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Printer

Random Movement Printing Technology 284

Posted by michael
from the color-by-numbers dept.
mszeto writes "For all those gadget lovers out there, here is a neat one. It's the worlds smallest printer[ed. note: no it isn't], and is Bluetooth enabled. Rub it over the page to print! Here are some more articles about it:"
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Random Movement Printing Technology

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  • by AtariDatacenter (31657) on Friday June 27, 2003 @11:31PM (#6317513)
    Is if this was adapted into a tattoo gun. Just wave it over the skin, and have a permanent (or temporary might be more marketable) tattoo placed on the body. Anything you can dream up or download could be printed onto the skin.

    This sounds really bad.
    In a good kinda way.
  • by Bowie J. Poag (16898) on Friday June 27, 2003 @11:32PM (#6317518) Homepage
    ..When I used to work for the Chemistry Department here at the local U, I got to listen in on alot of the conversations the chem geeks had about emerging technologies. One of them was a new form of electron microscopy..err, well maybe not *electron* microscopy specifically, but, a device for visualizing atomic-scale structures, and "printing" them.

    The "head" of this thing (a nanoprinter?) used the vibrations of nearby atoms to move...The vibrations were tracked by a controller of some sort, and if the head was bouncing around at just the right angle, they'd "print" an atom onto a surface. I was told this was how they made those famous pictures where individual atoms could be precisely lined up on a surface to show letters or numbers.. I remember IBM doing this sort of thing with Xenon atoms back in the late 80's or early 90's.

    So, nyah. WOrld's smallest printer my ass! :) I've seen atomic printers, baby!
  • by Derg (557233) <alex.nunley@gmail.com> on Friday June 27, 2003 @11:33PM (#6317520) Journal
    then wheres the proof? That editors note is rather convenient, but it doesnt prove anything, which is easily done by providing a link or two to sources of smaller devices.

    I looked at the links, and from my brief once over, it looks pretty cool, I just cant figure out how the device knows with respect to the media, where it is and accurately enough to print without mucho mucho problemo's
    • then wheres the proof? That editors note is rather convenient, but it doesnt prove anything [note: yes it does] , which is easily done by providing a link or two to sources of smaller devices.

      Just kidding. Google doesn't know for sure what the world's smallest printer is, but here [citizen.co.uk], here [helper-monkey.net], here [howard.co.kr] and here [mobilemag.com] are a couple possibilities. Really convincing is the line "World's smallest printer IN THE WORLD!"

      Hope I've helped.

      • Yeah, there's a different World's Smallest Printer, but we sent it to Mars, so it's not in the world anymore, and we forgot how to make it. That's why there's this big push to go to Mars, it's to get our printer back.
    • by jc42 (318812) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @08:44AM (#6319073) Homepage Journal
      ... was how, in the demo movie, it seemed to know where the print head was going to be, and made the text appear there just before the printer passed over the spot.

      That is truly impressive tracking technology.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2003 @11:36PM (#6317535)
    I bet I could still manage a paper jam.
  • by gotr00t (563828) on Friday June 27, 2003 @11:40PM (#6317556) Journal
    If the movement is so "random", then I just have one question after visiting the site and witnessing their really "non-technical" movie about how it "works". It looks like the animated dude's arm is moving in random directions, to be expected, but he just literally zips that thing right across the paper, and it didn't smear or cause streaks on the page.

    Frankly, I find it hard to believe that on this system, you can move it THAT fast. There MUST be some limitations to how fast you can move it, as the print heads can't possibly respond soooo quickily.

    • That's the limitation on speed.
    • by Greger47 (516305) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @02:10AM (#6318179)
      I've actually played with one of these printers at an exhibition in Sweden over a year and a half ago.

      You could swipe it around in about the same speed as you would an ordinary mouse. To fast and the output got lighter bacause of increased distance between the dots (it was possible to go back and "fill in" color to get dark output again).

      The quality of the output was somewhere bewteen a matrix printer and an inkjet.

      It was also a tad large, maby 3 times the volume of a regular mouse.

      Ofcourse I expect them to have improved it since then, and if thay arn't going to introduce it on the market untill 2005 I guess it comes with a built in coffe machine by then...
    • The product will be available "early 2005" [pdacortex.com]. For all we know, they're using the "flying car"/ "disposable phone"/ cool idea gimmick to con money [stockpatrol.com] out of gullible investors [geek.com].

      I know one of the articles said they had a working prototype last year, but I wouldn't be surprised if both wow-com.com and pdacortex.com reprinted the company press release without checking any of the facts.

