Microsoft announced on Friday that it has started rolling out a new handwritten notes-taking app, Plumbago, through its Garage. This new digital notebook application for Windows 8.1 and 10 tablets brings in tens of amazing features that could revolutionize the notes app genre.
Just last week, we reported the release of Fetch!, an app developed in the Microsoft Garage that can help you identify your dog and even have a little fun with your human friends. This app was just one of the major developments out of Microsoft Garage. In fact, the Garage is filled with thousands of concept-based products that deviate from Microsoft’s norm of services.
The Plumbago was developed by Larry Zitnick, who developed the handwriting beautification and ink rendering technology and others on Microsoft Research’s Advanced Development Team. This app is not just an experiment, according to Microsoft, but it is also something the company believes could do well with the customers.
The app was designed keeping Windows 8.1 and 10 based tablets in mind, specifically Microsoft’s very own Surface line. The main aim of the app was to make complete use of the stylus and touch-based inputs. The app contains realistic ink technology and other user friendly features, such as an optimized tool picker designed to reduce the number of taps to access its features, notebook covers and paper selector.
We were thinking about how to make a great experience that really took advantage of the Surface and its pen, and could replace a physical notebook. There are tactile, perceptive and visual properties about a real notebook that are hard to displace. So our goal was to create a neat Windows app using technology that could potentially displace those physical and perceptive artifacts,
says Gavin Jancke, general manager of engineering in Microsoft Research also serving as the user interface software engineer for the app.
So here we are today with something that will hopefully resonate well with consumers,
who he encourages to help test the experience and give feedback to refine the technology.
The app’s main attraction is a new technology called handwriting beautification. This is a technology, developed by Zitnick, which involves efficient stroke matching across the thousands of strokes written by a user. In case the app is able to find matching strokes, the strokes can be averaged to produce more consistent and easier-to-read handwriting.
In case you were wondering, Plumbago means graphite in Latin. Pencils, geddit?
Another awesome feature of the Garage-made app is infinite paper. This allows a single piece of writing or drawing to span pages. You can select between various different types of paper which resemble real notebook sheets. Also, the user can select the type of input he/she wants to give, whether its pencil, pen etc. The strokes depth is controlled by the pressure you apply on screen and the colour can also be changed.
The app was under development for almost 2 years now and it has finally landed into the Windows Store.
We thought the Garage would give us a space for a prototypical, unique experiment. The Garage is an outlet to try something new, and show off up-and-coming technologies,
User feedback will be incorporated into refining the technological and user experience aspects into potential future updates or find their way into different Microsoft products. The Garage gives us a nice sandbox and frames expectations, so users can see the future of innovation coming out of Microsoft as we experiment with different things.