iSketchnote: an iPad Cover That Digitizes Your Paper Scribbles
Get in on the ground floor as we look at the most exciting crowdfunded tech projects out there right now. This week: iSketchnote, a cover for the iPad that allows users to digitize their paper-based sketches and notes in real time. No electronic pen is required, yet the magnetic technology can recognize the color of the ink being used.
Sep 18, 2013 5:00 AM PT
There's no denying the popularity of Apple's iPad and its Android-based kin, not just with adults but with kids as well. Now, for all those parents out there who wish their kids would play with something else once in a while -- simple drawing paper and pens, for instance -- a new Kickstarter funding project offers fresh hope.
Enter iSketchnote, a new effort that promises to bring sketch functionality to Apple's tablet. By no means just for kids, the technology is suitable for adults' sketches and for note-taking as well.
Drawing on a portable device screen has always been a cumbersome, laggy experience. iSketchnote creator ISKN Team reckons it's got a solution.
What Is It?
The prototype device uses a sensor matrix built into an adjacent iPad cover. Regular sheets of paper overlay the sensor, somewhat like a pad of paper in an executive writing portfolio.
The user makes doodles, notes or sketches on the paper normally, with an almost-normal pen. The sensor reads the classically drawn image created and re-creates it on the iPad in real time. Tagline: "From pen and paper to your iPad!"
The ballpoint and felt pens have no battery or electronics, and simply use a permanent magnet ring for identification of nib and color, which the matrix recognizes.
The digitizer uses its own chip: a STM32 microcontroller F4 series running at a 168MHz clock frequency. ISKN says connectivity will ultimately be Bluetooth, although this element of the project is not yet developed -- currently it uses USB.
A 4GB SD card can hold 100 pages, so the matrix can be used separately from the iPad. Latency is 50 ms. An API is available.
The NumbersISKN Team, a company founded by members of French microelectronics institute LETI, currently has more than 1,000 backers who are pledging US$127,106 of a $35,000 goal on Kickstarter. Its goal is funded, in other words, with some three weeks still to go.
A pledge of $29 gets you the pen, while $149 gets you a complete iSketchnote pack with three pens. Pledges of $499 allow you to become part of the development process including testing betas and co-designing apps.
The estimated shipping date is May 2014.
TechNewsWorld thinks the system has a significant advantage over standard digitizers -- the digitizer is the glass sandwich often called the touchscreen -- in that the electronics are designed for purpose rather than a compromised hacking of a touchscreen, as has been the case with previous like-minded products.
We like all of the features, including the obvious knee-top sketching and iPad-less functionality.
This product needs to be robust and can't just be a set of super-smart electronics in a pretty leather portfolio. We would like to see some mock-ups and serious development going into a bomb-proof, silicone outer-layered, polycarbonate precision shell next -- and not just renderings.
Having said that, ISKN Team are clearly taking this project seriously, and according to the project materials, they have a formidable and experienced team in place.
Our initial concerns that $35,000 in funding wasn't going to be enough is alleviated by massive interest in this product and resulting excess pledges from backers.