How to make your own interactive chalkboard for only $40

April 28, 2016

What if you could create your own device that translates your handwriting into digital files?

Being a digital editor, it should come as no surprise that I am a fan of the latest and greatest technology. There are a few activities, however, like the sensation of holding a pen or a piece of chalk, that technology can never replace. But what if you could create your own device that translates your handwriting into digital files? Sound too complicated? All you need is a chalkboard, some pulleys, and a few ultrasonic sensors.

According to Popular Science: "A team of three students--David Katz, Harrison Zhao and Caleb Zulawski--has undertaken just such a project for a hacking competition this past weekend at Cooper Union in New York.

The team connected a chalk-holder to two strings. Each string is connected to a pulley and a weight. As the chalk moves, it pulls on the strings, causing the pulley weights--each of which is encased in a PVC tube on one side of the board--to go up and down. Using ultrasonic sensors at the bottom of each of the tubes, the String2string software can figure out how far away the weights are, and thus calculate--using some fancy geometry--the position of the chalk relative to the board. It can then duplicate that same movement on a digital canvas, recreating any writing or drawing done on the board. In theory, the team says, the technique will work with boards of any size, and would presumably translate easily to large pads of paper or whiteboards.

Those drawings are stored and can be downloaded digitally as images--if they're only composed of text, the team says that the images can be easily processed with optical character recognition to turn it into editable text"

About the Author

Alexis Gajewski | Senior Content Strategist

Alexis Gajewski has over 15 years of experience in the maintenance, reliability, operations, and manufacturing space. She joined Plant Services in 2008 and works to bring readers the news, insight, and information they need to make the right decisions for their plants. Alexis also authors “The Lighter Side of Manufacturing,” a blog that highlights the fun and innovative advances in the industrial sector. 

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