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Physics scribblings come to life

by Paul Jay, CBC News Online

It has been over two years since Microsoft first started offering its Physics Illustrator, based on research done alongside scientists at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology. But since Tablet PCs haven't exactly taken off like Bill Gates had hoped, few people have had a chance to see the software in action.

Thankfully, a couple of people on YouTube have posted a demonstration of what MIT calls the Assist Sketch Understanding System. It's very cool.

The technology is similar to that offered by "smart" white boards like those produced by Calgary-based company Smart Technologies Inc.

Beyond helping physics teachers in class, this kind of tool would be extremely useful for testing game design and engineering problems, especially if a 3D component can be integrated.

It's also exactly the kind of thing that might switch people from keyboards to touch-screen technology. Certainly, Apple is hoping touch-screens will take off with its new iPhone.

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