Ron B Yeh

Application Ideas

by Ron Yeh, Eric Su, and Avi Robinson-Mosher

Mapping Applications for Drivers, Hikers, etc. .

Maps are a natural domain for paper-centric applications. Here, we describe an application that allows a person to compute distances/times, and leverage the unique information implicit in a paper map, such as the Geographic Location (latitude, longitude, elevation).

Users will first place their digital pens over a printed button, which will allow an accompanying cell phone to determine the specially printed map’s unique scale. The user will then trace a desired route on the map. The stream of (x,y) coordinates will be used to compute the distance of the pen mark. This information will then be scaled to give a realistic approximation of the actual distance along the route. The output will then be displayed on a cell phone screen. This application would be especially useful for hikers, who can use the application to plan checkpoints, foresee obstacles, and plan better hiking adventures. If the computed distance is enhanced with local traffic information, such as speed limits and traffic lights, the application can also compute driving times. This would enable drivers to make spontaneous driving decisions (would Exit 38 or 40 help me get to White Castle faster?) without accessing a PC to consult Mapquest. Another similar application would be a paper GPS system. A user places marks on the start and destination points of a paper roadmap, and the cell phone outputs the fastest route. This technology falls in the category of a map application.

Early Video Mockup: mov

Enhancing Citations and Essay Planning .

In this application, books and academic journals will be printed on digital paper. Two paper buttons will be printed at the front of each book/paper, one button labeled MLA and the other APA. Users will place their digital pens over the citation style they wish to use, which in turn will retrieve basic citation information, such as author, title, date of publication, etc. As they read through the work, users can underline text they wish to quote. When the digital pen is docked, an application will retrieve all the underlined text and its accompanying citation information and organize them in a library. Users can then easily view, insert, and cite quotes in their essays, and instantly create a works cited page. This application is similar to EndNote in that it helps publish and manage bibliographies, but it is better because it allows users to treat paper documents as digital documents (underlining text in the paper source is analogous to features like Copy & Paste). This technology falls in the category of a document application.

Early Video Mockup: mov

An Assessment Tool for Teachers .

This application utilizes the digital pen’s time-stamp feature. Teachers will assign tests or homework that are to be completed with the digital pens. When the assignment is turned in, the teacher can dock the pens and look at the time-stamps to trace where the students run into difficulties. For example, a student’s pen marks indicate that they spend much more time working on the geometry problem as opposed to the algebra problem. The teacher might then be able to determine that the student needs help with geometry. Such an application could also generate important statistics that might break down the total time it takes the class to do certain geometry, algebra, or calculus problems. This technology falls in the category of managerial applications, where digital pens and paper can supply information to the manager of the user.

A Flipbook Application for Animators .

This tool is designed for amateur animators and functions similar to old-school flipbooks. Users will draw, for example, a stick figure using the digital pen and paper. Users will then press their pens over a paper button to indicate that the frame is complete. There are several approaches to indicate a movement in the depiction. The frame can be entirely redrawn on another sheet with a slight detail modified. Another approach is to simply draw the changes over the existing drawing and indicate movement with gestures. The user can indicate the movement of a limb, for example, with a physically drawn arrow. The arrow is recognized by the software and removed from the frame when compiled, but the arrow still allows the software to identify what needs to be removed (the original leg) and what needs to be replaced (the raised leg). Another approach is to allow the software to determine, based on location or similarity in shape of the changes in each frame, what is being moved. The application will then organize all the frames and “flip” through them to produce a low scale animation. This technology falls in the category of novice applications, as it is designed for novice users and educational purposes.

Early Flash Mockup: swf

A Play Simulation Application for Sports Teams .

Coaches often like to draft out plays on paper. This tool would allow for plays drawn on digital paper to be simulated on a computer. For example, a football coach draws out the offensive and defensive line with X’s and O’s on digital paper. Using arrows, the coach demonstrates where and how every player is supposed to move. The software recognizes the arrows as gestures and examines their timestamps, and then simulates the movement of the offense and defense accordingly. Such simulations would help players better comprehend the timing and strategy of the plays. This application could also help in stage directing, where a director could use the application to simulate and communicate the movements of actors and actresses. This technology falls in the category of communication applications.

Early Flash Mockup: swf

A Thumbprint Application for Petitions and Credit Cards .

Digital pens contain unique identifiers that could help communicate important personal information. In essence, your digital pen could be your thumbprint. It could be singular and could possess your identity. This might have numerous applications. For example, if a user signs a petition with his digital pen, the organizer of the petition could retrieve the signer’s address or home phone, and then send the signer important pamphlets and mail. The digital pen could also bolster identity protection. When a user pays a meal with his credit card, the user is required to sign with his digital pen. The personal information communicated by the pen would verify that the credit card is not stolen. This technology falls in the category of managerial applications.

A Paper-Based CAD for Product Designers .

This application will assist product designers. The user will draw multi-view sketches of an imagined product on a digital paper template, or trace different views of an existing product. Once the digital pen is docked, the software will assemble the multiviews to create a 3-D view of the product, which can be manipulated with materials and colors and re-dimensioned to help the designer visualize his ideas. This technology falls in the category of product design applications.

Early Flash Mockup: swf

Prototyping for future interactive advertisements .

