ATOK, which stands for “Advanced Technology Of Kana-Kanji transfer,” is a Japanese input system developed for writing text in Japanese. The basis of a Japanese input system is the process of phonetic input in romaji (Romanized Japanese scripts) or kana (syllabic Japanese scripts), and converting the phonetics into kanji (Chinese characters used in Japanese).
In Western languages, characters entered from a keyboard form words themselves, and the thoughts of the typist are conveyed directly. With Japanese, however, an additional “conversion” step where the entered phonetics are converted into kanji, katakana or other characters is required. As this conversion process distracts the typist from their thoughts, it was thought to be difficult to convey the thoughts of a person directly when typing Japanese with a PC.
JustSystems has pursued research and development into (Japanese language) natural language processing that “avoids hindering a person’s thoughts,” ensuring that within the series of tasks a person performs to think and express themselves, they are not hampered by cumbersome operations or sense the annoyance of using a machine.
This effort culminated in the creation of ATOK. Since the first iteration of ATOK in 1985, it has continually evolved in step with JustSystems’ commitment to developing more comfortable Japanese input systems.

The High Frequency of Conversions from Kana to Kanji
Drove the Need for a “Natural” System

Allocating the space bar to the operation of converting text entered into a PC to kanji was our doing here at JustSystems. There is a reason we made the space key available for this task while the program was active, even though Japanese keyboards have a henkan (“convert”) key. Traditionally, the space bar is for inserting spaces between words while typing English. We came across the realization that when entering Japanese, it was perhaps more natural to use this space bar to convert text into kanji a phrase at a time, and would more closely align with Japanese sensibilities.

Evolving ATOK by Embedding Schemes.
Bring Customer Issues In-house to Develop Solutions

“Corrective learning” which learns patterns of input mistakes and instantly gives correct conversion candidates, and continues to carry on various “mechanisms” such as addition of correcting confusion of humbling word and respected word to proofreading support function Japanese input system “ATOK” that I did. Now that e-mails and the Internet have become widespread, such as buzzwords and current affairs terms added, dialing and spoken words can be converted into the correct Kana kanji with a single shot while improving the conversion precision, personal needs of “obvious” We have responded to you as soon as possible. Also, Justsystem’s strength is that sales representatives who noticed problems with customers’ issues or solutions that are “language professionals” such as newspaper publishers, publishers, etc. bring their voices to the company and apply them to product development. We are steadily responding to customer’s voice, such as automating ATOK’s internal dictionary distribution and developing grammar proofing support tools.

Making Smartphone Operation Smart with Touch-based Text Input

The Japanese processing technologies built in to ATOK, which was developed for inputting Japanese on a PC, has been embedded in over 400 types of device from mobile phones to car navigation systems and gaming consoles. Among these devices, one of the more challenging iterations is smartphones, as text is entered through touch operations. Customization support differs by model, and each person experiences touch operations differently because of their unique fingers and habits. Our development engineers and the ATOK dictionary team racked their brains over the myriad difficulties and challenges in striking the right balance between conflicting factors. They wanted to keep what makes ATOK smart the same, not compromise on the conversion efficiency, but also avoid slowing down processing speed. Similarly, when releasing versions of ATOK that run on Android or iOS, we gather feedback from each customer and carry out meticulous tuning on each system. The joy of providing everyone with the convenience of ATOK anytime and anywhere is a feeling we hold close to heart as we strive to provide an experience optimized for each person. In this way, even today ATOK continues to evolve behind the scenes.

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