How do you exchange a file with a colleague or a photograph with a family member? Chances are that you cut the desired element and paste it into your e-mail program to send it. Now, imagine yourself in a meeting, picking a file on your PDA with a digital pen and using the same pen to drop it on your friend's laptop screen. This is exactly what Jun Rekimoto and his team at Sony Interaction Laboratory have developed with their 'pick and drop' technique. BBC News looks at this project in "Digital pen takes on mouse." Because it's based on cheap and existing components, such a system might be released in a near future, even Sony hasn't announced any plans to do it.
Here is the concept of the 'pick and drop' technique, which was demonstrated last April in Vienna, Austria, at the CHI 2004 conference.
Dr Rekimoto's lab has extended the drag and drop technique used in most PC software to create a 'pick and drop' technique. So the owner of a handheld computer can pick up a file from their device, using a special pen, and drop it onto the screen of another computer, by placing the pen on its screen.
The pick and drop technique would make it easy for two colleagues in a meeting to exchange files between their laptop computers, new acquaintances to pass each other electronic business cards, or friends to swap references to websites or music tracks they like.
Rekimoto and his team also developed the 'pick and beam' approach, suitable for lectures. You select an object on your screen and you drop it on a dashboard.
Documents can be dragged using a special pen from a computer desktop into these spaces. There they can be spread out or exchanged, allowing people to work with them almost as if they were paper documents.
Below are photographs illustrating the two techniques. You'll find larger versions of these images and some others at Sony Interaction Laboratory on this page.
||Here you can see a user selecting an object with his digital pen (Credit: Sony Interaction Laboratory).|
||And here is the same technique applied to drop objects on a dashboard during a lecture (Credit: Sony Interaction Laboratory).|
Now, let's look at what's powering this new human interaction interface.
The 'pick and drop' system was developed using the Mitsubishi Amity handheld pen computer and a Wacom PL300 pen-sensitive desktop screen. Pens are given a unique ID, which is readable by the computer when the pen is close to its screen.
When the pen tip comes close to the screen of another device, a shadow of the attached object appears on its screen. Tapping the pen tip instructs the 'pen manager' server to copy the file to that location.
For more information, please visit the Pick-and-Drop home page.
Sources: Nico Macdonald, BBC News Online, June 10, 2004; Sony Interaction Laboratory