpoint of everyone in Africa is living in thatch roof huts and trying to plow fields of wheat with an ox.

          Yes I'm sure that they do exist in the world but from my small world view, the view I have to deal with
          • I didn't say Africa, I said third world countries (which, by definition, are undeveloped and generally without technology). It doesn't matter if you as an individual don't deal with undeveloped nations. Your post suggested that we ought not care AS A NATION about concerning ourself with paper communications. This would just further the divide between the US and the rest of the world and only lead to more issues. I am not suggesting we ignore the role of computers, all I am argueing is that we shouldn't
  • Dictionary (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dancingmad ( 128588 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @10:36AM (#13880403)
    There's already a Japanese-English dictionary for the DS, but it's so so at best. A good handwriting system for the machine would be an incredible boon - often times I'm presented with a kanji I simply don't know the reading for (and I can't input it into my electronic dictionary's QWERTY interface). I do know enough kanji to be able to copy many down by writing them, so being able to write say a compund and having the DS spit out a list of possible readings and defintions would be amazing and would help me learn Japanese in the real world (here in Japan anyway) more easily as I could begin decoding stuff in the world witout need of my onerous New Nelson Kanji dictionary.
    • I bought a Sharp Zarus in 1997 for about $200 (in yen), which had fairly reliable handwriting recognition for kanji. Kanji I think are even easier to recognize than kana. Although they are more complicated, many can easily distinguished by stroke count and stroke direction alone. Some kana are fairly difficult to tell apart. I had an easier time with kanji than English letters, which have no standard stroke pattern.

      I recently got the same dictionary you did for the DS and I had assumed it would have kan
  • I For One (Score:5, Funny)

    by Paul Slocum ( 598127 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @11:08AM (#13880619) Homepage Journal
    Welcane aur new hondwriting recogmition ouerlonds!
  • by MacFury ( 659201 )
    Oh Apple, why won't you bring back the Newton. :-(
  • Kearney: Hey Dolph, take a memo on your Newton, 'beat up Martin'.

    "Beat up Martin"

    Newton translates:
    "Eat up Martha

    Newton hits Martin in the head.
  • I don't know about anyone else but I can't hardly read my own handwriting as it is (the reason I type on a computer :P ) I can't really see much use for it in games. Then again someone will come up with an off the wall idea that will fly. What's next? Voice recognition for pokemon games? I can already see kids yelling at their DS more so than nintendogs cause.
    • I can think of a few occasions where the game controls aren't enough: RP games, on-line chat, settings. The ever-expanding abilities of new devices means a joystick isn't going to handle our every need forever.

      I've been using Decuma on my P800, and I think most people will be pleasantly surprised. It's simply the most accurate handwriting recognition I've used yet. More importantly (to me), you don't need to train yourself on how to use it - it's just like real writing. And for those whose typing ability
  • Pen is Mightier (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday October 26, 2005 @12:27PM (#13881681) Homepage Journal
    I've really been disappointed by the tiny progress in using a stylus for input. A decade and a half ago, "pen computing" was "the next big thing". Microsoft even marketed a "Word for Windows for Workgroups for Pen Computing" edition (presumably with a "Spellcheck for Word for..."). The Palm Pilot actually delivered on the Apple Newton's promise to use our pen skills to deal with little mobile devices. But now even Palm devices, like Treos, usually disregard the pen. I think it's not so much the lack of writing recognition (which is more than adequate, though it does have problems), as the lack of any unique pen advantages to compensate for having to use a separate pen rather than an integrated keyboard.

    Pens offered an opportunity to use an expressive, intuitive gestural interface. Even mouse gestures have run circles around pen gestures. I'd like to use a pen to indicate multiple selections, associations, layouts, flows, scales, shapes. I think an interface that used chinese symbols as commands on selected objects would have tremendous popularity, and maybe even work with a huge new global zeitgeist that could jump all kinds of boundaries represented by keyboards, especially QWERTY.

    We still have the opportinity to use pointers for a really expressive, simple interface "for the masses". I built a "light pen" for my Atari PC over 20 years ago. Even Treos still come with styluses, and now the DS will recognize handwriting. Most people use pens, probably even more than keyboards, especially worldwide. That input mode isn't going away, even if it's not being pushed. Even though OSes and apps still haven't delivered on their potential, there's still lots of pent-up (pun intended) demand to use them. I don't think the breakthru lies in dropping the pen in favor of a fingertip, though I'd like to see some working software that tested that avenue. I think that once we get a pen-centric UI paradigm that does things keyboards and mice cannot, we'll get pens that people won't put down.
    • I'd like to use a pen to indicate multiple selections, associations, layouts, flows, scales, shapes. I think an interface that used chinese symbols as commands on selected objects would have tremendous popularity, and maybe even work with a huge new global zeitgeist that could jump all kinds of boundaries represented by keyboards, especially QWERTY.

