18
Mar
2013-03-18_16h44_56

We generally have a rule at Android Police HQ: we don't post about Kickstarter/Indiegogo projects at least until they've been funded. Too often things turn into vaporware and people's money ends up wrapped up in things like Diaspora that never take off. Today, we're making a rare exception to talk about Minuum, because this video starts off as "Oh, that's kinda cool," and quickly shifts to "Holy crap, that's amazeballs!"

As you can see in the beginning of the video, the concept is fairly simple. It's yet another predictive text input algorithm that allows you to be less accurate when typing. Nothing special, right? Aside from the fact that this one happens to be adapted to allow the keyboard to take up significantly less space on the screen. In a world where we're building tablet-sized phones to solve the tiny screen problem, it's a big deal to save precious display real estate.

If that were all the company is looking to do with this keyboard, it would be mildly cool. Things start getting crazy at about 1:15 in the video, though. Here we see a version of the app that floats over whatever you're doing and can be moved or resized as you see fit. We happen to love floating apps, so this works nicely for us.

2013-03-18_16h52_16

It doesn't stop there, though. The company behind Minuum is ambitious enough to be targeting other types of input as well. We see them demo a version of the keyboard attached to a smart watch that uses infrared sensors to type on a person's arm, and even a strip of paper connected to a display with some wires. While these are obviously unfinished technologies, the idea is pretty bold: by being able to put full QWERTY input on to a single line, modern sensors can move typing into a whole new world of form factors.

The project has currently received $1,485 of its $10,000 goal with 31 days left. We're tempering our excitement here because, as stated before, it's very easy for crowd-funding projects to disappear into the ether without so much as a beta. Furthermore, the utility of this app is entirely predicated on its ability to do what it says it can do and, without a review copy, we can't verify that it's as accurate as it needs to be.

Still, the $5 backer prize is early access to the beta by June of this year. Cameron was excited enough about this to invest himself, so assuming the company meets its goal, we should be able to provide a review of how well it works before too long.

Source: Indiegogo

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • GraveUypo

    looks good. i loved how they're thinking beyond the small screen. this seems worthy of backing

  • Tony Allen

    I was really hoping to find a link to this in the market at the end of this article -.- maybe soonish.

  • Brian Hamrick

    Oh my, this is amzing,

  • Kenny O

    Nice, it's worth a shot for only $5

    • dannyR

      It's worth posting a free ad here for nothing.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

        Huh?

        • dannyR

          3 people got it, Artem. Some people have to pay for their copy up front. Others pay shills.

      • ElfirBFG

        An Android tech blog posting about Android software does not qualify as an advertisement. Is it publicity? Yes, but so was the Chameleon coverage, and I believe it is evident that NONE of that coverage was intended as advertising.

  • Firebomb

    I didn't understand how you can insert a space without selecting a word on the screen. Can anybody explain me please ?

    • dannyR

      Simple. It's called a 'hoax'.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

        Baseless skepticism is the best.

        • dannyR

          Watch the video. Especially toward the end. It's dripping with hoax-oil.

          "There's a sucker born every minute." --P.T. Barnum.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            I highly doubt 2 Masters students and an associate professor are out to scam people with their names in the open like that.

            http://www.linkedin.com/pub/will-walmsley/9/a7/268

            http://khaitruong.com/index.phtml

            http://www.linkedin.com/pub/xavier-snelgrove/36/2a0/89a

            Though, yes, I haven't personally verified they're who they say they are and whether they are indeed behind the project. There's a huge conspiracy there, I'm sure of it, so I'll leave it to you.

          • dannyR

            I phoned both contact people at the funding body attached to the university around the time of these comments. No response as yet, but honestly, there's no evidence they are vetting the developers, hand on with their diagrams, code, algorithms, or whatever. There appears to be no responsible oversight, but honestly, some hoaxes can just bite some people on the a$s and they still don't feel it.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

            "Baseless skepticism is the best skepticism."

            I mean, okay. We like facts around here, though.

          • dannyR

            Is it a fact that it's still vaporware?

          • ElfirBFG

            So, _you're_ the guy writing 'FAKE!' on _every_ YouTube video?

