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A Practical LCD Writing Tablet

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the write-on dept.

Toys 171

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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Wow What an Idea (2)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875546)

Damn, My class mate and I had this kinda of an idea for a final year project, time to rethink.

demo please? (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875564)

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

Re:demo please? (3, Insightful)

Tjp($)pjT (266360) | more than 4 years ago | (#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

Re:demo please? (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876238)

And it has digital output... through the scanner on my all-in-one printer.

Re:demo please? (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876432)

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? (3, Interesting)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876682)

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 :)

Demo videos right here (1)

prakslash (681585) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876380)

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! (1)

Phantasmagoria (1595) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875584)

Looks great, and the price seems awesome. Is it too good to be true?

Re:Looks Great! (3, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876092)

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.

Re:Looks Great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876334)

[A pencil and paper pad] does the same for a tenth of the amount and the added convienence that it can easilly be digitized using common computer technology.

Except the cost of the scanner puts your solution back up over $30, and if you were hoping to digitally color your lineart, editing the white parts to be transparent is a bitch. By contrast, it'd be perfectly feasible for the LCD tablet to output transparent lineart directly, if the developers wanted.

Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (4, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | more than 4 years ago | (#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".

Re:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (3, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | more than 4 years ago | (#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!

Why oh why can I not save the screen? (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Why oh why can I not save the screen? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875750)

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.

Re:Why oh why can I not save the screen? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875830)

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.

Re:Why oh why can I not save the screen? (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875876)

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!

Re:Why oh why can I not save the screen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876032)

I saw this on Gizmodo yesterday, and when I checked amazon they only had one left

Re:Why oh why can I not save the screen? (1)

BattleApple (956701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876680)

I accidentally searched for "boobie board" on amazon.. Needless to say, that turned up some interesting results. "BOOBIE BALLOONS FLESH" wtf?

Ok then, why not paper???? (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Ok then, why not paper???? (1)

Deltaspectre (796409) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875982)

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. Maybe if I was able to flip between a couple of pages, so I didn't have to erase as soon as one filled up. Neat concept though.

Re:Ok then, why not paper???? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876482)

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 easily grip a writing implement. Can't speak, can't hold a pen, but still have even rudimentary hand dexterity? You can write on this, but not a pad of paper.

Since it doesn't, and can't, store what's written on it, and erases without a physical trace, the tech could be useful for secure handwriting.

For paper-wasteful, short-term notes that are pointless to save and end up in the trash - brainstorming, thought organizing, memorization through repetitive writing/muscle memory - this is far more efficient (and part of the reason it's so heavily marketed to schools).

I do agree that it has several flaws and missed opportunities. On top of the obvious inability to save and dependency on a battery, it's not backlit, which could make it a fantastic piece of dynamic signage. Like any LCD, it's temperature sensitive - its listed operating temperatures are 14F-145F, but I'm not sure I'd trust it below freezing, in a hot kitchen or for extended periods outdoors over 100. Erasing is, like an Etch-A-Sketch, an all-or-nothing affair, and isn't instantaneous. I have a hard time buying into the "green" paper-saving aspect when the board is apparently not designed to be user serviceable (when the battery dies, Improv says to buy a new one) and paper is far more recyclable than any component of this pad. And perhaps most disappointing to me is the lack of any form of digital input - if it was possible to make it display monochrome image files, you'd immediately have a lovely piece of equipment for things like circuit reference, blueprints or other sorts of repair documentation. It's a pain to have a printer exclusively for that purpose, and digital devices of that size are too expensive to care about.

But to dismiss the tech altogether demonstrates a lack of imagination. There's quite a few practical uses for this, especially at the price point.

Re:Why oh why can I not save the screen? (1)

tchdab1 (164848) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875852)

drop it on a copier later to save your image.

