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Glassified – Ruler with transparent display to supplement physical drawing


Created by Anirudh Sharma, Lirong Liu and Pattie Maes at the MIT Media Lab (Fluid Interfaces Group), Glassified is a modified ruler with a transparent display to supplement physical strokes made on paper with virtual graphics. The goal of the device is to complement rather than replace a typical ruler and since the display is transparent, both the physical strokes and the virtual graphics are visible in the same plane.

Digitizer embedded in the ruler captures the pen strokes and updates the graphical overlay, fusing the traditional function of a ruler with the added advantages of a digital, display-based system. The device serves two purposes — to aid the user in drawing straight lines and secondly, it is a tool for taking measurements. Glassified augments both of these functions by means of its transparent, graphical display.

The Glassified prototype consists of a transparent OLED combined with a see-through ruler. The ruler is connected to a computer that does the gesture/stroke recognition and sends the commands to the display via RS232 communication. The pen strokes are captured by a Wacom digitizer using their API. The pixel density of the tracking system is different from the pixel density of the display, which is taken into consideration by the rendering engine running in the background.

On the computer, the task of the openFrameworks application is to solve math problems, combe drawing with computer algorithms, and learn physics using a physics simulator to understand movement and forces in physics drawings. Using Glassified’s stroke detection the software stores the dimensions of the strokes and their relational properties. E.g. A triangle is a sequence of three vertices of different angles. Overlaying the triangle with the ruler displays the length, angles, and other dimensions on top of the drawing. The team says this could be further extended to more complicated calculations such as finding the area of a polygon, labeling geometric shapes, etc.

The paper on the project is currently undergoing publication and will be available online soon.

Anirudh Sharma | MIT Media Lab (Fluid Interfaces Group)