MyScript recently announced the winners of the MyScript App Challenge, an online hackathon that challenged developers to create innovative applications of digital ink technology.
One of the winners, Faisal Almahdi, owner of Paradigm Management Consulting Inc. developed an app called Draw & Dial. The app incorporates digital ink technology by enabling users to easily find phone contacts by simply drawing the letters of their names. With MyScript Superimposed technology, users can continuously write characters on top of each other, providing simple dialing with little to no distraction in situations such as driving.
Following the win, Faisal answered several questions about his background as a developer, how he came up with the idea for Draw & Dial, and his experience using MyScript technology.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and experience as a developer? Why did you choose to get into development?
Early in 1983, I received a scholarship to study electrical engineering. However, a computer science major was just being introduced at the University of North Carolina, and I fell in love at first sight. Software development was simple, a new frontier waiting to be discovered – and proved to be much more challenging in later years. After graduation, I was hired by Kuwait University to work on the transition of systems from the huge mainframes to the newly emerging personal computers. For 25 years and counting, I’ve worked on many business systems such as retail, real estate, accounting, payroll, document management, using ever-changing development in software technologies.
How did you come up with the idea for Draw & Dial?
Draw & Dial was more of a challenge than an original idea. After the flat touchscreens on mobile devices and smartphones emerged, we couldn’t feel the touch of the old buttons to make a quick dial. Voice-activated dialing was introduced but is facing many problems. So, the attention was turned to touch gestures. The problem seemed trivial at first glance; however making the right interaction with users was not simple at all. As a responsible driver, and reading about the high number of automobile fatalities due to distractions while driving, it made me more persistent than ever to find a practical, easy, intuitive solution to this problem.
How did you incorporate digital ink technology into Draw & Dial?
The developers at MyScript have done a great job simplifying my experience to integrate ATK libraries in the Draw & Dial app. Draw & Dial consists of three main logical components:
1)The touch gesture to handle letter drawing, which uses MyScript ATK libraries
2) The voice feedback, which uses Apple’s own voice libraries
3) The “Contact Assistant” module which helps the caller guess who is his next contact based on several factors
As you can see, MyScript is the main gateway to the whole user experience in this app and has been vital to its success.
Can you share a bit about your experience using MyScript products? What are some of the benefits?
What directed my attention to MyScript was that it’s a business focused on this kind of technology, unlike other companies with an assortment of unrelated products. A major benefit is providing two implementation options: embedded and cloud-based library and service. Another benefit is support for a large set of languages, which is a primary condition to develop for the international community with apps such as Draw & Dial.
What industries do you think digital ink technology has the potential to impact moving forward?
Since handwriting is a natural gesture to human beings, I think the education sector is a large candidate for this type of technology. In addition, any workplace where using a keyboard is more tedious or prone to errors such as construction sites, workshops, factories, crowded places, amusement parks would be a good fit for MyScript technology.
Interested in trying Draw & Dial? The app is available now on the App Store.
Note to developers: Interested in learning more about the MyScript App Challenge winners? Each winner will be featured on our blog in the coming weeks. Want to build your own app using MyScript technology? Click here to visit our Developer web site.