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A Practical LCD Writing Tablet 171

Posted by kdawson
from the write-on dept.
An anonymous reader passes along a word about an innovative LCD writing tablet. The Boogie Board costs $30, can be written on with a stylus or a fingernail, and uses no power in the act of writing. Only erasing consumes power — from a watch battery, which lasts for 50,000 erases. The total cost per "page" comes out to only 1/15th that of steno paper. The writing surface is pressure-sensitive and "highly responsive to variable amounts of pressure," so you can make thick and thin lines.
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A Practical LCD Writing Tablet

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  • Damn, My class mate and I had this kinda of an idea for a final year project, time to rethink.
    • by WED Fan (911325)
      O.K., I RTFA and I RTFPR and so far, there's no way to connect and dump this to your PC? Maybe I missed it. But, this is an expensive scratch pad. With no storage, it doesn't even have the benefits of the group of steno pads I have in my drawer with notes from phone calls, impromptu meetings, and ideas that flash past while working on code.
      • by SEWilco (27983)
        It looks like this also has no protection. Stuff it in a backpack or let it rattle around in a briefcase and you'll find scribbles added to your notes.
        • by WED Fan (911325)
          This is an expensive, almost useless toy. Maybe the kids can use it on a long drive, but I bet they get bored with it really fast.
          • by SnapShot (171582)

            Expensive? It's only $30. An etch-a-scetch is nearly $20 [world-of-toys.com].

            Sure, it's not a mythical, magic tablet from Apple but I bet people could find a few uses for it and it's a hell of a lot cheaper...

      • Update: After talking to an Improv Electronics representative, we’ve confirmed that they are indeed working on a recordable Boogie Board tablet that would utilize flash memory and a USB connection to save and download your work. It would be the size and model, just with added storage and USB connection. They anticipate having this new version available for sale within the year but will still sell the current base version. Price on this new recordable model would be around $50. Read more: http://bestt [besttabletreview.com]
        • Update: After talking to an Improv Electronics representative, we’ve confirmed that they are indeed working on a recordable Boogie Board tablet that would utilize flash memory and a USB connection to save and download your work. It would be the size and model, just with added storage and USB connection. They anticipate having this new version available for sale within the year but will still sell the current base version. Price on this new recordable model would be around $50. Read more: http://besttabletreview.com/the-boogie-board-paperless-lcd-writing-tablet-very-cool-and-only-30/#ixzz0dYELgHng [besttabletreview.com]

          AWESOME! I've been waiting for something like this in a portable version ever since I was blown away by a chalkboard sized version in a conference room at Cornell a few years back. That one was in color (!) with different light pens for each color and the ability to save the entire board to a connected computer. I'm hardly ever a first-adopter (they call me Mr. SP2 *cough*) but this thing I'll buy as soon as it gets storage and/or a PC connection.

          Thanks for the info :)

  • demo please? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:25AM (#30875564) Homepage Journal

    I'd like to see a youtube of a boogie board in use.

    • Re:demo please? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tjp($)pjT (266360) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:17AM (#30875942)
      Sounds like a wax coated cardboard sheet with a plastic overlay. A kids toy. I want to see a demo too. I can just imagine a waxed cardboard toy pad with a motor driven lifter for the erase ... LOL
      • by SEWilco (27983)
        And it has digital output... through the scanner on my all-in-one printer.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ozmanjusri (601766)
        I can just imagine a waxed cardboard toy pad with a motor driven lifter for the erase .

        Why not just shake it [etch-a-sketch.com]?

        It's close to being price-competitive with the old classic too. Once the immediate geek fuss fades, I'd say that's where its niche will be found.

        • Re:demo please? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @04:06AM (#30876682) Journal

          I actually didn't know there was such you controlled with two knobs too. Sounds a bit hard and limiting. Magna Doodle [wikipedia.org] is probably a little bit closer with its pen and free drawing.

          The Etch A Sketch toy was invented in the late 1950s by a man by the name of Arthur Granjean invented something he called ``L'Ecran Magique", the magic screen, in his garage. The inside surface of the glass screen is coated with aluminum powder which is then scraped off by a movable stylus, leaving a dark line on the light gray screen.

          and Magna Doodle

          The key element of the Magna Doodle is the magnetophoretic display panel, filled with a thick, opaque white liquid containing tiny dark magnetic particles. These particles can be drawn to the surface by the stylus or the shapes, or to the hidden back side by a sliding eraser bar. The middle layer is divided into a honeycomb of cells, keeping the liquid static and the particles evenly distributed across the panel. The liquid is formulated so that the particles can be pulled through it in response to the magnetic forces, but not due to gravity.

