Tweet your doodles with UbiSketch

Students in a boring lesson used to pass notes and doodles to their friends, but now they are more likely to whip out their phone for a text or status update. Lisa Cowan and colleagues at the University of California San Diego are hoping to combine the two with UbiSketch, a paper-based system that lets you upload drawings to Twitter, Facebook, or your email.

UbiSketch uses an Anoto digital pen to covert hand-drawn images into pictures on your phone. The pen works by reading a pattern of dots printed on the page, letting it track its position as you draw, and sends data to your phone via Bluetooth.

Cowan and team created a notebook printed with the dot pattern and added a flap with paper "buttons" for saving or uploading your work that can be activated by tapping them with the pen. The phone, which can display the image as you draw or just sit in your pocket, then uploads the file to the UbiSketch server, where it is sent on to the social network of your choice.

The researchers asked 10 people to test out UbiSketch over a period of four weeks. The results, presented today at the Mobile HCI conference in Stockholm, Sweden, were mostly positive, with the testers enjoying the system and finding that their Facebook friends would comment more on sketches than they normally did with photos. 

There were some issues though, such as the digital version of the sketches not reflecting lines of different thickness found in the paper images. Still, such issues can be excused when you're posting via pen-and-paper. As one participant put, it "You touch the pen to it, and [the
sketch] is on Facebook. You're like, 'Whoa . . . this is unreal'."