Texas Instrument’s OMAP4 platform, star of MWC 2010, is now filtering out onto the market in devices like the LG Optimus 3D and BlackBerry PlayBook, but we’re yet to see anything quite make the most of its hardware abilities. We caught up with EPOS, who have used the OMAP4’s triple microphone array to develop an ultrasonic pen system that can track handwriting in the space a foot around a device.
Video demo after the cut
The pad of paper is completely normal; the only specialist hardware is a stylus with an ultrasonic emitter at the tip. Three microphones feed directly into the OMAP4 chipset, which has DSP to do the necessary positioning crunching. In the current demo – which EPOS only took a month to put together – the OMAP4 Blaze developer device tracks pen movement in a pad-sized area to the side of the device, but eventually it will be able to monitor the full 360-degrees around.
It works surprisingly well, even in this prototype stage. EPOS’s existing product uses a clip-on sensor array that fits to the top of a pad, but with the new system you could simply put your phone down on a table, pull out the special stylus and start writing, with the text being saved digitally on the device. You could then run handwriting recognition, or squirt it into something like Evernote which can search handwritten notes.
The best thing about the system is, the hardware requirements are core to the abilities of the OMAP4 chipset; all the device needs is a triple microphone array, to triangulate the position of the pen. No word on release dates at this stage.