Microsoft Trying To Tame Wild Thing

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Microsoft is working on a prototype program that allows searchers to use abbreviated spellings as search queries on mobile phones.

Currently called “The Wild Thing” by Microsoft Research developer Bo Thiesson, the queries are further speeded by auto-completion technology based upon the popularity of certain searches.

From News.com:

“How can you find information about Condoleezza Rice on the Internet? Type in ‘2*#7423′.”

Michael Kanellos, the writer of the article had the unenviable task of explaining the configuration of the Xnav interface (a tough task, as the letter and number layout remind me of my old IntelliVision game system controllers). Lucky for the reader, there’s a picture. But somebody should point out that “abbreviations and truncated spellings of words” is a bit redundant and repetitive.

But this description of The Wild Thing prototype’s function is sufficient:

“The query TR SF turns up Thai restaurants in San Francisco, complete with search results grouped under a header for local Thai restaurants. It also turns up Tower Records and The Stinking Rose, a local restaurant, but punching in those four letters took less time on a handheld keyboard than the full formal query on a mobile phone keypad.”

A Microsoft engineer says that kids are “wicked fast” at picking up typing on the new ways of typing and searching. The goal is to get to 45 words per minute.

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