          Interesting concept though. I always wanted to know how it worked :)

      • by foobsr (693224)
        I can just imagine a waxed cardboard toy pad with a motor driven lifter for the erase ... LOL

        Strangely reminds me of the first time I encountered a motor driven (!!, OMG) pepper mill which (of course) was a present imported from the land of Alices Restaurant, then just beginning to loose its appeal as a Wonderland over here.

        CC.
    • Here is a young slashdotter using a widely available version of this device to analyze planetary motion and black holes:
      Video Link 1 [youtube.com]

      Here is another one using it to visually depict string theory:
      Video Link 2 [youtube.com]
  • Looks great, and the price seems awesome. Is it too good to be true?

    • Re:Looks Great! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Gerzel (240421) * <(moc.liamg) (ta) (terrefyllorb)> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:45AM (#30876092) Journal

      No way to upload to a computer, no computer assistance, and $30?

      I can give you a device that does the same for a tenth of the amount and the added convienence that it can easilly be digitized using common computer technology.

      I call it a pencil and paper pad.

      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Yes, but at $30 it's cheaper than paper... if you about a hundred sheets of paper a day.

        • by Gerzel (240421) *

          Yes but the 100's of sheets stick around once you're done with them. Thus they have a 'save' function that the tablet lacks.

          • by g253 (855070)
            And what if you don't need or want them to stick around? I need to take notes for my daily work, and I never have to keep them. I throw paper away every single day. How about when you quickly write something down on a piece of paper during a meeting, only to transcribe it later on the computer?
      • Re:Looks Great! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @05:00AM (#30876866) Journal

        Or for just $9 more [newegg.com] you can have a tablet input. I gave one of these to my youngest and he just loves it. Good luck on ever getting that kid to go back to working with just pen and paper or a keyboard and mouse. It is surprisingly accurate and sensitive, allowing him to not only write fluently, but to draw freehand and make some truly sharp artwork. me? I am lucky if I can draw a straight line.

        But I just don't see the point of spending $30 on this with no PC input, when for $9 more you can have a tablet input. I'm sure the level of sensitivity on the tablet probably kills this thing, and unlike this it doesn't "die" after x number of erases.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Aladrin (926209)

          You mean $9+the-cost-of-a-computer more. The boogie thing is completely self-contained. Plus, you can see what you're drawing -where- you're drawing. With a cheap digitizer for the computer, you have to watch the computer's screen and draw somewhere else. Yes, people do it all the time, but there's a reason people are willing to spend thousands on a Cintiq instead of pay 1/10th as much for just a regular digitizer.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by hairyfeet (841228)

            Well for starters, just about everyone here in the USA already has a PC so that isn't a problem. Thanks to PCs passing "good enough" awhile back PCs for under $100 are quite plentiful.

            As for the second? If I was a tablet manufacturer I would simply get one of these and copy its tech into one of my tablets and add $30 to the price. With them selling at $30 I doubt they have sunk huge amounts of R&D, more likely they simply came up with a "recipe" using already available tech, and considering how much m

      • by beelsebob (529313)

        Ugh, RTFA, yes your paper and pencil pad can be scanned. No it doesn't cost 1/10th of the price, it costs 5 times the price to get the same number of "sheets" out of it.

    • by xeoron (639412)
      Yes, because even though the company is based in the US, then are only shipping internationally; of course they do not tell you that until you try and pay for one.
  • by EdZ (755139) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:28AM (#30875588)
    There's no way to save whatever you've drawn onto the tablet, so it's the LCD equivalent of carrying around a small blackboard and an infinite supply of chalk. Or a whiteboard with an infinite supply of ink (of only one colour). At only $30, it's reasonably priced enough that it can cater to the niche of "I want to jot down a small note that I can hardcopy later for posterity, but I don't ever want to need to worry about my pen running out of ink, as long as I remember to change the battery occasionally".
    • by EdZ (755139) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:36AM (#30875650)
      ...And while that would be enough for me to buy one (it would save reams of paper of irritating matrix algebra), their shipping cost to the UK is almost twice the cost of the device itself!
    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:36AM (#30875652)

      The thing would be awesome if I could save the screen. As it is I don't really see why I would choose it over paper since I can't save paper either, but at least paper I could store for later and write on more paper.

