Apple Computer’s search for ‘Handwriting Recognition Engineer’ revives ‘Tablet Mac’ rumors

Apple has recently posted a job description for a “Handwriting Recognition Engineer” to work out of Santa Clara Valley, California:

Are you passionate about providing handwriting solutions to end customers? Do you strongly believe that using a stylus and a tablet is the way to interact with computers?

Apple Handwriting Recognition team is seeking an engineer who will be responsible for advancing gesture and handwriting recognition on Mac OS X. The ideal candidate will be an expert in the area of pattern recognition, with an excellent understanding of handwriting recognition issues. The person will also assume primary responsibility for maintaining existing code and tools.

Key Requirements:
• Expert in the area of pattern recognition
• Strong design and analytical skills
• Strong coder with experience in C
• Ability to write quality code and ship quality products
• Ability to manage several concurrent projects
• Track record of innovation and excellence on previous assignments

Additional Desired Skills and Experience:
• Well versed in the area of handwriting recognition
• Knowledge of and experience with neural network algorithms
• Experience with Unix and familiarity with Mac OS X
• Knowledge of Cocoa or Carbon (with desire and ability to learn the other)
• Excellent communication skills

PhD or a minimum of 5 years experience

Apple Handwriting Recognition team is responsible for Inkwell which allows Mac OS X users to use their graphics tablets to write wherever one would want to on the screen, and the recognized text just flows to the current insertion point, as if it had been typed on a keyboard. Users can also use Inkwell to write commands. Inkwell provides a set of simple gestures that can be used for common functions, such as cut, copy, paste and select all. More info about Apple’s Inkwell here.

[Attribution: Mac Rumors]
So, does this job posting hint at a forthcoming Tablet Mac (the computer tablet done right), the rebirth of the Apple Newton, this thing, or something else?

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Emperor Gates’ new clothes: the failed mainstream Tablet PC – August 22, 2005
RUMOR: Apple Tablet exists running ‘reduced version’ of Mac OS X – May 24, 2005
Apple granted U.S. patent for Tablet Mac (with images) – May 10, 2005
Apple looking to add wireless connectivity to iPod, rumored Tablet Mac? – August 25, 2004
Apple hints at ‘handheld tablet computer’ with European design trademark filing – August 13, 2004
The Age ponders video Bluetooth iPod; tablet Mac possibilities – January 22, 2003
Apple readying secret iTablet for Macworld unveiling? – January 03, 2003
Tablet Mac watch begins – November 17, 2002

45 Comments

  1. Put this together with the design patent and the Intel Handtop oriented processor (think great power at low watt) and what do you get? Definitly an Apple iBook Mini with WiFi and handrecognition. Sometimes next year.

  2. Apple has had a small team continuously working on handwriting recognition since before the Newton came out (12 years ago this month IIRC).

    This could be nothing more than Apple’s replacing a person who moved on to other stuff.

  3. Mac OS X has had the Newton’s handwriting recognition engine built into it for quite some time now (since at least 10.3, possibly even in 10.2). The recogniser understands a few different gestures from the original Newton recogniser, but it’s otherwise essentially unchanged, to the point where the old Newton easter egg is still in there. (If you have a tablet, write “Rosetta! Rosetta! Rosetta!” and you’ll see what I mean.)

    It’s the printed text recogniser from Newton OS 2.0 that’s present in Mac OS X – the cursive recogniser isn’t there. Also not present is the shape recogniser, and if memory serves deferred recognition is implemented either. The recogniser is kick-ass – generally getting 99%+ of things written, so long as you try to keep from writing cursively. Even if you do join a few letters together it still gets it right. Apple developed this recogniser in-house, as an off-shoot of the speech recognition software they developed for Mac OS.

    It would be fantastic if Apple released a tablet Mac. I’ve thought for a long time that it would be good if Apple’s screens supported pen input. Back when I was a Newton developer I would often find myself trying to tap at things on my Mac’s screen when moving between the two. Ideally this should be a standard Powerbook feature.

  4. doubt it will b a palmtop, the market for those is slowing. Most likely a tablet, or just a relacement for the member of staff previously working on the project. A smartphone / connected pda would have a market, but i dont c apple bringing something like that out. Thats y i turned to palm’s treo 650.

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