Re:Why oh why can I not save the screen? (4, Insightful)

oGMo (379) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Totally agree (1)

mystik (38627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876316)

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 capability, but was coded by IBM, and was clunky. By College though, I had switched to linux by my 1st year, and coulden't find a viable way of running it :(

Re:Totally agree (1)

mystik (38627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876344)

I should add --
  • No screen on the device (besides a small status screen)
  • You could use *any* paper, but you had to have the tablet under it
  • You had to use the supplied special pen (which was a nice pen, not a cheap plastic thing)

Re:Why oh why can I not save the screen? (1)

lavardo (683333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875886)

yes, it would be awesome if maybe a future model had a sdcard capability or similar. :)

Re:Why oh why can I not save the screen? (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876358)

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...

Re:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30875654)

That and it's a cleaner/cheaper alternative to an actual black/whiteboard setup in public places.

Hell, scale it up to a full blackboard size, plug it in, and use this in schools. Or is that already happening? I haven't really kept up with this kind of thing.

The only negative of using this in schools is that the fun of clapping erasers will be gone forever. Ah, my dreams of NINJA VANISH *CLAP**CLAP**CLAP**CLAP**CLAP* gone forever.

Re:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (3, Interesting)

adolf (21054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875680)

"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.

Re:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (1)

Dharh (520643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876596)

The Fisher Bullet Space Pen is what I use. I had the same pen with its original ink cartridge in my pocket for 10+ years. I've only just now had to buy a new cartridge.

Re:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875712)

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

Re:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (1)

omega6 (1072658) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875856)

Except the battery is sealed...and non-replaceable according to their site.

Re:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875938)

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

Re:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875970)

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.

Re:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876042)

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:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (2, Interesting)

kg4eyf (232264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876254)

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

Re:Automatic erasing etch-a-sketch (1)

s0litaire (1205168) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876602)

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....

No Saving.......... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30875598)

There is no saving....

Shipping kills it (4, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875624)

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.

Re:Shipping kills it (1)

lavardo (683333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875904)

Just spend a few days kayaking over here and pick it up with no shipping costs. Then you would only have to pay for the food & water for your trip.

Re:Shipping kills it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876046)

The parent post isn't complaining about the fact that shipping's not free -- he/she is complaining that Amazon is charging far too much compared to USPS.

The s+h for the Boogie Board to Canada (I'm just across the border from Buffalo, NY) is $28. That's quite ridiculous. I had electronics of similar dimensions shipped to Canada for a little over $15 (USPS, no brokerage).

Re:Shipping kills it (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876412)

Just spend a few days kayaking over here and pick it up with no shipping costs. Then you would only have to pay for the food & water for your trip.

You want to sea kayak the North Atlantic? I don't think even Ed Gillet [canoekayak.com] would try that. Unless you tried to hug the coast and ice around the north. Should be pretty safe that way.

Of course this is the standard way [google.com] for us to get to the USA now.

Re:Shipping kills it (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876302)

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".

Can you actually buy it? (1)

tigeba (208671) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875630)

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?

Re:Can you actually buy it? (1)

TwiztidK (1723954) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875836)

They will ship them to the US, they have just been selling out as soon as Amazon restocks. Watch their Twitter [twitter.com] for updates.

the fridge, not the computer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30875656)

"writing tablet" implies storage/transfer of said writing. This would pass more as a "glorified fridge notepad". booooring...

you used the word practical why? (3, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:you used the word practical why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30875692)

I think a Magna-Doodle is closer.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magna_Doodle

Re:you used the word practical why? (4, Interesting)

maxwells_deamon (221474) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876090)

Many years ago I was going to have jaw surgery. I was going to be wired shut for about seven weeks. They told me to bring a paper tablet and a pen. I went to the toy store to pick up one of the pads called magic slates in the midwest. I came across a new toy called a Magna Doodle.

This is two sheets of plastic with white oil and iron fillings (or something similar) you had a magnetic wand and the back has a wide magnet.

When you write on the surface with the wand the dark particals move to the front and turn it dark and the slider on the bottom wipes it back out.

