RealTime IT News

Tegic Gets Smarter With Text Messaging

Tegic Communications, a subsidiary of America Online , has released the latest version of its T9 smart text message system, which allows users of wireless devices to type entire words or sentences with a single keystroke.

The Seattle-based company said the 7.2 version of T9 Text Input provides a broad linguistic database with thousands of words, emoticons and punctuation that users activate through standard telephone keypads.

"Everything about the phone customer is reflected in their personality features," Lisa Nathan, director of product management, told internetnews.com. "It adapts to the end user."

For example, Nathan said that European teens developed their own "funky, hip" language, or "slanguage," for expediency purposes while text messaging. The input technology absorbs that language and recognizes it when the the user next messages with the device.

The company has included a dictionary in the software for users to keep pace with those terms. Business is also driving change in text messaging, and the language in the boardroom is also recognized as adding to the medium's lexicon.

"Whether or not you are using the Queens English or the Queens Danish, it can adapt," she said.

And if the program doesn't recognize a word, it will learn it and recognize it the next time you enter it. The text experience gets faster every time it is used, according to Nathan.

The software also simplifies the use of wireless communications services, such as SMS (short messaging service), wireless Internet access and wireless e-mail by making text input on a mobile phone easier, she said.

The latest T9 version has added three South East Asian languages -- Bengali, Tamil and Urdu -- and allows users to switch among any of the program's 45 languages. The growth of the text messaging market across the globe, especially in hotbed tech sectors like Southeast Asia, play a pivotal role in choosing languages for development, said Nathan.

Although the North American markets have been slow to embrace mobile text messaging, primarily because of the lack of infrastructure to support it, its use is on the rise, according to industry experts.

Text messaging and mobile instant messaging have seen sharp increases, according to a study released earlier this year by the Yankee Group. In fact, 2.6 billion text messages were sent and received in the first quarter of 2004, up from 1.2 billion one year earlier.

Tegic has focused on the Asian markets, but languages with character-based lettering, such as Chinese, Korean and Japanese, have proved more challenging to Tegic's engineers. The company hopes to roll out updated versions of those language options within the next year.

According to Tegic, there are nearly 300 mobile phone models available throughout the world today that include T9 Text Input. The technology has been licensed to major consumer electronics and communications equipment manufacturers representing more than 90 percent of annual mobile phone production worldwide.