      But it IS pretty cool.

      • by tomhudson (43916)

        The thing would be awesome if I could save the screen.

        You can. It's called a camera. Same as taking a picture of a whiteboard or blackboard.

        1. Draw sketch
        2. Take pic
        3. Annotate pic w your fav. software

        At $30, it's cheaper than almost anything except a free digitizer.

        • How about a network connected scanner? Its a bit inefficient if the only option from there is PDF, but if you could OCR it and partly automate the process it might work for notes to carry around.

        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:07AM (#30875876) Homepage
          You could probably just stick it in a Xerox machine (er, I mean copier). Interesting to note that they are out of stock at Amazon. We've Slashdotted a physical object!!!!

          Gaze in fear, World!
        • by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:15AM (#30875928)

          You can. It's called a camera. Same as taking a picture of a whiteboard or blackboard.

          Or a piece of paper!

          It still gives me NO reason to use this device over something that needs no battery, and serves as archival hard copy of my idea.

          Without the extra step of the camera, an electronic notepad would be very useful indeed to quickly produce pages of material that then got sent elsewhere. But needing that extra step just kills it from being more useful than paper.

          • I was thinking this myself, but finally came to a conclusion in favor of the boogie board. When doing circuits homework, I often have to shift circuits around so I get something pleasing to look at or manipulate equations, which can sometimes be trial and error. Now it looks like instead of blowing paper on trial and error, I could do it on there and later transfer the final version to my homework. That being said, I'm finding it a little hard to justify $30 for it, since this is the only use I can think of

            • It is pretty hard to justify when here is the UK you can get 7600 sheets of cheap paper for £19 ~ $30. Biro's cost pennies as well.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Since it's ink/lead-less, it could be useful for cleanrooms where special non-shedding paper and pens are necessary.

            As the site notes, it's useful in many of the same instances where small marker/chalkboards works - sports sidelines, shopping lists, fridge reminders - but doesn't require a pen or marker, much less dry-erase ink or chalk, which is also a benefit for people sensitive or allergic to marker/chalk dust.

            The ability to write with a finger can help people with wrist/hand disabilities who can't easi

      • by tchdab1 (164848)

        drop it on a copier later to save your image.

      • by oGMo (379) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:06AM (#30875868)

        Yeah, I would easily pay $100 if I could save things to a memory card and recall pages from thumbnails. Double that or more if it did some basic diagram aid (draw a rough rectangle, have it neatened). I've been searching for the ideal "electronic graph paper" and I have yet to find anything. It doesn't need to play movies or browse the web or send email... ok, it could have basic wifi and be able to email diagrams... but still. A few functions for drawing and writing and diagramming, some storage and searching, and that's all it needs.

        That said this looks like this product probably can't even address pixels. It's probably lucky to just get enough current to the whole panel so that it clears. I doubt that requires even half the electronics of a 4-function calculator, but then I'm not an EE.

        • Totally agree (Score:4, Informative)

          by SuperKendall (25149) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:20AM (#30875960)

          I've been searching for the ideal "electronic graph paper" and I have yet to find anything.

          That's all I want too! I don't need it to play music or videos or browse the web, or even receive anything for that matter. Just let me use it as an off-line digitizing pad and I'll be happy.

          The diagram neatening would be interesting but I could skip anything except recording where I pressed, preferably with some degree of pressure sensitivity as this offers.

          That said this looks like this product probably can't even address pixels.

          I wondered about that too, but there's got to be something that happens when you press that causes the state change, if it would even store that raw input and have software to assemble it back into an image later that would be fine by me.