The doctors/nurses had never seen one and would borrow it at the start of each shift and show it at the daily meetings.

Not pressure sensitive, but I think it does most everything else the board does

Re:you used the word practical why? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876338)

Many years ago I was going to have jaw surgery. I was going to be wired shut for about seven weeks.

How did you ever manage to live for so long without a cock in your mouth?

Did you take it up the butt instead?

Re:you used the word practical why? (1)

GabriellaKat (748072) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876124)

Well, I'm going to buy one for use waiting tables. It will save my friend (who owns the pizza place) a bit on the ledgers we use for jotting down a tables order. And if it works great for me, maybe I can convince everyone else to buy one and use them also. This will save on trees and paper going into the trash and into the landfill. And because a few people work at multiple resturants, maybe this will catch on. Wish I could come up for a way make one that retains what is written on it and can pull info back up.... I would market it to resturants. But this will do for now

Wait three days (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876248)

Apple will have what you want, albeit at a huge cost increase (business deductible maybe?). But it will work to take orders, plus retain the info, and be transferable probably wirelessly to the restaurants main computer system, etc. Heck, it might transfer in real time as you are writing on it at the table back into the kitchen, or to the bartender to start mixing and pouring. Plus, you will be able to do other stuff with it--if all these rumors are true. So wait three days..or get both! See which is better for your purpose.

Re:you used the word practical why? (2, Insightful)

uptownguy (215934) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876142)

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?

Even if the form factor isn't perfect out of the gate, there will be some people who recognize this is close to what they need for an outstanding problem. Perhaps a problem they may not even know that they face until the solution comes along. (I often think the Nokia 800 fanbase is like that. I read Slashdot daily and so of course I KNOW that there are people out there who swear by that device. It's the wrong form factor for me but then the introduction of it -- and the wider recognition in the market of the demand for portable browsing devices -- ultimately led to a $300 netbook that I adore...)

When something sort of new comes along, I like to pay attention and think about what the children might be like.

No offense to the original poster.

Re:you used the word practical why? (1)

Kong the Medium (232629) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876456)

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.

So when can we get one? (1)

starbugs (1670420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875686)

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.

I got one that uses no batteries (2, Insightful)

xzvf (924443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875688)

Etch A Sketch

Re:I got one that uses no batteries (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875762)

It doesn't use a pen either.

Re:I got one that uses no batteries (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875940)

Im going to go draw Boobs on the Boogie Board.

No download (1)

devnullkac (223246) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875706)

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.

Re:No download (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875788)

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

Re:No download (1)

lavardo (683333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875950)

Also, you don't get those occasional marker colorings on your hands.

Re:No download (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876006)

This seems to be monochrome, while whiteboard markers come in different colors.

Re:No download (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876052)

I dunno... some of those dry erase come with some interesting smells... mmmm gets my glassy eyed just thinkin about it.

Re:No download (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875890)

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

Re:No download (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876152)

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".

Re:No download (1)

RobVB (1566105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876176)

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.

Electronic Mystic Writing Pad (1)

Greg Hullender (621024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875714)

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

Re:Electronic Mystic Writing Pad (1)

TwiztidK (1723954) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875874)

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.

This was actually exactly what I thought of when I saw this, especially cause I used one of those pads as a child. The only problems with the "Mystic Writing Pads" was that part of the message would often erase itself in the process of writing and they would actually wear out pretty quickly under heavy use.

Re:Electronic Mystic Writing Pad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30875924)

Keyword: Pennies

YASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30875718)

Yet another Slashdot advertisement.
And it doesn't fit my definition of "practical".

No saving? Here's why... (3, Interesting)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#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)

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875882)

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

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875912)

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.

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875922)

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.

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876050)

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.

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

ccahua4 (1728274) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876146)

It's the LiveScribe Pulse which is rebranded Anoto technology that has a camera registering scribbles on special barely visible dot paper. The Livescribe has the unique ability to sync audio which is one of its key features: capturing sound synced to writing

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

imunfair (877689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876056)

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.

