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Follow Friday: #FF with @Fleksy

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Good morning to my favorite day of the week—Friday! Is it yours, too? Give yourself a big pat on the back for all of the hard work you’ve done this week.

Fridays also mean it’s time, once again, for another top-notch Follow Friday pick, brought to you by Fedora’s, Delivering Access blog. This week, we’re featuring someone that keeps us typing happy every single day. Do you know who it is?

Today we’re featuring our friends, @Fleksy. The developers at Syntellia have reinvented the way the blind and visually impaired touch type using a touchscreen device. By developing a revolutionary and innovative app that interprets patterns as users input text, Fleksy eliminates the barriers many blind and low vision individuals face when using an on-screen keyboard.

Our amazement with their app, along with our admiration for their brilliance and out-of-the-box problem solving, are only a few of the reasons we’re following the team behind Fleksy—and we think you should follow @Fleksy on Twitter, too!

This week, I had the opportunity to talk with the developers with Syntellia regarding the Fleksy app, and I learned so much about their vision, process and approach. Take a minute or two to see what they had to say, and go behind the scenes of an app that’s truly inspiring so many to type happy.

Q: For individuals who may be new to iOs, or who may not know about Fleksy, could you please tell us a little about the app and what users can expect from it?

A: Fleksy is a revolutionary technology, which makes typing text on a touch-screen easy. The app uses an on-screen software QWERTY keyboard. It features an autocorrect engine so powerful, that it allows users to miss every single key, or even the keyboard completely, and still figure out what they meant to type. Accompanied with a set of easy to learn but powerful gestures, users can enter, format and send text easily and fast.

Fleksy has been available on iOS for almost a year now, and with the help and support of the amazing community of our users, it has grown to a reliable tool with each update.

Being fully accessible, Fleksy works in conjunction with Voice Over and allows users, blind, visually impaired or sighted, to type on average upwards of 45 words per minute, with many speed typist reaching speeds over 100 wpm. A text entered with Fleksy can be emailed, texted, shared on Facebook or Twitter or copied to the clipboard to be pasted into any other app. We also feature advanced functionality that speeds up conversation between favorite contacts and Fleksy users.

Q: Why is the app named Fleksy?

A: There are two parts in regards to how the name Fleksy came about. The First part is: When using Fleksy, accuracy is not needed, users can tap where they think each letter is, and Fleksy will adapt to match that entry. It is a flexible keyboard! The second part is the last 4 letters of Fleksy comprise the Greek word “Leksy”, which translates to “word”. With our founders being Greek, the concept was too powerful to ignore

Q: Who are the developers behind Fleksy?

A: Fleksy is developed by Syntellia, a company founded in 2011. Our founder, Kostas Eleftheriou has been active on the iOS App Store since its opening in 2008, finding success in the entertainment category. His app, iSteam, reached top ten charts worldwide.
Syntellia, cofounded by Kostas and Ioannis Verdelis, is a new team, comprised by people who share the vision of better, more natural typing in the devices we use every day; Our team has experience in building advanced systems with sophisticated algorithms while all of us have a strong sense in user experience design. We are all passionate about providing a solution to typing frustrations with Fleksy.

Q: Was the original target audience the blind/visually impaired or was Fleksy developed for an all-inclusive market?

A: When founders Kostas and Ioannis first started working on the code that would eventually power Fleksy, an agnostic algorithm capable of understanding meaning behind user input, they found a great application in typing. Motivated by their own typing frustrations, they started working on a technology that would improve, or rather, change the convention of typing in modern devices. Their goal was to create a tool as reliable as a desktop keyboard, but for the modern smartphone.

During the development of Fleksy, several questions were asked by our team, including the following: What if you could type on a touchscreen, without looking at the screen? The answer to this question would become the main goal of Fleksy’s creation.
With this newly set goal in mind, Kostas attended CSUN 2012 where it became obvious that our first target audience should be blind and visually impaired users. Receiving incredible feedback and support from our users has helped Fleksy propel itself into the mainstream market, bringing us a little closer to the original plan: Develop the best keyboard for everyone.

Q: How does Fleksy differ from the on-screen keyboard available on iOS devices?

A: Although other, traditional auto-correct systems, including the stock iOS on-screen keyboard, have evolved to allow the user to be slightly inaccurate at times, the premise has been that a user has to try and hit a button for each letter of a word.
The model has been broken ever since QWERTY keyboards were introduced to portable devices, driving the size of a button to be smaller than the size of a finger. It became even more broken when touch-screens removed the benefit of tactile feedback.
Fleksy analyzes a wealth of data of a user’s typing and can detect the correct word to input even when someone misses every single key on the keyboard. In fact, the system is powerful enough to be useful even when the user is not typing within the keyboard area at all.
It’s an experience unlike anything you’ve seen before. Its tap typing re-invented.

Q: What is Fleksy’s accuracy rate?

A: In our tests, Fleksy is more accurate than the stock iOS autocorrect in all cases, but grows significantly more accurate as typing speed increases.

Q: Is Fleksy able to work with other applications and if so, which ones?

A: Fleksy is currently able to send text to the Messaging and Mail apps, as well as post directly on Facebook or Twitter. We are currently working with other app developers to integrate our Fleksy keyboard into their apps.

Q: Who does Fleksy follow and why is it important to use Twitter as part of its social networking platform?

A: @Fleksy follows industry leaders, influential tech and accessibility evangelists as well as many of our trusted beta testers. We have learned so much, and improved Fleksy because of it, simply by interacting with Twitter. Social networking as a whole is a very important tool for us. We are constantly receiving feedback, which allows us to refine Fleksy right away, while we are also able to get in touch with each user on a personal level. We can share our achievements, which are achievements of the community, really, announce new updates, discuss potential ideas and most importantly, meet Fleksy’s most loyal users. We read about how Fleksy becomes part of a user’s daily life in so many unexpected ways, how it has become a necessity and some times, how it failed someone horribly. We learn and improve from every piece of feedback, so keep it coming!

It was such a pleasure to talk with the folks at Syntellia, and we (along with so many others) are grateful for their contribution to this community. Make sure to follow @@Fleksy on Twitter, find Fleksy app on Facebook or visit Fleksy on the web to discover even more about this truly remarkable app.

Don’t forget to join us each and every week for the Follow Friday series, where you can discover interesting and knowledgeable brands, organizations and individuals who are changing lives for the better. And, if you are not already following @Fedora_Outlier on Twitter, then what in the world are you waiting for?!?