reMarkable: Digitization without Pixels

The “reMarkable” tablet purports to replicate the feel of drawing, reading, and writing on a paper surface – on a digital device. Click on the video below for a brief description from the company:

There is nothing novel about the concept behind this device. The marketability of this tablet suggests that something has been lost in the attempt to replicate the experience of writing with a pen, pencil, and paper. In his intro to this unit, Professor Irvine says that “we most commonly use digital media to simulate, emulate, or reproduce the experience of analog media, that is, representing symbolic forms that can be created and received by human senses and perceptual organs.” (Irvine, Key Design Concepts for Interactive Interfaces and Digital Media).

What differentiates this tablet from another with a  traditional pixelated screen is simply a difference in how we are able to convert our input into a legible mark on the screen, and how our eyes are able to see it. While the video above is a marketing video, it does provide some useful insight into how these differences play out starting at the 1:10 mark. Whereas traditional screens are visualizing content by lighting up millions of pixels to replicate the image, this particular tablet is magnetizing a synthetic ink to the screen surface, allowing natural light to reflect off of it.

Presumably, the input process is simply indicating where on the screen to magnetize that ink. Whereas a normal pen would release ink from the tip of the pen, in this case, the pen is indicating on the surface where the device should attach ink from the other side.

I was not able to figure out how or if the device converts that input into a digital format, as the device is capable of exporting drawings into common formats such as pdf or other image formats. That would be my question for the class, and/or Professor Irvine.

 

Sources

Lev Manovich, Software Takes Command, pp. 55-239; and Conclusion.

Martin Irvine, Key Design Concepts for Interactive Interfaces and Digital Media

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog-to-digital_converter

https://remarkable.com/