Experimenting with recognition and Silverlight


Remember the ole ActiveX-based inkable search tip I wrote awhile back which enabled you to search Google using handwritten queries?

Well, now it has a cousin: a Silverlight-based version. You can test it out now if you’re running Windows or a Mac with a Silverlight capable browser by clicking here.


Like its predecessor, you can ink what you want to search for in a panel and then have your handwriting recognized and the query sent off to Google. In this case however, Silverlight is used rather than requiring a user to download a custom ActiveX control (although you’ll need the Silverlight component of course 🙂 ). Much nicer in my book.

Also, the handwriting recognition is not done on the client side in this configuration–it’s all done on the server. So you don’t have to have a Tablet PC or Vista SKU to get it working. You can even use a Mac. The ink you write in the Silverlight panel is translated into an XML packet that is sent over to the server via an AJAX request, which in turn is processed by a web service which reconstructs the ink from the XML packet, recognizes the ink, and then sends the reco result back to the client. I’ll talk more about how this is done in another post. I’ll then walk through the code and how I had to configure the server and the like.

Note: this is just a test app I’m working on to experiment with ink reco and Silverlight. I may take it down or rearrange things later–in fact, you can rest assured that minimally the structure of the page is sure to change. I thought people might enjoy trying it out in the meantime.

Oh, a couple tips in case you try out the Silverlight SearchTIP. When you hand write something in the inkable panel you can use a mouse or a stylus. The best looking ink is achievable on a Tablet PC though. Once you write something, a recognized version of it will appear at the bottom-left of the ink panel. In addition, a gray circle with an “x” in it will appear to the right of the ink, which you can click on to erase the ink, if needed. If you’re using a stylus to write and the pen has an eraser tip, you can use it to erase the ink too. You can also you a strikeout gesture to erase ink, which consists of a single ink stroke from right to left drawn over the ink to delete. This gesture is useful for striking out a single word. Once you have your query all constructed, tap or click on the word “Search” located at the bottom-right of the ink panel. Your search results will appear in an iframe below the ink panel. That’s about it….for now. Have fun.