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Dasher

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Dasher is a computer accessibility tool which enables users to write without using a keyboard, by entering text on a screen using a pointing device such as a mouse, a touchpad, a touch screen, a trackball, a joystick, a Wii Remote, or even a mouse operated by the foot or head. It acts like a dynamic on-screen keyboard.

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Design

Whatever the writer uses as a pointer, he /she selects a letter from ones displayed on a screen, whereupon the system uses a probabilistic predictive model to anticipate the likely character combinations for the next piece of text, and accord these higher priority by displaying them more prominently than highly unlikely letter combinations. This saves the user effort and time as they proceed to choose the next letter from those offered. The process of composing text in this way has been likened to an arcade game, as users zoom through characters that fly across the screen in order to input text. The system learns from experience which letter combinations are the most popular, and changes its display protocol over time to reflect this.

Production

Dasher is licensed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). It is available for several platforms including Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, Pocket PC, and Unix-like operating systems with GTK support.

Dasher was invented by David J. C. MacKay and developed by David Ward and other members of MacKay's Cambridge research group. The Dasher project is supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation.


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