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

RoFLKOPTr (1294290) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876158)

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-efficiency claims that, as I said before, are one of the major selling points for the device, and method B would make the device extremely expensive and would probably take a year of R&D to even be feasible.

This thing is designed to be a cheap way of drawing and writing notes in a way that isn't messy and doesn't require you to have spare pens in case one runs out of ink. If you want to store your notes... use a computer?

Re:No saving? Here's why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876222)

I haven't investigated it, but do lcd crystals change their electrical values as they operate? Does the resistance increase/ decrease as the crystals twist towards the "erased" state? What about voltage differential? We already have circuit drivers and wiring layout solved to address each pixel individually - already used to drive real lcd displays. All we need now is some measurement that can be taken as we sequentially "erase" the pixels - turn them black and measure how long it takes based on said changes in resistance / capacitance / voltage etc. This can tell us how dark each pixel had been before we tried to erase it.

It might add a few microseconds to the erase time, and certainly would consume a little more electricity. But shouldn't be that hard to engineer.

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876210)

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.

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

Gabe0463 (1438795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876064)

Wow thanks for explaining that - and killing the dream that they might come out with one that captures its input...

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876096)

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

Re:No saving? Here's why... (1)

droopycom (470921) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876448)

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

Magic Slate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30875724)

Seriously, why would anyone pay more than a dollar for something like this when Magic Slates have been around for decades with the exact same functionality?

Re:Magic Slate? (1)

lavardo (683333) | more than 4 years ago | (#30875962)

Technology! :)

Practical but not a Writing Tablet (1)

esten (1024885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876012)

I plan on getting on and trying it out. For $30, whenever it gets back in stock, it should be well worth it. I could see myself using if for to do lists or anything else I would normally use a scrap of paper for. Probably less likely to lose this too. Heck it might even look good hanging above my bar for a list of whats on tap.

Already done without a battery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876028)

When I was a child, I had this "toy" that was essentially a sheet of cardboard covered with some type of black film. On top of the black cardboard was a white, semi-transparent sheet of plastic. The cardboard and plastic were attached at the top of the toy (much like a legal pad). When you applied pressure with a stylus, the plastic sheet would press down on the cardboard sheet, creating a darker spot than the rest of the plastic surface. This would allow you to write/draw whatever you wanted. To erase, you simply lifted the plastic sheet off of the cardboard sheet.

That toy didn't use batteries and I can't imagine it would cost more than $5 today.

Can you erase? (1)

booyabazooka (833351) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876058)

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...

Um... (1)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876076)

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?

A really big one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876080)

...So we have a device that is basically a whiteboard without markers, or a chalkboard without chalk.

Seems to me it needs to be bigger than a piece of paper. How about building one the size of a piece of plywood?

E-Magic Slate? (1)

Dr.Altaica (200819) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876118)

12 for 29cents [amazon.com] that don't need a battery or $30 for this thing that does.... Doesn't seem pratical to me.

Magna Doodle? (2, Informative)

kg4eyf (232264) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876234)

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.

ho98o (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876266)

demise. You 3on't recruitment, bu7 From the OpenBSD

tag !inputdev please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876284)

It's not a practical LCD writing tablet if you can't store.

SSMI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876314)

What I see is if they could implement this with and e-ink device and saving you could have the best digital note taker ever.

first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30876354)

first post

Etch A Sketch (1)

tru3ntropy (1632547) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876392)

Sounds like a high tech Etch A Sketch to me :)

Perfect for Temp Data (1)

tarsi210 (70325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30876442)

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 sticky note and then trashing it. This would simply allow me to replace them with something functionally the same but without waste.

Yes, I agree -- it would be awesome to have the ability to save and have multiple pages. But let's not overlook what good it has already, which I'd say is quite a lot.
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