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One ruler to rule them all

Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have created Glassified, a ruler with a transparent digital display.

(Credit: MIT Media Lab)

Researchers at the MIT Media Lab have created Glassified, a ruler with a transparent digital display.

A ruler is a pretty basic piece of equipment. It needs one straight edge with measurement markings (the best rulers have two, with both metric and imperial), and it's perfect just as it is.

Or is it? We've not really seen a high-tech ruler before, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for one. Take, for instance, the MIT Media Lab's Glassified: a normal ruler that has been modified with a transparent OLED display and a digitiser that scans the pen strokes.

"Glassified is a modified ruler with a transparent display to supplement physical strokes made on paper with virtual graphics," said the team, consisting of masters student Anirudh Sharma, professor Pattie Maes and assistant professor Lirong Liu. "Because the display is transparent, both the physical strokes and the virtual graphics are visible in the same plane. A digitiser captures the pen strokes in order to update the graphical overlay, fusing the traditional function of a ruler with the added advantages of a digital, display-based system."

What that means — as you can see in the video below — is that the display can interact with shapes and lines drawn on a page to provide more information about that drawing, such as angle measurements, scale measurements and even small physics simulations of how an object might interact with that drawing.

We kind of really want one — and, luckily for us, there will soon be a way to get a hold of Glassified. The project is open source, so Sharma will be putting instructions on his web page so that you can make one for yourself.

Via fluid.media.mit.edu