Product Research and Development
Mark Illing currently supports Continuous Path finding novel ways to apply mainstream technology to assistive technology challenges. We are currently focused on improving keyboards for people with mobility impairments.
In 1981, after earning a BS in Computer Science from the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois, he joined Boeing in researching methods of reducing the cost of real-time computer graphics. This work led to his first start-up, Delta Graphics, and work on the SIMNET Program with DARPA. This program produced ground breaking advancements in virtual and augmented reality, and global multi-player interactive simulations.
In 1997, Mark switched gears and joined Cliff Kushler and Martin King at Tegic, developing the T9 mobile phone text input technology installed on over 7 billion devices. This work involved developing word level disambiguation to support text entry in a constrained environment. Following the AOL acquisition of Tegic in 2000 and a short sabbatical, he rejoined Cliff at Swype. There, they developed a very popular continuous input technology for text, conceived to facilitate computer access for individuals with severe motor impairments, and widely distributed on Android, Windows and other smart phones and devices.
Mark served as SVP of Engineering for Swype until it was acquired by Nuance Communications in 2011, where he served as Senior Director of Technology Innovation.
Cliff Kushler currently serves on the Board of Directors for a number of foundations and non-profit organizations. In 1987, upon his return from earning a Ph.D. at the University of Tokyo, he joined Prentke Romich Co. to serve as Director of Research in the design and development of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices, which provide comprehensive communication support for individuals with motor impairments that prevent them from speaking intelligibly, effectively using a standard keyboard, or using sign language.
This work led to the co-invention of the T9 text input technology in 1995 with his partners Martin King and Dale Grover (later joined by Mark Illing), which was ultimately licensed and installed on over 7 billion phones. Following the acquisition of Tegic by America Online in 1999, he left near the end of 2000 to pursue his own interests. In 2002, he partnered with Randy Marsden and, again building on work to facilitate computer access for individuals with severe motor impairments, and again joined by Mark Illing, began the development of the patented “Swype” continuous path-tracing text input technology now broadly licensed on Android and other smart-phone platforms.
Cliff served as the CTO of Swype Inc. up until it was acquired by Nuance Communications in 2011, where he served as VP of Technology Innovation up until his retirement in 2015. He has been awarded over 75 US patents, as well as numerous corresponding internationally filed patents. He is also a minister and light-bearer at Ananda Village.