What I've been up to: freehand drawing on the OLPC laptop

April 17, 2008 ⋅ 1 Comment »

Some of you might remember my post from January where I talked about the innovative interface of the OLPC laptop. I wrote that post after talking to Mike Fletcher about doing an OLPC-related project for a course I was taking with Greg Wilson. It turned out to be a really fun and cool project, and now that I’m finally finished the course, I thought I’d post about it here.

So, you’ve probably all heard of One Laptop per Child. They recently started shipping their first laptop, which is called the XO. One of the unique things about the XO is that it comes with a built-in graphics tablet. Unfortunately, the system software doesn’t come with tablet support built-in. My project for the semester was to work on improving the tablet support — specifically, the API for activity developers, and the user interface for drawing.

The user interface ended up being the most challenging part of the problem, because the XO tablet is not quite like a standard graphics tablet. It has no hover mode, and it has an aspect ratio that’s completely different from the XO’s screen. In this video, where I explain some of the ways I’ve come up with to deal with these problems.

For more information about the project, check out the Pen Tablet Support and Pen Tablet UI pages on the OLPC wiki.

I’m planning on continuing with this work this summer, so if you’ve got a comment or any other ideas, I’d love to hear them. Leave ‘em here, or send me an email.


  1. Dubroy.com/blog - Sugar leaves the One Laptop per Child nest - May 16, 2008:

    [...] This is an interesting development. I started working on OLPC-related projects a few months ago, doing some work on the user interface for the built-in graphics tablet. Back in January, I wrote about how cool I think the Sugar UI is. I really hope that Sugar can gain some momentum on its own, instead of constantly being overshadowed by the political and ethical issues of the One Laptop per Child project as a whole. [...]