Dan Gillmor writes about some of the ongoing research areas in handhelds (as an outcome of a recent conference he attended):
Keeping track of schedules is a primary task for many users of handhelds. A team of researchers from the University of Maryland and Microsoft have teamed up on “DateLens” — a calendar-on-steroids for the Pocket PC. The software gives an overview of a schedule but lets the user zoom in on events in intelligent ways, such as highlighting competing events. Making the handheld screen larger in a virtual way has obvious practicality in many areas. Ka-Ping Yee, from the University of California-Berkeley, was showing his “peephole” display on a Palm device. Imagine that a handheld is a small window hovering over a larger screen. Move the handheld and you see other areas of the big screen. The profusion of remote controls bedevils everyone with modern video and audio systems, and universal remotes have come into the market to address the problem. Taking that notion a step further is a team from Carnegie Mellon University and Maya Design, both located in Pittsburgh, which is experimenting with “personal universal controllers”. Writing on the handheld is a slow process, typically accomplished character by character with a stylus or by using thumbs on a mini-keyboard. Shumin Zhai, from IBM’s Almaden research lab in San Jose, and Per-Ola Kristensson, from Linkping University in Sweden, have developed a way to write words via a few, linked strokes of a stylus.