      Really? Care to elaborate? Are you suggesting that if I want to increase the size of an image in my word document by 50% that I should enter the 20 or so stro

      • I'm suggesting that tapping the image and scrawling probably a 3-stroke character (like the "big" [] character), without dropping the stylus for the mouse or keyboard, is a good UI. If the gesture strokes are going to be a character, why not use characters that are already understood by literally billions of people?
    • But now even Palm devices, like Treos, usually disregard the pen. I think it's not so much the lack of writing recognition (which is more than adequate, though it does have problems), as the lack of any unique pen advantages to compensate for having to use a separate pen rather than an integrated keyboard.

      Actually, I would say it has more to do with one-handed operation than anything. Devices with side buttons and scroll wheels can be used one handed, where if you need to do everything with a pen, you
      • I think most "pen" operations could be one-handed, as I've generally experienced with my Palm Pilot, if the software were better able to indicate the "hotspot" with fingertip motions. I'd start with an onscreen cursor crosshair moved just above the sensed fingertip, but I'm sure years of R&D, with mass market feedback (like keyboards, mouse and even styluses have gotten) would evolve an even better interface.

        Keyboards are faster for inputing alphanumerics, but most operations, especially of mobile devic
    • Well, it depends.

      While the overall UI leaves a bit to be desired (PenPoint was much nicer than Windows for Pen Computing 'cause it was built from the ground up as a ``pen-centric'' UI, while Windows for Pen Computing grafter pen interaction on as an afterthought) and Windows XP Professional Tablet PC Edition continues in this vein, there are some really brilliant UI designs / concepts:

      - Alias Sketchbook (pie menus done right --- any tool / option is a pen flick away)
      - Ambient Design's ArtRag
      • I spent a little time with GRiD a decade ago, and hoped they'd leap to a new paradigm. Some of those GUIs you mentioned suggest one.
        I want to see a GUI that is entirely devoted to representing data without boundaries, without onscreen "applications". I want each MIME type identifiable and associated with consistent GUI elements for their specific production (creation/editing), consumption (reading/playing), searching/browsing, sending and quoting operations. With multiple background proce
        • What I really want to see is an app that allows one to identify discrete bits of data in text stream and then query it in an ad hoc fashion much as you obliquely describe.

          (who remembers his GRiD laptop with great fondness.)
          • I think I get "identify discrete bits of data in text stream", like selecting a word, phrase, sentence or paragraph fragment of text, I suppose streaming from a server (like subtitles, rather than a complete text downloaded as a single object). But what is it to query that fragment? Query the server for that fragment? But you already have it. Query the server for other objects related to the received fragment, either lexically or by metadata?
            • By "query" I meant being able to do sums and totals &c. of all of the data. Say something like Lotus Improv but with a freer structure. A hybrid of a note-taking program PIM and database. Having an AI like sBook would be nice.

    • Alex Trebek: Yeah, it was a trick question, Mr. Connery. Why don't you pick a category?

      Sean Connery: I've got to ask you about the Penis Mightier.

      Alex Trebek: What? No. No, no, that is The Pen is Mightier.

      Sean Connery: Gussy it up however you want, Trebek. What matters is does it work? Will it really mighty my penis, man?

      Alex Trebek: It's not a product, Mr. Connery.

      Sean Connery: Because I've ordered devices like that before - wasted a pretty penny, I don't mind telling you. And if The Penis Mightier works,
  • DS Training For Adults can already recognize when you write numbers with the stylus. I'm sure it's much easier to do but it still does it on the math part of the "game".
  • It would help if the people disparaging handwriting recognition had actually used Decuma. Right now my biggest problem with my PDA (Dell Axim WinMobile2003) is that Decuma doesn't support Mobile 2003 devices, so I can no longer use it. For both Japanese AND English, the software is spot-on. Right now I'm using a hacked version of the Japanese IME that a very clever hacker got working for Japanese and the standard transcriber, and my note-taking (in english) has been slowed down immensely with transcriber ov
  • I've used Decuma's handwriting recognition software on my Palm, and it's a pretty competent system, didn't take very long for me to get used to. The main reason I ditched it was screen real-estate; I've got a "square" Palm rather than one with Virtual Graffiti, so I couldn't justify giving up that much space when the Graffiti pad was already available. That shouldn't be too much of an issue on the DS, of course, because anything that uses handwriting recognition can be expected to dedicate the touchscreen f

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