          • dannyR

            That is a question?
            If so, the answer is 'NO'?!

    • Marnie

      The FAQs on their page say that you can swipe to the right for space... and that the full beta version will have an optional space bar you can pull up (if you don't mind it taking up more screenspace).

      • Xavier Snelgrove

        Yup! that's exactly right. I'm Xavier, one of the researchers involved with the project. All the videos showing Minuum in action are real working alpha versions, (including the game-controller and arm demos) with swiping to the right entering a space.

        • armshouse

          How about providing AP with the alpha for a quick review of where its at? Might help with the funding ;) plus I want to know how far along it is so far

    • EMullins

      It's on the FAQ.

  • bobbutts

    It's a good pitch. Worth a few bucks to see if it work as well as I'd believe after watching the video.

  • Aaron Berlin

    Is it just me, or was the sound mix on that video just terrible? Very cool concept, though!

    • Andy

      sound was way too loud and over takes the main vocal

      • dannyR

        Not loud enough.

    • dannyR

      They need to turn the loud music up. I can still hear snake-oil peddler.

      • ergu

        WHAT?

        • dannyR

          I SAID THEY NEED TO TURN...

          Oh never mind. I guess they did.

    • Freak4Dell

      Just made me want to punch my screen. Is the idea good? I have no freaking clue, because all I heard was music.

    • Xavier Snelgrove

      Hi Aaron,

      This is Xavier, on the Minuum team. Yeah we're kicking ourselves a bit on the audio there. Turns out publishing the video on minimal sleep was a bad idea. We're remixing that now, and we'll update it soon.

      Glad you like the demos, though! We think they almost speak for themselves.

    • Magnus100

      What sound, could barely here it.

  • dannyR

    They are blocking comments on their youTube video pending approval.

    I'd say this was April 1st a bit early, but it seems to be a for-money hoax.

  • Freak4Dell

    I don't understand why apps need funding. Either you've already built it to demo it, or your demo is full of crap and you may or may not build the actual product later. If it's the first, release the app and people will buy. If it's the latter, stop trying to scam people.

    • Kevin Aaronson

      Agreed, release a beta which allows users to decide whether or not it sucks. But I guess if people WILL throw money at it, then why release a beta? I just don't understand the trust people misplace in upstart companies that ask for funding in exchange for a promise.

    • Wayne Randall

      Chameleon. Lesson about funding apps, complete.

      • Freak4Dell

        Whatever happened with that? I thought that was a bunch of BS back then, too, and I posted something similar about how it was stupid for them to ask for funding. Are you saying they did come through in the end?

        • Wayne Randall

          Judging by user reviews, success would be an antonym. By funding an app's development you forgo the miniscule 15 minute window of relief Google offers.

          • Freak4Dell

            Ouch. Yeah, I'm glad I thought it was stupid to fund that app back then.

            This is another reason I really like the dev of utter!. He put out a demo, but the app he used in his demo was mostly developed with him and only him in mind. In order to make it useable by other people too, he had to rewrite the app. He didn't ask for a penny to do this. Now he's putting out functioning beta builds, and he still has yet to ask for any money. This approach (among other good qualities that he has) guarantees that I will be paying for his app when he finally does start charging. If he had asked for money to even develop in the first place, I wouldn't have given it a second glance.

          • Ionut Costica

            And when he *does* start charging, most everybody's going to be up in arms about it, a la Solid Explorer...

          • http://profiles.google.com/rcastles Robert Castles

            I bought solid. Did people really whine?

          • Freak4Dell

            People whined about it because it was an abrupt change. The developer had always said he was going to charge for it, but he gave no warning about when, I guess. I don't know...I just paid for it. It's only $2, and it's the best file explorer, so I don't see any reason to complain.

          • Freak4Dell

            I don't think so. He's already made it clear that he will make a free version, too, so people can just use that if they want.

    • EMullins

      I don't understand it either. Maybe these guys feel they can't keep working on it unless somebody is giving them some kind of remuneration. Or maybe some of them think the project isn't going to generate enough interest with a simple Play store release and they felt that Kickstarter was the way to do it.

      Either way, this app doesn't look very appealing.