          • by mystik (38627)

            I did a internship @ A.T. Cross (high-end pens/gifts), when they were dabbling with 'modernizing' the company and introducing digital products. (that are all now discontinued)

            They made a device that would let you write on a paper pad, but @ the same time capture (in Vector format no less) your pen strokes, and then download them to a PC.

            http://www.amazon.com/Cross-CrossPad-CP41001-01-Portable-Digital/dp/B00000K1R3 [amazon.com]

            As a result, I got to play with a few of those, and used one in college. The software had OCR

          • by caywen (942955)

            If I could also play MP3's and view PDF's on it, that'd be all I want! I don't need to download apps for it or give me Google Maps or anything. Just let me use it as a basic media device. ...

            If I could also download apps and view Google Maps on it, I'd be perfectly happy. I don't need to show HD video or have 3D acceleration for games or anything. Just let me use it as a basic computer. ...

            guess what goes here

          • by Kazymyr (190114)

            It is totally doable, even as a DYI project, at a cost below $100 (including the cost of the tablet). All you need is a digitizer to stick on top or better yet below the LCD, a microcontroller to grab the digitizer output and a SD card slot for saving the page as bitmap. There are large digitizers available in the sub-$50 range (individual retail price, likely a lot cheaper in bulk), a MSP430 microcontroller is a few bucks (or you can get free samples from TI), a PCB you can do yourself with an inkjet print

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Yeah, I would easily pay $100 if I could save things to a memory card and recall pages from thumbnails. Double that or more if it did some basic diagram aid (draw a rough rectangle, have it neatened). I've been searching for the ideal "electronic graph paper" and I have yet to find anything. It doesn't need to play movies or browse the web or send email... ok, it could have basic wifi and be able to email diagrams... but still. A few functions for drawing and writing and diagramming, some storage and search

      • I save paper all the time. It's called a notebook, or a folder... Plus I can run the paper through my scanner if I really want to. This is a product in search or a purpose, and not likely to find it...
    • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:40AM (#30875680) Journal

      "I want to jot down a small note that I can hardcopy later for posterity, but I don't ever want to need to worry about my pen running out of ink, as long as I remember to change the battery occasionally"

      Indeed, that seems to be all it is really good for -- other than the geek factor of writing with passive liquid crystals.

      I solved the "I don't want to run out of ink" problem by buying a Fisher Bullet Space Pen. The ink cartridges are said to last a very long time and never run dry from disuse. So, for the meager amount of writing that I do, this pen will probably be able to stay in my change pocket for many years before it needs the cartridge replaced. And it was $10 cheaper than this "practical" LCD tablet.

    • by Mal-2 (675116)

      There's no way to save whatever you've drawn onto the tablet

      Sure there is. Scan it or photocopy it before you erase it. If these get popular enough, scanners will be made smart enough to deal with the low contrast (grayish background) and white-on-black with a single button. Obviously it's not hard to do in software.

      It could obviously be better if the device could scan itself, but there is a workaround for now.

      Mal-2

    • So I suppose there is no chance of running Etch [debian.org] on it?

    • by fm6 (162816)

      The battery's sealed — apparently the lifetime of the battery exceeds that of the gadget itself.

      That detail aside, I can't disagree with anything you've said. I was excited at first hearing about this, but then I noticed the thing has no way to save what you write. Without that feature, what's the point?

      I noticed that there's a heavy emphasis on the greenness of the product. So this would seem to be yet another lame attempt to cash in on yuppie guilt over their big ecological footprints.

      • by narcc (412956)

        That's what got me. How could it possibly replace paper in schools (as noted on their website) if you can't save and electronically transmit the data to the instructor?

        Have standards in school dropped so significantly that our students need only a single sheet of paper per day? Are the kids expected to hand-in their pad for grading? Even at 1/8 inch, a stack of 30 pads is a good load for the poor teacher to lug home for grading.

        I was hoping this would make a good replacement for my old Casio PV-400 plus.

    • by Nikker (749551)
      It is very cool, saving would put it over the top. It might be good for a white/black board replacement though if they make it in larger dimensions that is.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kg4eyf (232264)

      Have you ever tried to jot a quick note on an Etch A Sketch? It's much more like a Magna Doodle [wikipedia.org].

