I too am underwhelmed by yesterday’s iPad launch, and found it neither “magical”, nor “revolutionary”. I really hoped that leveraging the tablet form factor would actually solve a real problem for me. To me the tablet is begging for a pen-and-paper augmentation application suite…although I’m sure as I’m typing this someone has already developed an “app for that”.

What I want
With that application comes my needed, enabling feature: simple, cross-device cut & paste. That is, to take a hand drawn sketch from the tablet and seamlessly “beam it” over to a laptop or mobile device and have it ready for use immediately, just like you can across applications on a single platform.

What I don’t want
What I don’t want is to take a picture –> send it to a holding application –> pull it down on the other device –> insert it where I want. There are tools like Evernote and Dropbox for that. Nor am I relying on the long-held promise of “Pen Computing” where I have to add another expensive device to the mix.

Customer Empathy Story* #1:
I’m a rabid whiteboard user, and often use a notebook (I mean, a real pen & paper notebook) for concept sketches and diagrams. I often find it easier to draw a diagram or chart than to write text. Sometimes I’ll take a picture of the whiteboard with my phone, and other times I’ll try to recreate the sketch in my notebook. However, this all bottlenecks trying to clean it up and share the image more broadly (like in a Basecamp thread). This is often a painstaking process to clean up the image (I have terrible handwriting), or to recreate it in a drawing program. I’m impatient, hence the reason I draw in the first place. So, I’m looking for a quick way to transcribe diagrams developed by-hand into a format I can quickly clean-up and share.

[*TANGENTIAL RANT: I’ve deliberately avoided calling this a “user story” after the popular XP term, as I think those are “works like” descriptions or “I want” lists, not true stories. My version aims to create customer empathy by giving more color and insight into who the user is, what they want to achieve, and how they fill that need today. So it sets up the later description of how to solve their problem with your “works like” description.]

Customer Empathy Story #2:
My wife is an interior designer. She often uses her laptop to go show clients in the field concepts, and ideas. Yet, she still finds it faster and easier to use her trusty notebook for quick sketches, and note taking. Adding those notes to a client summary document, or recreating her sketches in her design tools is also an excruciating process. She would love to carry a “digital sketch pad” that would allow her the best of both worlds, and make later development of those ideas easier.

Commentary
In both scenarios it should be abundantly clear that a digital pen & paper solution, with augmented software to support them, makes a ton of sense. I think that development is inevitable, and someone smart will develop tools that help me “clean up” the boxes, arrows, and text I write on the fly (using OCR), and make importing the files I create into other programs easier. What I’m looking for is a way to quickly send it to another device. We have Bluetooth, devices can be set up as “trusted” peers, we have gesture technology, so I’m pretty sure we can do this.

If you’ve seen Minority Report or Avatar there are scenes where a user grabs an image form the big screen and throws it on his tablet, which he then walks over to share that tablet with another person. While what I’m asking for need not be that dramatic, but the general idea is the same.

If someone can do that with their tablet, I’ll line up to buy one, and I though that Apple who has the iPhone, iPod, MacBook, and now iPad would be first to figure it out. I guess I’ll have to wait for the “gPad”, or Microsoft’s Courier…if it ever gets out of the lab.

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1 comment

  1. Rishi,

    I’m totally in agreement re: the need for a stylus solution. What about an accessory that has capacitive capabilities to draw on the screen, but also has a cable via the dock that transmits pressure sensitivity. You have a number of really cool apps built around it.

    You’ve got the manufacturing experience, the software experience, and the style. Make it so!

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