Microsoft Developing Handwriting Software

Microsoft Corp. is working with Brown University to develop software that will recognize complex handwriting and gestures.

Brown is developing programs that recognize and interpret more complex symbols and text used in fields such as mathematics, chemistry, music and art. That can be useful because it sometimes feels more natural to write or draw than to use a mouse and keyboard to enter data.

"In some cases, the pen is mightier than the keyboard," said Andries van Dam, vice president for research at Brown, which is getting $1.2 million from Microsoft Research over three years to develop the software.

Chemistry students at Brown currently use one program that allows scientists to sketch a molecule and have it show up as a three-dimensional model on their computer. Researchers say they want to improve such technology and make it available for everyday use.