    • If they were creating an automatic "etch-a-sketch"

      Then it would be powered by a dynamo which ,when you turn it upside down, (so you don't accidentally erase your image) and shake it to produce power to erase the image....
    • by pmontra (738736)
      Not infinite ink: according to their FAQ there is no way to replace the battery so you have to throw away the tablet when the power is over. Luckily it should last some years but it looks like a faulty design to me. And not being able to save, reload and edit pages is bad and is the negation of one of the main advantages of electronics. Despite those limitations they're selling very well so we'll get some better devices soon from that company or another one.
  • Shipping kills it (Score:5, Informative)

    by Albanach (527650) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:33AM (#30875624) Homepage

    Wow, they want almost $45US for shipping an 11oz tablet to the UK.

    USPS airmail from the US to the UK for a 1lb parcel is slightly over $10.

    So, it's $30 for the tablet, and $35 for the handling fee. Shame.

    • This is a tad ridiculous. Call me cynical, but perhaps this is why there is lots of "International" stock available, and the "US" stock is "Sold Out".
  • I was really excited about this when I saw it earlier this week. In fact I thought it was so cool I attempted to buy one. The company appears to be selling them on Amazon, but won't ship them to the USA.... so, has anyone actually purchased one?

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:38AM (#30875670)

    Cuz c'mon, what can you use this for? This is an easier to use version of the Etch-a-Sketch, nothing more. Good for kids to play with, but that's about it. I guess it beats paper and crayons, though, in that you now have an excuse not to have to put up their latest 'masterpiece' on the fridge for years. It's easier to just not have kids, though. Much more PRACTICAL that way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by uptownguy (215934)

      I read the summary thinking, Cool, this is a new form factor, I wonder what putting a million smart monkeys together and thinking about it might come up with... That's why I read Slashdot. I mean, anybody can just DISMISS something. It isn't that there is anything wrong with people summarily rejecting it and saying things like This is _______, nothing more ... it's just that I suspect there is a place for something like this. I'd be curious what that would look like. JUST an etch a sketch? ONLY kids?

      E

      • It's 30$ now. Invest ca. 5 million $ to start MASS producing. Another 5 million $ to start OSS programming for driver, UI etc. And finally 5 million $ for USB port and the rest of the needed hardware.

        3 years later you will have sold ca. 500 million units at 10 - 14$ a piece.

        5 years from now the price will have fallen to 5$ and thy will be found everywhere.

        In 10 years they will be given away for free.

    • by caywen (942955)

      Well, at least Etch-a-Sketch lets me draw perfectly straight lines without a ruler.

      BTW, what this needs isn't a way to save out the image information. What it needs is to cost around $5, because I'd rather buy a steno pad from Staples.

    • by ThreeGigs (239452)

      I'm buying one to hang on the refrigerator. Saves post-its and hunting for pencils.

      It works by using a charge to align LCD crystals, pressure randomizes them.

      I can imagine putting an array of photodetectors behind the LCD, such that a simple circuit could read the light pattern in sufficient detail to enable it to be digitized.

      • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

        I'm buying one to hang on the refrigerator. Saves post-its and hunting for pencils.

        So does a whiteboard, though admittedly, this _looks_ cooler than a whiteboard, and you'd save on the cost of the markers. But you get multiple colors with whiteboards, which may or may not be a deal-breaker, depending on your application.

        I just don't think this is solving a huge problem that existed before, so the attitude of "finally, a practical solution" aspect doesn't seem to apply. MagnaDoodles and whiteboards already e

    • by LihTox (754597)

      I'd say it's more like a replacement for a white board, one which doesn't require special pens. There are plenty of contexts where a whiteboard is currently used-- message board next to a phone or on an office door, grocery lists, daily-special signs in restaurants and stores, etc-- where this could be used just as well. (And you don't have to worry about the pen running dry; in fact, you don't have to worry about a pen at all, since people can use whatever writing implements they have handy, or even just

    • by mdwh2 (535323)

      Cheaper version of the Apple iSlate tablet, I thought. Who cares about why - it's a gadget! Hype it up!

  • from http://www.myboogieboard.com/ [myboogieboard.com]

    Attention

    Due to overwhelming interest, the Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet is currently out of stock on Amazon.com for orders shipping to the U.S. only (Amazon will still process an order for International shipment*).

    Today's shipment to Amazon has sold out. The tablet is expected to be back in stock by Tuesday. If you would like to be notified when it is in stock, please follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

    We apologize for any inconvenience.

    Thank you for your interest in the Boogie Board LCD Writing Tablet and your effort to "Say Goodbye to Paper".