    • http://twitter.com/navjotbatra Navjot

      They have to work on getting predications working properly. This is quite a bit of work and they may be hiring full time developers to help with the project.

    • armshouse

      It may be full of bugs right now and they need someone to work full time for a couple of months to get it working properly. So might just be a salary plus marketing?

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      You know...I bet there are quite a few cases where an app developer *is* just trying to scam people. I can see it happening. In fact, these Kickstarter And Clones can easily be filled with people who want to get paid first.

      However, when you consider how very little that people can get paid on the Play Store, when you think about how unbelievably low that the average price for an app is, how frequently people run to comment threads to say they'd never pay for an app for X dollars, so they'll just pirate it instead...can you really blame a developer for trying to secure a little funding before they release what is clearly some pretty specialized software? Chameleon was a load of crap, imho, because it was just a bunch of widgets. Nothing special. Certainly not something that deserved a $30,000 advance (much less the $66k it got).

      But this? There's definitely some patentable tech going on in this app if it works. And $10k is hardly a cash out. $10k is about 2/3rds the yearly take home salary of a full-time cart pusher at Wal-Mart. Do you really think that the developers here (who, as Artem pointed out elsewhere in the comments, have masters degrees, one's an associate professor, and all are using their real names publicly online) are trying to scam people for a quick pay out before actually building anything, and their goal is $10,000? Do you think they're about to disappear to the Cayman Islands or wherever, laughing all the way to the bank?

      These sites are tools. That's all. They're used to build hype and demand, gauge interest and secure funding to be better able to build products. Some people game the system. Others are in it for serious, but end up unable to deliver. That's the deal going in. Is it stupid sometimes for people to invest? Probably. But what you're proposing is that developers should always do all the work first, without ever seeing a dime to use on better marketing, hiring developers, or even getting a bite to eat. You are saying they should literally do 100% of the work before ever releasing their product, drop it on the Play Store, and just hope that 10k people will buy it for a buck. If you actually look at how real companies are formed, and not just the imaginary economy of developers in their basement banging out an app in a day and making it rich, initial investment is commonplace. In fact, it's borderline necessary for most successful developers. You may not see it, but it happens all the time. This time it just happens in front of you.

      If you don't want to invest, fine. But don't say that every single developer in the world is a scam artist just because they're attempting to be an actual business, instead of a fluffy-hearted "I'll do all my work for free and rely on the good graces of the 'WTF, just pirate it' community" hope and ponies show.

      • Freak4Dell

        If I said every developer that did this was a scam artist, then you said every person in the world is a pirate. Clearly, neither of those statements are true. Don't put words in my mouth.

        I'll admit, I'm biased by the fact that I think the product itself is not that great. To me, it's another keyboard with some stupid feature that won't work right and will get old really quickly.

        However, even without the bias, this is unnecessary. They clearly don't need much money. I guarantee you they would have gotten their $10,000 from the Play Store. If they charged $5, they would only need 2,858 people to buy it (let's round it up to 3,000 just in case there's any fees on top of the commission). Out of 750 million people with Android phones, it's nearly statistically impossible for there not to be 3000 of those that would pay for something like this. Hell, on Indiegogo, they've raised over $20,000 already, from 2,471 people. They have 30 days left, so again, it's almost statistically impossible to not get another 529 people to pay (not that they need it...some people donated a lot more than $5). To say they needed Indiegogo would be absurd. Indiegogo didn't get them the publicity...you did. They had almost nothing before you posted the article. If you had posted the article and linked to the Play Store app entry instead, they would have gotten the same publicity.

        Basically, they got the same publicity they would have, but they also now have the ability to keep all that money even if their app turns out to be junk. At least on the Play Store, you can return it (granted, the return window is very small, but at least it's there).

        As for starting a new business, typically you want to do that with as little risk as possible. Guess which one is lower risk on entry? The Play Store. Indiegogo charges 9% of any funds raised, which drops to 4% if your goal is met. Google Play charges $25 to register.

