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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

February 14, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Kindle gets handwriting recognition from puzzle startup

Redmond startup Puzzazz added some pizzazz to its latest puzzle game for Amazon’s Kindle.

The company developed a handwriting recognition system that founder Roy Leban calls the first such system to appear on a Kindle.

Puzzazz’s “TouchWrite” technology debuted in “Sudoku Unbound Volume 3,” a $2.99 e-book the company began selling today. Instead of using a keyboard on the device, players write the numbers and the game recognizes them.

“This is the sort of technology that makes puzzle e-books and puzzles on digital devices more enjoyable,” Leban said.

Puzzazz collected thousands of handwriting samples and analyzed them as it developed the software.

It was tricky to develop the software for a device with limited computation power and memory, but Leban said the app is only about 800 kilobytes.

“The system is designed around those limitations,” he said.

So far it works just with touch-enabled versions of the Kindle, and not the Fire.

Leban wouldn’t talk about plans to license the software to others, although it’s clearly a possibility.

So is this the turning point for the 3-year-old, four-person startup?

“Maybe,” Leban said. “It is the most exciting product launch we’ve had.”

Here’s a video demo from the company:

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