    * Amazon will reject orders for U.S. shipment using the international link. Using the Buy Now button on myboogieboard.com will automatically take you to the international page.

    And I don't think the page has been slashdotted yet.

  • by xzvf (924443) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:42AM (#30875688)
    Etch A Sketch
  • OK, so it's 1/15 the price of steno paper. But with no ability to interact with a computer, I can think of something even cheaper and just as useful for grocery lists, doodling, practicing ABCs, and playing tic-tac-toe: a $3 whiteboard.

    • by RobVB (1566105)

      You still need pens for that whiteboard though, and wiping it is a lot more trouble than pushing a button.

    • by tomhudson (43916)

      Markers for the whiteboard dry out. And then there's the smart-alec who accidentally uses a permanent marker on it.

      • And then there's the smart-alec who accidentally uses a permanent marker on it.

        Your point is valid, but there's precisely nothing stopping someone using a permanent marker all over your new "Boogie Board".

        • by RobVB (1566105)

          So don't use it in a kindergarten class or near full-blown idiots.

          Better yet, keep your permanent markers out of reach of toddlers and full-blown idiots. They'll draw on anything.

        • by tomhudson (43916)

          And then there's the smart-alec who accidentally uses a permanent marker on it.

          Your point is valid, but there's precisely nothing stopping someone using a permanent marker all over your new "Boogie Board".

          There's no need to use ANY sort of marker on a boogie board. Your finger does fine, and there's less likelihood of someone mistaking a sharpie for their finger, unless they're management.

  • It's just the electronic equivalent of a "Mystic Writing Pad," those children's toys with a plastic sheet over a wax-coated cardboard tablet. You use a plastic stylus to write on the plastic and letters appear. Then you lift the pad (with a very satisfying crackling sound) and, like magic, the writing disappears. Great for passing notes in elementary school.

    No battery at all, and the cost was just pennies. Back then, anyway. :-)

    --Greg

  • by RoFLKOPTr (1294290) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:46AM (#30875720)

    It looks to me that this is not an electronic device, per se. There's no ability to save because it does not detect the presence of a writing object or the state of the surface. It seems to be just a really crappy, but durable, LCD screen. When you apply pressure, you displace the liquid crystal material. And when you "erase" the board, it applies electricity to redistribute everything. In order to add saving features, the "energy-efficient" part of the device that seems to be one of the major selling points would pretty much have to go down the drain.

    This is not meant to be a permanent record, and I don't know why they relate it to a pad of paper... it's more like a monochrome dry erase board.

    (I am not affiliated with the makers; I have never seen one of these up close and personal; The above writing is based purely on assumption from looking at pictures and reading what it does)

    • Wasn't there a pen you could get which scans as you write? Maybe you could use it with this device?

      • The ones I've heard of that do that require special paper. They have a sensor on the pen facing down that reads some pattern printed on the paper.

      • by Sancho (17056)

        If you're thinking about the Lightscribe pens, those actually require that you write on special paper. The paper contains nearly invisible (to the eye) dots in a grid which is actually how the pen tracks what you write.

        • by Zerth (26112)

          Fortunately, the special paper is easily made with a laser printer of sufficiently high DPI. You can use a copier too, but the dots encode position so writing on a photocopied sheet immediately after writing on the original will produce a scribbled mess on the computer.

          Inkjet doesn't work unless the ingredients are easily detectable with an IR camera.

    • by imunfair (877689)
      I disagree - you could use the current model with a built in flash drive that only needs to be activated during saves. It wouldn't be as energy efficient, but only being on when you press a 'save' button would still make the energy use fairly minimal. I'm not sure how much that extra functionality would drive up the price though - probably enough to make it a much less attractive device.
      • I disagree - you could use the current model with a built in flash drive that only needs to be activated during saves.

        I disagree. In order to do that, you would have to

        A) Capture activity in real time with a resistive touch mechanism.

        or B) Invent a method of detecting the current state of the screen at save time, which would involve a light-sensitive grid (or perhaps some other way that you could detect the presence of the liquid crystal material) covering the entire screen and capable of detecting a resolution that would be useful for storage of hand-drawn images, etc.