        I have no problem with someone wanting to start a business, and I have no problem with anyone seeking investors. However, if somebody wants me to invest in their business, then I expect to get something back. If all I'm getting back is an app, that's not investing. That's purchasing an app. In this case, it's purchasing an app that is probably not even real at the moment, and may or may not become real in the future. There's a proper place to purchase apps. It's called an app store. Google's is called the Play Store. When I look at potential investments, I want monetary gain from them. I don't want just an app, and I don't want my picture and biography on some website. I want money. I do make exceptions for tangible products, because those take money to mass produce. You can have a demo of a tangible product but not be able to distribute it because there's only one. For an app, if you have a demo, then I expect you to have the damn app, and there's no extra cost to redistribute. Hell, I'd probably invest in a potential app idea if I thought it was good enough. At least with that, I can say, okay, the developer has a good idea of what to do, and I like his idea, so I'll back it. I'd also consider it if they developed one thing, released it, then said, "We need more money to develop more things like this." That's basically what is done in the music industry. This, though...they have a demo, which again, means either the app exists, or the demo is fake. If the former is true, then they don't need any extra money to distribute it. If the latter is true, then I don't want to invest in a company that lies.

        You can try and justify it all you want, but it's undeniable that app development is inherently different than development of any other product. The traditional ways of business don't apply to apps.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

          The fact that *you* don't think it's necessary doesn't inherently make it a scam. THAT'S the thing you're not getting. You keep saying they could've done the same thing by putting their app on the Play Store. Ignoring, for just a moment, the THOUSANDS of apps that rot on the Play Store with very few downloads (statistically impossible to not get 3,000 downloads. Ha.), what in the world is the difference between that model and this? Because from where I'm sitting, $5 gets anyone early access. So they get literally the exact same return that putting it on the Play Store would. Except they can also incentivize *investors* to pitch in a bit more. This is how investment works. You don't like it? Fine. Don't go to Indiegogo. But that doesn't make it a scam.

          And yes, you did say that any app developer that puts their app on sites like Indiegogo either doesn't have a real product, or should just put it on the Play Store, else they're scamming people. That's myopic. This is just as legitimate of a business model as any other. Just because it can be used to scam people doesn't mean it *is* a scam. You can find scams on the Play Store. Does that mean devs should just distribute APKs themselves? No. That's preposterous.

          I find it unbelievably absurd that you think that the "traditional ways of business don't apply to apps", yet are willing to denounce a developer for using an unconventional business method. This is beyond ridiculous. People need to get paid. This developer tried to solve the problem of getting paid and came up with an initial Indiegogo campaign and an eventual launch on the Play Store. Everyone who contributes $5 or more gets the app. Just the same as they would on the Play Store. They also know that they don't get the 15 minute return window. There's no risk here that is not obviously stated up front. If you don't want to take the risk, fine. But don't decry every single app developer who chooses this method just because you don't like their app or don't prefer that method of building a business.

          Oh, and assuming that just putting it on the Play Store is enough to be successful is ignorant and narrow-minded. We watch dozens of apps float by that are great or worthwhile that rot because they lack a good marketing campaign or whatever. This is what they chose and hey, guess what? It's working. And you don't have the ability nor the authority to say that it was guaranteed to have gone down exactly the same way if they'd done something different. That's obscenely arrogant.

          • Freak4Dell

            LMAO...you crack me up, Eric. First of all, I never said this particular app was a scam. I always gave two possibilities, and maybe I happen to think that this app should have just been on the Play Store. I can see your utter desperation for this to be real from a mile away. I hope it works out for you. If they had just done what I suggested, it would have worked out for you now, instead of maybe possibly working out for you months from now.

            It's also cool that you're so humble about the effect that AP has on an app's (or potential app's) publicity. Hey, if you don't want to believe that your article was what sent this thing rocketing to the goal, fine. Give all the credit to some poorly done video and a single page on Indiegogo.

          • Sootie

            it was on reddit too, and that has never ever broken a website with hits....

          • http://www.facebook.com/zack.dennis Zack Dennis

            I'm suspicious that their choice to crowdfund it (rather than letting people buy the beta directly) is related to patent issues - Swype (Nuance Communications, actually) holds the original T9 patent and this system looks like it is very derivative of the original method that was claimed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000003999549 Mike Harris

    I'd like to see what this is all aboot.

