5-Tiles, The Software Keyboard Targeting Wearables, Picks Up Nokia’s ‘Nav Key’ Inventor As Investor

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5-Tiles, another contender taking aim at disrupting the QWERTY with its five key software keyboard, which it hopes will find a home on wearable devices, has picked up ex-Nokia veteran Christian Lindholm as an investor and advisor.

Christian on chair smallFor those of you who aren’t old enough to remember, Lindholm previously spent 10 years at Finnish (then) mobile giant Nokia, where he headed up various user interface teams. This included being the inventor of the handset maker’s ‘Nav key’ UI, which, due to Nokia’s market dominance in mobile phones, was at one point the de facto way to navigate a mobile device, including aiding text input.

After leaving Nokia, he was Vice President Global Mobile Products at Yahoo, and then Chief Innovation Officer at Fjord before the company was acquired by Accenture. Lindholm’s latest venture is KoruLab, a wearables operating system startup based in Helsinki, which is where his involvement with 5-Tiles comes into focus.

The London startup’s software keyboard reduces the number of keys displayed to five — hence the 5-Tiles name — and switches the letter selection mechanism to a mixture of taps and gestures. Steep learning curve and many previous failed attempts at disrupting the QWERTY keyboard aside, its space-saving solution seems a better potential fit for wearables, such as smartwatches, than its current version for Android phones.

My understanding is Lindholm has invested a very modest £10,000 in 5-Tiles and joins as an advisor to the startup while it closes a larger SEIS seed round. The two parties met at the recent Wearable Technology Show where KoruLabs had a stand and 5-Tiles was pitching on-stage.

“He saw our presentation, spoke with [5-Tiles founder] Michal Kubacki and got very excited about the potential. His own startup is very well aligned with what we are doing — especially around the prototyping of new formats and form factors for wearables,” 5-Tiles’ Margaret Gold tells TechCrunch.

“5-Tiles is a bold idea, and is the most powerful one-handed touch keyboard I have seen. They have a great team of inventors and innovators and I can see they have the elements needed to succeed, including, the willingness to push forward, transform, simplify and perfect,” says Lindholm in a statement.