        Method A would completely negate any of these energy-e

      • No you couldn't, as there's no computing hardware in this device to read the display to save it to a flash drive. It's just a puddle of liquid crystals that you displace with the pen, and then get zapped back into position when you press the 'clear' button. It would need a lot more stuff to save the screen to memory.

    • by Zerth (26112)

      I'm guessing somebody was sitting in a warehouse of LCDs with stuck pixels thinking "what the hell can I do with these?"

    • by droopycom (470921)

      dry erase board is better: i can erase only a small part of it to make corrections.

  • The thing doesn't sound very useful if the only way to erase is to wipe the entire screen. I'd like to use something like this to replace pencil-and-eraser for math, but not if it's like using a pen...

  • Isn't this one of those things you give to kids to write on and then to erase it you pull up on the piece of plastic on the front?
  • Magna Doodle? (Score:2, Informative)

    by kg4eyf (232264)

    Shortly before reading this article, I was playing with my son's Magna Doodle [wikipedia.org], making a sketch of our dog. Somehow I was still impressed when I read this article. Nonetheless, the Magna Doodle is still cool. It takes no batteries to erase and even works under water! And it has for 36 years.

  • I'm going to dissent from the typical opinion here and say that I'd love this, even in its current form. In my duties as a programmer and sysadmin, I'm constantly jotting down things on sticky notes that I need to remember for one, two, maybe 5 days and then never again. A user's password so I can set up an account, a table schema so I can refer to it easily, a network diagram until I get it put into Visio, an IP, a telephone number, an IMEI, any number of things. I am always and forever using a stic
    • I already have a perfectly good place for temp data... my Clie. I'm sure that whatever handheld you use, whether it's a phone or a PDA, has a similar function built in. Now it's not as handy as it once was, in that I can no longer depend on being able to beam notes to co-workers back when everyone was using PalmOS or Windows CE (both of which supported Palm's IR beaming), but it's still an order of magnitude more convenient than a sticky note or a big clunky tablet.

      • by tarsi210 (70325)
        A good suggestion; I have an iPhone and do keep a few things in there. The problem is that the information I take down is only for my convenience and it is infinitely easier to glance over to a notepad or sticky note on my desk as I'm typing or on the phone than it is to spend the half-minute it'll take to pull the correct note up on my phone. That being said, you're right for things more long-term and needing to be mobile, and I do use the phone for those, including taking lots of pictures of wiring,
        • by argent (18001)

          The problem is that the information I take down is only for my convenience and it is infinitely easier to glance over to a notepad or sticky note on my desk as I'm typing or on the phone than it is to spend the half-minute it'll take to pull the correct note up on my phone.

          Sounds like the iPhone isn't as user-friendly as it's made out to be.

          The most recent note on my Clie comes up in seconds when I push the "note" button. And my "scratchpad" note is always that one or the one under it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tarsi210 (70325)
            Well, it comes up quickly, but first I have to reach for the phone, press the home button to wake it up, slide to unlock, enter in my passcode, then swipe to the screen with the Notes application, touch that, and then read what my note is. By that point, I need to get a cup of coffee. :)

            This beats shifting my eyes 6" to the left to read the post-it note without my hands leaving the keyboard/rodent. Win!
  • I bet you could get this thing to store images quite easily. (Well, with the right hardware design team and enough funding, I mean.)

    But it seems that all you'd need is some manner of scanning a series of on/offs, technology which is very robust and all over the place. It would be basically a scaled up digital camera sensor; heck, you could probably use many of the same controller chips which have been developed over the last ten years.

    The trick would be to hold back and not try to make it into an "everyth

  • remember dragon naturally speaking? remember the apple newton? bill gates was hyping tablets in 2001

    tablets are just not going to happen, like speech recognition is not going to happen

    both are eternally just beyond the horizon and somehow superior... except they are not

    sound recognition seems like it superior to keyboards, and yet its not

    likewise, scribbling on a pad seems superior to keyboards, and yet its not

    here, don't take my word for it, take bill gates circa 2001 hyping how we're going to be using tab

  • Here's a link to a project like this device [inventiondb.com] from 2005. The project was never built (and no, I'm not claiming these guys stole it), just showing people have been thinking about this a while. Differences: the referenced project was credit-card sized, to be a pocketable notepad; and the project used old-school 'memory bank' technology to be able to have multiple pages.

Everything that can be invented has been invented. -- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899

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