Turn Handwriting Into Text With InkWell
Did you know that Mac OS X comes with a built in handwriting recognition system known as InkWell. If you have a pen and tablet for input, you can use it right away with no set-up needed! It's known to be quirky and hasn't been updated for a while, but Apple recently advertised for a handwriting engineer so there's hope yet!
The only place I can find InkWell mentioned on the main Apple website is in the Accessibility section under Physical & Motor Skills assistance. InkWell only recognises separated hand printing, not handwriting where the letters are joined up, which limits its usefulness for writing long stretches of text. Most information I could find seemed to agree that it would be most appropriate as a secondary input source rather than for primary use.
If you're wondering what this looks like when it's being used, check out Antony's handwriting in action which includes a QuickTime movie demo of InkWell at work. The primary internet resource is the InkSpatter blog which is occasionally updated with irreverent but helpful information from an InkWell user. There are few enough posts on InkSpatter that you can probably read through them all, but these two struck me as most helpful for somebody just getting going:
- Inkwell Accuracy Tip: Take Time to Turbo Calibrate Word Spacing
- 3 Simple Tips to Tweak Your Tablet for Inkwell
In terms of software which takes best advantage of InkWell, the only piece I could find was this:
inkBook lets you use a tablet and InkWell handwriting recognition technology to write notes by hand. The notes remain visible as handwritten ink, but can be searched, copied to other applications, and exported to a text file.
Because InkWell hasn't recently been updated, there's not any "buzz" about it's use and not much updated information on the net. I think it's still a usable resource for people with certain disabilities though, especially those impairments which mean switching between input technologies is helpful.
- Ricky Buchanan