Purdue Adopts Digital Notepads for Graphics Courses

Purdue University has developed one of the most innovative Computer Graphics (CG) departments in the U.S. As part of its core curriculum, CG offers an extensive array of 35 courses in manufacturing graphics, construction graphics communications, interactive multimedia and technical animation.

As part of its goal to leverage emerging technologies like the Internet, the CG department is always looking for more efficient ways to support storyboarding, visual note taking, CAD and to develop new training methods for simulations and problem solving. As part of their coursework, students must frequently hand-sketch 3-D images in 2-D. Traditionally, students sketched using a standard pen, then submitted their assignment on paper for grading and evaluation.

A New Way of Note Taking

Recently, the department began using the CrossPad, a portable digital notepad (PDN) to replace pen and paper for animation and mechanical engineering simulation projects. Terry Burton, associate professor of computer graphics and curriculum chair, discovered the CrossPad portable digital notepad in 1998 and introduced it to the department's 'Technical Sketching" class.

The CrossPad transforms how these Purdue students input, store, organize and share notes. They can write in ink using a special pen on a standard notepad and simultaneously create a digital copy of these notes. The CrossPad uses radio frequency (RF) technology to transmit the signal from the pen to the RF field beneath the pad, which converts and stores the signal in 1MB of flash ROM -- up to 50 pages of notes. When uploaded to their PC, the user's 'digital notes' can be filed, reorganized, searched by keyword or date, and e-mailed.

A Sharp Tool for the Classroom

Students use the CrossPad for virtually all their graphics and animation projects and as a graphic book to sketch, take notes and use as a reference for final exams. 'The CrossPad vastly improves visual notetaking in lectures, and lets me create digital copies of my notes and sketches, which can be manipulated, rotated and printed," explains Nathan Martz, a 19-year-old student. It also lets students save their diagrams in digital format and submit their assignments via the Internet for an instructor's review.

According to Burton, 'The CrossPad has become the Swiss army knife of our technical sketching course. It helps students creatively interface with computers. It d'esn't change or dictate the way we work on the front end and provides seamless integration of data into an electronic flow to use the other tools we are really good at," he continues. 'Its technology of capture is Ôone of a kind' and ideal for engaging simulations and problem solving."



Contact Information
Cross Pen Computing Group
(800) 510-9660


This article originally appeared in the 09/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.