The organizers of WIPTTE 2015, the Workshop on the Impact of Pen and Touch Technology on Education, kindly invited me to speak about my recent work on sensing techniques for stylus + tablet interaction.
One of the key points that I emphasized:
To design technology to fully take advantage of human skills, it is critical to observe what people do with their hands when they are engaged in manual activites such as handwriting.
Notice my deliberate the use of the plural, hands, as in both of ’em, in a division of labor that is a perfect example of cooperative bimanual action.
My six-year-old daughter demonstrates the power of crayon and touch technology.
And of course I had my usual array of stupid sensor tricks to illustrate the many ways that sensing systems of the future embedded in tablets and pens could take advantage of such observations. Some of these possible uses for sensors probably seem fanciful, in this antiquated era of circa 2015.
But in eerily similar fashion, some of the earliest work that I did on sensors embedded in handheld devices also felt completely out-of-step with the times when I published it back in the year 2000. A time so backwards it already belongs to the last millennium for goodness sakes!
Now aspects of that work are embedded in practically every mobile device on the planet.
It was a fun talk, with an engaged audience of educators who are eager to see pen and tablet technology advance to better serve the educational needs of students all over the world. I have three kids of school age now so this stuff matters to me. And I love speaking to this audience because they always get so excited to see the pen and touch interaction concepts I have explored over the years, as well as the new technologies emerging from the dim fog that surrounds the leading frontiers of research.
I am a strong believer in the dictum that the best way to predict the future is to invent it.
And the pen may be the single greatest tool ever invented to harness the immense creative power of the human mind, and thereby to scrawl out–perhaps even in the just-in-time fashion of the famous book Harold and the Purple Crayon–the uncertain path that leads us forward.
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Update: I have also made the original technical paper and demonstration video available now.
If you are an educator seeing impacts of pen, tablet, and touch technology in the classroom, then I strongly encourage you to start organizing and writing up your observations for next year’s workshop. The 2016 edition of the series, (now renamed CPTTE) will be held at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and chaired by none other than the esteemed Andries Van Dam, who is my academic grandfather (i.e. my Ph.D. advisor’s mentor) and of course widely respected in computing circles throughout the world.
Hinckley, K., WIPTTE 2015 Invited Talk: Sensing Techniques for Tablet + Stylus Interaction. Workshop on the Impact of Pen and Touch Technology on Education, Redmond, WA, April 28th, 2015. [Slides (.pptx)] [Slides PDF]