Brown University and Microsoft Research are planning a joint effort to create the Microsoft Center for Research on Pen-Centric Computing, which will promote and fund research aimed at improving pen-based operation of Tablet PCs, Pocket PCs, electronic whiteboards and conventional desktop computers.
The center is the first academic research program in the USA dedicated to pen-centric computing development and research.
Through the three-year joint research and education alliance, Microsoft Research and Brown University will explore and develop new ways to use pen-like styluses to operate computing devices. Under the alliance, Microsoft Research will invest US$1.2 million over the next three years.
Researchers at Brown will investigate new ways for computers to recognize and interpret handwritten input. Faculty, students and research staff will also create and test new software that recognizes notations in mathematics, chemistry, art and design, and other fields that have well-developed notational styles. The software would allow the data to be stored as digital ink and shared as handwriting, sketches or text.
Andries van Dam, Brown’s vice president for research and a founding member and first chair of the department of computer science, will serve as director of the new center. “In some cases, the pen is mightier than the keyboard,” van Dam said. “Chemists and composers, archeologists and artists all need pen and paper to create and communicate. We want to help them do their work digitally — in a way that is as easy and natural as drawing on paper.”
Brown has been an early pioneer in pen-based computing. For more than a decade, Brown researchers have designed and tested gesture-recognition software, including prototype applications that recognize music, mathematics and chemistry notations. Microsoft has provided partial funding for these initial efforts.