    • Modern inkjet print heads have at least 1200x1200 dots per inch, so if an 8x10 can be finished in 2 minutes, the heads can spray nearly a million dots per second, covering 3/4" of surface area. If the print head is 1/4" in area and the optical sensors are fine enough, you could move the head at 3" per second. That seems pretty quick. I have no idea how it relates to the actual device though.
  • by Tetravus (79831) on Friday June 27, 2003 @11:40PM (#6317558) Homepage
    What do you guys think? This looks like the first killer app for bluetooth to me.

    Imagine being able to print hardcopy contracts or directions on demand... though, the flexibility of the device to deal with different paper surfaces will be crucial to its widespread adoption.

    ~Tetravus
  • I went digging through the site while it's still up and I can't figure it out. There's a flash demo and it shows someone just waving this thing about the size of a mouse all over the paper and the print magically appears. And it's supposed to write on any surface. How in the world can it know where the print? .... Unless maybe you are supposed to start in the direct center of where the image is supposed to be and then it tracks from there I guess? In any case, I WANT ONE! And this is the first compute
    • Re:How does it work? (Score:2, Informative)

      by onco_p53 (231322)
      And the Flash is a FAKE! look carefully and you can see the text appear before the device gos over it.

      • And the Flash is a FAKE!

        Yes, becasue this is just a concept, not a product. They have developed a technology that includes a tracking chip (seems to be optical). They are touting for printer manufacturers to actually make a printer. So don't look to buy one for a couple of years, if ever.

    • In theory you'ld make it so the first stroke with it is from the top right/left/whatever corner, then any future strokes need to overlap other strokes.. and then in each stroke there's some sort of "random" scatter which tells the device where it is on the page..

      I don't know how this thing works, but this is how I'd do it :)
      • Or require the user to never lift off of the page, and just using the natural scatter available on the paper/cardboard to orient yourself constantly.
    • by pompousjerk (210156) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:05AM (#6317690)
      "I can't figure it out."
      "[Wave] something the size of a mouse and the print magically appears"
      "How in the world can it know where [to] print?"
      "I WANT ONE!...I think [this] company is going to make zillions."

      Gentlemen, I believe that this post pretty much encapsulates all of consumerism in those phrases. No matter how much doubt there is, "OMG, that's so spiff!" often takes over.

      Like those shitty products on infomercials that you know won't do anything worthwhile, but look damn spiffy up on the screen...

      Impressive.
      • My goodness. You nailed me on that one! Looking again I can hardly believe I wrote that. I thought I was immune. I even have mod points and would mod you up but can't cause you're replying to my post.
    • Re:How does it work? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hbackert (45117) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:08AM (#6317972) Homepage

      How in the world can it know where the print? .... Unless maybe you are supposed to start in the direct center of where the image is supposed to be and then it tracks from there I guess?

      Good point. Can be solved however by making the device aware of the paper. Thus you'd move to the corners of the paper (even a while paper on a white surface should be ok, as there is a contrast difference visible) and as long as you don't lift the printer thing up, the printer is able to find out your relative position on the sheet.

      This will not work on very large surfaces. Or spheres. My guess is, you push a button where it's supposed to start printing. And you click again to make sure the printer knows where "right" is. Or "down" or "left" in other languages.

      What interrests me most is how you can swipe over a freshly printed surface without making a mess, unless they limit surface-ink combinations. Only if the printer thingy touches the surface on the lower, yet unprinted part of the paper, then it would not smear as it does not touch the upper part. The "random movement" becomes less random that way though.

      All in all, a nice idea, even given some limitations like randomness of movement, special fast drying ink, limited surfaces.

    • http://www.pdacortex.com/printdreams.htm
  • cool idea (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2003 @11:42PM (#6317573)
    Just take one of those mini RC cars, add an ink jet and a blue tooth interface and you could have a printer the size of matchbook.

    It would be slow, but you could just set a piece of paper on a flat surface and have your laptop/pda "drive" the printer over the paper squirting out ink where needed.

    Plus. if you needed a faster printer, imagine a beow... never mind
  • Hmmm.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pig Hogger (10379) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `reggoh.gip'> on Friday June 27, 2003 @11:43PM (#6317577) Journal
    I wonder if the ink will leak if you shake it too much...
  • I had an idea very similar to this at work the other night(I work alone overnight sometimes when the store is closed, so I have a lot of time to think). It was basically a bigger version of this, about the size of a paint roller. Anyway, it would have a wheel on each end of the roller that would detect movement. It would have several paint(or ink or whatever) nozzles along it. When you roll it along a surface it would detect how fast and how far it is moving and how much it is turning and it would shoot
  • The principle of generating small amounts of finite printing by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Bambleweeny 57 Sub-Meson Brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong Brownian Motion producer (say a nice hot cup of tea) is now well understood - and such generators are probably going to be used to break the ice at parties by printing embarassing messages on the hostess's dress, in accordance with the Theory of Indeterminacy.
    Many respectable physicists said that they aren't going to stand for this - partly because it is a debasement of science, but mostly because they don't get invited to those sort of parties.
    Another thing they won't stand is the perpetual failure they encountered in trying to construct a machine which could generate the infinite distance printer needed to print mind-paralysing distances between the furthest stars, and in the end they will probably announced that such a machine is virtually impossible.
  • Wow! I just can't wait to see this policeman writing my parking ticket in seconds! Talk about getting them by mail!!