Future advertisements may become more interactive, enhanced with features like touch screens or styluses for annotations. Digital pens and papers could serve as prototyping tools for these interactive advertisements. The actual advertisement could be replaced with printed digital paper, with paper buttons representing their touch-screen button counterparts. The ink laid by the digital pen could represent the stylus annotations on the advertisements. The software will simulate the interactive advertisement. When a paper button is pressed, the software will display the corresponding result. When a message is written on the paper, the software will display the annotation. This technology falls in the category of product design applications.

Paper Enhanced Short Messaging Systems .

Current short messaging systems are difficult to use and have limited capabilities. Typing is often clumsy and drawing is nearly impossible. In this application, the user writes his messages and draws pictures that he wants to send on a piece of digital paper. The user will then touch a paper button with his digital pen to send the message. The user’s pen input will be converted into a message on a cell phone. The dialogue of a SMS conversation will be visible through the screen of the cell phone, but the input will be through digital pen and paper. This technology falls in the category of communication applications.

Early Flash Mockup: swf

Origami Recorder & Diagramming .

A user folds up a piece of digital paper into a desired origami shape. The user then begins undoing the figure one fold at a time. Every time a fold is undone, the user uses the digital pen to trace along the fold. When the shape is entirely undone, the software can display a diagram of the paper annotated with the figure’s folds. The software can then show the steps necessary to replicate the origami figure. This technology falls in the category of novice applications.

An Application to Support Newsletter Mash-ups .

A user draws the layout of a desired newsletter on digital paper. The software application captures the drawn layout. The user then searches the Internet for a desired RSS feed. The user clicks a button on the software that adds the RSS feed to a section of the newsletter, which the user points out by tracing the section’s corners on paper. The user can then print and distribute the newsletter, or distribute software that allows users to receive daily feeds and updated prints of the newsletter. This technology falls in the category of document applications.

TODO List .

A user writes his TODO list on a piece of digital paper. The user then presses a button on the software that tells the computer to capture the list. The user defines the region to be captured by tracing the corners of the corresponding area. The ink is captured, and the user can tell the software where he wants the captured TODO list to be sent (i.e. email to another individual, a wiki site, flickr, etc.) This application falls in the category of communication applications.

Map + SimCity .

Using a printed SimCity map, users can create roads, buildings, parks, etc. by drawing directly on the map with predefined symbols. The features drawn on the map will be captured and created on SimCity. In a similar application, biologists plan out the locations of experiments by marking off spots on a printed map. The software will then take data from to give important climate details for the different experimental environments. Both of these applications function by hooking up with external, existing applications. This technology falls in the category of map applications.

Collaborative Drawing .

Scenario: A group of artists want to create a detailed graphic but have limited time and resources. The artists must therefore “divide and conquer” by breaking the drawing into parts, and then later assembling the parts together. First, every artist draws his/her piece of the work onto digital paper. The drawings are captured and then projected onto a screen, whereby a user assembles them together like a puzzle. The whole piece will then be printed out on a large digital paper. Each artist will have an opportunity to draw on this paper with a digital pen to edit the final piece, and the changes will be projected in real-time. The final product will then be saved, printed, and distributed. This technology falls in the category of communication applications.

Early Flash Mockup: swf

Automated Letter Writing .

Category: Letters and Documents

Sometimes, you may be faced with the task of writing letters *by hand*. There have been some prior attempts at automating this process (see Dan Morris's Project Page and his source).

The Automated Letter Writing application would utilize a “handwriting by demonstration” method to reduce the tediousness of the letter writing task. Users write out the alphabet (or paragraphs of sample text) several times on digital paper. The user can then type up any desired letter or document. Upon printing, the application will randomly generate letters that look as if they were handwritten. It works by replacing the typed letter with its corresponding handwritten version. The document will printed in the user’s unique handwriting style.

Early Flash Mockup: swf

Book Collaboration .

This application creates a Wiki for book commenting. Users can highlight, comment, or link any part of a text with his digital pen. Using Wendy Mackay’s a-book “interaction lens”, users can then place a PDA or cellphone over the text and see how other people have annotated the same section. This application falls in the category of communication applications.

Early Flash Mockup: swf

Flickr Library of Biological Data

A biologist writes all of her notes and data onto notepads and datasheets (that are enabled w/ Anoto pattern). These notes are automatically saved to ButterflyNet. However, if the biologist chooses, she can check a box on the page that automatically uploads the notes, datasheets, and map annotations to Flickr. She can also tag notes and data sheets with key words before the uploading. These tags are handwriting recognized, and translated into textual flickr tags.

Categories: Documents, Sharing.

Expressive "Love Letter"

This application is inspired by Fuzzmail, created by Hayes Raffle and Dan Maynes-Aminzade to provide “a more emotionally expressive alternative to email” by “incorporating dramatic timing and rhythm into the content of the written message.”

The idea is that a user can send a letter to someone else by writing his letter on a sheet of paper. This letter is captured by his desktop computer, which presents him with a dialog box. He enters the destination email address, and clicks send. The recipient gets an animated Flash animation of the letter writing (sped up a bit, but with the more-or-less faithful rhythm of the writing).

As the user writes the love letter on digital paper, the software captures and examines the speed, tempo, and pressure of the user’s handwriting. It may enhance the letter with corresponding emotional visualizations, music, videos, etc.

This application falls in the category of communication applications.