Dasher, A Flasher Way To Write

Propellerhead Top Tip

Over the years there have been countless attempts to do away with the clunky and antiquated QWERTY keyboard, everything from voice text entry to the single-handed Dvorak keyboard. QWERTY made sense in the days of the typewriter. The layout is designed to slow the typist down and prevent the mechanical type bar hammers from crashing into each other — but it looks like we’re stuck with it, or are we… 

Propellerhead wonders if the keyboard’s days could be numbered, at least that’s the idea behind Dasher, a program designed by David MacKay and David Ward at Cambridge University Department of Physics. Dasher is a keyboardless text entry system that requires only a small movement of the mouse to select letters and characters as they appear on the screen. It works like a video game, just select the letters as they pass by, but here’s the really clever bit, it’s predictive.

As soon as Dasher figures out the word you are trying to spell it starts displaying the missing letters as well. With practice Dasher users can achieve a healthy 25 words per minute, almost twice as fast as the best on-screen keyboards.

The applications are endless, from helping those with impaired movement in their hands to anyone who hates keyboards; it can even be controlled by eye movements. The really good news is you can try it for free; there are versions for Windows (2k & XP only). Mac, Linux and Pocket PCs. It’s really easy to use and you can copy and paste directly into Word, so give it a try and see if you think it’s time to kick out the keyboard. In case you’ve forgotten or you are new here there are lots more great tips, tweaks and utilities to try at PCTopTips

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