Talking back the chalk

  • Published 19.11.03

Lecturers can use the pen to “virtually” write and draw on a screen or wall.

Modern forms of presentation such as Power Point can ble elegant and effective. But as an NTNU lecturer for 13 years, Tormod Njølstad began to tire of the static nature of the presentations, without any possibility of creativity. Njølstad wondered:

Could it be possible to bring the flexibility of the computer into the auditorium?

The result was the company New Index, along with several patents on a pen that functions like a chalk or a white board marker. Lecturers can use the pen to “virtually” write and draw on a screen or wall. A small camera placed close to the projector captures the pen’s movements, allowing any writing or drawing to appear on the screen the instant it is made.

The secret behind the system is a specially made camera that recognizes different patterns made by the pen.

Many such solutions already exist for education, meeting, and video conferencing presentations. But what makes Njølstad’s solution unique is its simplicity: it doesn’t need any electronics, batteries, or maintenance. Nor does it need special software, ultrasound, or magnetic systems to transfer the pen’s movements to the screen. The pen’s simplicity makes the system significantly less expensive than its competitors.

New Index was among the finalists in this year’s Venture Cup. The company is currently working with industrial partners to commercialize the product.