Juliana Cherston

How To Make Almost Anything

COPY/PASTE: A Smart Notebook

[9/30: ADDENDUM: I am becoming more serious about trucking ahead with my muon blanket experiment!]

I wish you could just Apple-C Apple-V what you're looking at into a notebook.

There is a unique feeling associated with writing in a physical journal. Writing by hand can help you process thoughts more clearly and think more spontaneously. But I crave an easy way to paste in a photograph of whatever I am looking at.

Unfortunately, this is an incredibly tedious process! You must leave an empty space in your journal, take the photo with your smartphone, and then later on in the day you must remember to bring your smartphone (and cord) to a printing shop, print the photo, bring the photo home and paste it in. What a pain!

  • Project: Final Project Proposal
  • Concept: Embedded journal screen that can associate digital photos with handwritten pages
  • Date: September, 2014
  • Skills: Solidworks modeling
SUMMARY: For my final project I propose a journal that allows you to associate a particular page with a digital photo of what you are currently looking at (or, for that matter, any other photo you'd like.) Though this will be a useful and novel feature for personal journals, I also anticipate great practical value for scientific lab notebooks as well. Scientists get all the value of a tangible notebook with a way to easily attach images of experiments underway.
Here's how you use it...
Project 01a
If you'd like to paste a digital image into your journal or lab notebook, simply launch an app and take a photo with your smartphone, ensuring that your notebook is opened to the correct page. The app will now send the image via Bluetooth to the notebook, where it will be stored on an internal memory chip embedded in the front cover. The notebook will also detect the curently-opened page (explained more below) and store the association so that any time the user returns to the page, the correct image can be displayed on the built-in screen. The screen slides in and out of the front cover for easy access when desired. For example, imagine you are a chemist conducting an experiment and want a visual record of your experimental setup in your lab notebook. Just take a picture at some point while jotting down notes on your experimental configuration, and remain confident that the photo will be displayed on the screen any time you return to the current page.
Project 01b
I imagine that page detection can work by embedding a resistor in the corner of each page in such a way that multiple pages stacked atop one another form a set of resistors in parallel. Circuitry embedded in the front cover can send current through the set of resistors to measure the total resistance of the circuit and infer the page number. Remaining details about the circuitry are still under consideration (how much power will the device consume? How will you charge the device? Will the device have to constantly listen for a ping from the smartphone app? What sort of internal memory should the device have?)
Project 01c
I explored some other directions as well (and may still return to these ideas). For example, I thought: why embed a custom screen when you can just have your smartphone screen on hand? But then, thinking about my own usage patterns, I realized that part of the intrigue of a handwritten notebook is that it is a self-contained entity. If I lose my phone, I don't want my photos to disappear as well. I want to know that if I return to the journal in 10 years all my photos will still be around, regardless of how technology adapts. So in the end, I stuck to an embedded screen and embedded memory. I also toyed with the idea of a projector system, ideally one that could attach to an arbitrary notebook. I still suspect that a projector system might be the ultimate design implementation for this concept, but got bogged down thinking about page detection in arbitrary notebooks. However, when playing around with the concept of projection, I realized that I'd definitly taken some inspiration from SixthSense, a famous Media Lab project focused on bridging the digital and physical worlds by superimposing relevant information on tangible objects...
In fact, theoretically this whole project could be restructured as an app for SixthSense (and maybe it ought to be?) But at least for the moment, I'll stick with the self-contained design, restrict users to one image per two pages, and (at least in the interest of getting a prototype up and running!) keep things as simple as possible...
It's been about 3 years since I used SolidWorks in any serious capacity, so this project really helped me get back into the swing of things. I still ran into some open questions: for example: is there a way to render an image (such as my ATLAS collision image) in PhotoView360? Is there a way for me to build a closed loop instead of an open loop and still have it act as a notebook ring in the assembly? (I couldn't get it to mate, probably because Solidworks thinks I'm playing with metal, and so I had to settle for a half-loop). Ideally, I could have had the notebook pages spinning on the rings, but couldn't get that up and running. All this said, after a solid day fiddling around with Solidworks to get this project in place, I could probably repeat the process in <1 hour, so I'd call my Get-Back-Into-SolidWorks goal a success. In retrospect, I suspect that my design could have been more easily accomplished using a different tool than SolidWorks, since SolidWorks is optimized for machining parts and not necessarily optimized for flexible materials.
COPY/PASTE: A Smart Notebook That Prints What You See