  • ron hudson

    like the concept, would love to try it out, needs a catchy name

  • http://twitter.com/rbyrnes Rob Byrnes

    I'm a little skeptical, is it too good to be true? Heck, for $5 I'll take a gamble....

  • spydie

    music was too loud behind the guy telling about the keyboard... couldn't hear what he was saying, but I invested $5 anyway

  • Matthew Jones

    Why not put it beta? I beta tested swiftkey and hated it. I was glad that I didn't have to pay to find out. I went from liking swype to really liking the stock in 4.1.

  • spydie

    don't forget, it costs you nothing if it doesn't reach funding. Your money will be refunded... of course that's no guarantee that you'll get ANYTHING after they've been funded. But, it's only $5

  • http://twitter.com/creggerspoulton Craig Poulton

    Here's what bugs me about these, in the video they show it running on android, so put it in the market for $5, sell 3000 copies and they're your $15k.

  • wlmeng11

    https://github.com/diaspora/diaspora/commits/develop

    6 commits today.

    Yeah, Diaspora is totally dead.

  • Owen Finn

    Chances are nothing in that video is actually "working", and it's a mock-up with carefully planned dictionary words. I'm sure the "devs" on this project could in fact do a live demo of the alpha to dispel that? *crickets*

  • http://twitter.com/navjotbatra Navjot

    Holy crap you guys they're already at $8,000 dollars now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/observerbg Nikolay Chakrakchiev

    The campaign total has risen to: $11,865
    Good job, AndroidPolice!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jwadden.mobile James Wadden

    I watched the video. I have one word. WOW!

  • JP

    Want a screen for viewing instead of a keyboard? Want to see what you're typing instead of looking at what keys you're pressing?

    How about them slide-out QWERTYs hmm? No seriously, it's ridiculous that manufacturers won't make them anymore because they cost "too much" or "they make the phone look bulky".

  • Elias

    Typing with 9 buttons is such a innovative idea! If only someone have thought of it before, they could even have called it T9!

    Yeah, I know, different groups of letters. But how can one know if the sequential grouping used by T9 isn't actually better to generate accurate predictions?

  • keep_it_oldskool

    Kickstarter ay!?
    Wish that thing existed for the wright brothers when they were taking flight... they might have been able to go straight to an Airbus a380 !

  • linuxdood

    whatever happened to blind type? Not a word after google bought them. I wanted that!!!

  • Dan

    +1 Amazeballs

  • Tyler

    I know Will personally, and he's shown me a working prototype of the one-liner keyboard, I've played around with it, it works pretty nicely and surprisingly accurate, this is definitely not vaporware folks!

  • Slighter

    If it's a go on more than just JB, then this keyboard whore can forego the price of a pint to say I was there when it all began

  • NH

    There's already a pretty good tablet keyboard that lets you configure the exact size available here -

    http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.touchscapesoftware.klearkeys

    They've just released a phone version too but not tried that yet -

    http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.touchscapesoftware.klearkeys.phone

  • http://www.facebook.com/zack.dennis Zack Dennis

    Given your take on the Minuum, I thought you might be interested in my thoughts on the subject: http://www.asetniop.com/blog/?p=278

  • Brix

    this is awesome..thumb up for me 100%...

  • http://twitter.com/BadgerW33d Tumbleweed Badger

    Great idea, but I think an a-to-z layout from left to right would be better than a flattened qwerty layout... it's about time somebody came up with a better solution to creating text on a touchscreen phone than the qwerty keyboard layout that only makes sense (slightly) when used with 10 fingers to touch type on a physical keyboard: and tbh... how many of us actually know the qwertyuiop,asdfghjkl,zxcvbnm layout well enough to intuitively poke a finger to the right point on a line composed of those 3 rows of letters interlaced?

    Gimme A-Z in a row and I'll pay $10 for it.

    The best android keyboard solution for ease of use and intuitiveness, plus physically ergonomic design that I've discovered so far is Tactile Keyboard made by nscrybe.com ... it fits much better with the slate/tablet concept, and the human body .https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.nscrybe.android.tactilekeyboard

    I'm not knocking minuum though: it's a really smart piece of kit! :)

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