'Scribble' drawing pad animates your doodles

Art and design students from the University of Michigan create a handheld touch-screen toy that lets users turn digital drawings into animation sequences.

Students Penn Greene, Ryan Thurmer, Chris Parker, and Alexis Stepanek received a $2,500 prize for their Scribble prototype. University of Michigan

A group of University of Michigan students has brought the old-school flip book into the 21st century with the Scribble, a handheld touch-screen toy that turns digital drawings into animations.

With a plastic-tip pen, users hand-draw and save a series of consecutive images, which the Scribble then plays back in sequence to create the illusion of movement (once saved, drawings can be edited). A functional prototype of the device recently netted first place in a toy design competition co-sponsored by the University of Michigan College of Engineering's Center for Entrepreneurship, and Giddy Up Toys.

To make their product, University of Michigan Art and Design undergrads Penn Greene, Ryan Thurmer, Chris Parker, and Alexis Stepanek ripped electronics from an Asus Eee PC. They specially ordered their touch screen and custom-wrote the Scribble software. The device also comes with a built-in camera for those who want to go the stop-motion animation route.

The Scribble grew out of a December focus group in which student designers asked third-graders what they wanted for the holidays. "Many wanted interactive touch-screen devices such as iPods or Nintendo DSes," Thurmer said. "Using this information, we reflected on vivid memories of creating flip books as children. We knew we wanted to recreate those experiences and memories, but in a more environmentally friendly and technological way, without the use of paper."

About the author

Leslie Katz, Crave's senior editor, heads up a team that covers the most crushworthy (and wackiest) tech, science, and culture around. As a co-host of the now-retired CNET News Daily Podcast, she was sometimes known to channel Terry Gross and still uses her trained "podcast voice" to bully the speech recognition software on automated customer service lines. E-mail Leslie.


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