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Last Updated: Saturday, 20 September, 2003, 06:44 GMT 07:44 UK
Intel helps fingers type faster
Fast tap keypad, Digit Wireless
A close-up of the Fastap keypad
Chip giant Intel is backing a novel way to make it easier to input text on mobile handsets.

At its autumn developer event, Intel showed off a concept universal communicator using the Fastap keypad that fits 26 letters alongside the numbers on a handset.

The Fastap keypad does away with the need to press keys several times to scroll through the letters associated with each number.

Intel's prototype device rolls together mobile phone technology with wi-fi, video and audio streaming and improved security.

Big partner

Fastap was developed by former Apple ergonomic design boss David Levy as a way to make it easier to enter text using the tiny keypad on a handset.

The design puts letters of the alphabet on raised buttons that fit between the keys.

Words can be typed by pressing the raised keys, and numbers by pressing the four keys that surround a particular number.

Intel's universal communicator, Digit Wireless
Intel is adapting the design for its concept gadget
Digit Wireless, which licences use of the Fastap technology, has signed deals with phone makers in the Far East but Intel is by far the largest technology firm to back the idea.

Intel is relatively new to the handset chip market but has ambitions to become a significant provider of the hardware inside the handsets that we carry around.

Intel has adapted the design for the concept universal communicator that was unveiled by Intel boss Paul Ottelini at the Developer Forum that took place from 16-18 September.

The concept gadget crammed together many of the technologies Intel believes consumers will look for in future smart phones.

Mr Ottelini said that Intel had to adapt as smaller, smarter gadgets become popular with consumers.

He said it had to look into new ways to make chips to cram more into the small form factors becoming popular.

The universal communicator is a mobile phone that also has onboard personal digital assistant functions, a video camera, several different wireless technologies and can stream audio and video to other devices.

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