Handwriting in a diary or reading from your journal notebook is a very emotional and intimate experience, greatly enhanced by the texture and flexing of the paper, the flipping of the pages with the associated sounds, the characteristics and thickness of the pen, the style and speed of writing and pausing, and even force applied to the pen. But what if we wanted to share such a moment with someone remotely, or if someone else wanted to share such a moment with us? With a flat, rigid, inorganic, pixel-based device, nearly all of those special characteristics of the experience and the magic of the moment would be lost. Could we convey everything without losing the magic? Could we create an experience similar to that in Harry Potter, where he is communicating with Tom Riddle through writing in his magic diary?

Harry Potter Magic Diary Scene

In this project we explore the possibility of shared, screen-free, reading and writing experiences over long distance via responsive, shape-changing notebooks. We investigate some of the ways through which we could convey some of the information associated with reading and writing that would be otherwise lost with a pixel-based device. We took two regular notebooks and augmented them with sensors and actuators, so that when a user performs an action on one of the notebooks, that action is reflected on the other, and vice versa, through corresponding actuation and shape change. Some of the interactions we explored were opening of the notebook cover, flipping of the pages, and pneumatic inflation of figures drawn on the notebook pages. More information about this project is available on the class website.

When the page of one notebook is bent of flipped, the page on the counterpart notebook is also raised accordingly.

Cover opening interaction

Pneumatic Inflation

I fabricated an ultrathin programmable actuator based on the Unimorph project from MIT's Tangible Media Group, by creating a composite structure of materials with widely different coefficients of linear thermal expansion.

Actuator traces were designed in Eagle

The design was printed in toner on a high-gloss photo paper

The traces were then transferred from the photo paper onto Pyralux material using a heat-based toner-transfer technique

The excess copper was etched in a chemical bath

Remaining copper pattern after etching

Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethilene was applied to the copper-free side of the Pyralux

To supply the high current necessary for driving the actuators, and to be able to program them, I also designed a shield for Arduino

Programmable Actuator Demonstration