    but... wait

    now he can print the ticket IN my car! Amazing
  • by netsharc (195805) on Friday June 27, 2003 @11:49PM (#6317613)
    Well, why isn't it? is it a hoax, does it really print or is the Tomshardware review gonna tell us how much of a bitch it is to use but you're not mentioning it, Mr. "ed"?

    Until then I'll just ignore ed's comment, and say, this will probably be the next thing after Palm Pilots that will be added to standard management's attire.. but how fucking annoying, now they'll put every little thing in print.. I can just imagine it.. PHB scribbles something with graffiti, taps the screen a few times to get Bluetooth working, oh wait, turn on the printer to get its Bluetooth in listening mode (hopefully it still has enough ink), alright, tap "Transfer Data", and then rubs the printer over a piece of paper to produce a note to remind you about the TPS reports, meanwhile the Post-It pad and pen gather dust in his drawers.
  • The real breakthrough with this printer is not that it's the smallest around:

    its the first unjammable printer!
  • Without actually reading the information (I am a Slashdot user after all), it looks to me like this thing is just a mouse that prints. It recognizes positional (including rotational) information and spews dots accordingly. It's cute, but it's not like they've invented a fantastic new technology. Why it can't hit the market before 2005 (their estimate) is beyond me.
    • by zanderredux (564003) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:17AM (#6317753)
      Guess it's another stupid IP-only company, just as Celera Genomics is.

      They expect some other big manufacturer to take the challenge of making the technology viable for mass production while they sit and wait for the IP-rights cheques to arrive!

      • A suprising number of products start this way. This company seems to have a marketing department going at it full force already, though, which is a questionable move since it may harm any OEM's they eventually get a contract with. I wouldn't lump them in with Celera and call them stupid though. Obviously, they don't have the expertese, funds, or experience to ramp this thing up for themselves, so they're taking bids on someone else to pick it up. It's a win-win-win thing. They make money from their inventio
    • "Wait! That is not a mou.........never mind. too late."
  • My best guess on how it works is very much like an optical mouse except that it can record rotation as well (every spin your optical mouse? if you do it just right, the pointer doesnt move). My guess also, is that you can't lift your hand once your start printing and that whatever orientation the printer is originally at is how the orientation of the image will be. It's really not a complicated technology in my view (not to say it wasn't difficult to implement, just that the idea is simple). I wonder if
  • by dbc (135354) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:00AM (#6317669)
    Quoting company representative: "We are expecting the first RMPT based printer products to be launched on the market early 2005"

    This is not real yet. These guys are still pulling back the foreskin of technology. Call me back when it is on the shelf at Fry's.
  • Shucks! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:06AM (#6317693)
    We are expecting the first RMPT based printer products to be launched on the market early 2005" says CEO PrintDreams Jan Erik Hedborg.

    Seems like a great idea but, based on this quote, it is all just vapourware right now.

  • Imagine, now, instead of the scratchy scrawl you write on the bathroom walls now, you can not only print the number but also a picture of your roommate's girlfriend.

    Admit it - you were always jealous he usually had one. Could be because he didn't go into computers...

    -Adam
  • but that is patentable.

    Practical, maybe. Patentable, sure.
  • Combine this with a pda bacode scanner and you can print new barcodes at Walmart on the fly. Scan the crap model, put a blank label on the nice one,(still not illegal??) then print your new barcode. (ILLEGAL)

    Good way to pick up chicks - wave your hand with the printer concealed in it over a bar napkin and hand her your magically appearing phone number and a dirty limerick (ok, no limerick)

    Label everything you own - roomies will no longer be able to claim the beer/CD/toliet paper wasn't yours.

    Print up fake parking tickets for random cars.

    This would rock for labeling CDRs - I might actually do it with this thing.

    Add mystery "ingredients" to grocery store items. "What the hell is lead sucrose doing in these hot dogs?"

    Graffiti made easy! Free Mumia, Impeach Bush, Repeal the 1st Amendment - easy as a wave of your hand! No incriminating paint can or marker!

    Print barcodes on unsuspecting foreheads - "Hold on, I think there's a bee in your hair..." - Just for fun. For now......

    Add inappropriate menu items at your favorite resturant. "Baby Seal and Carrots?!! WAITER!!!"

    Fake classifieds - "Dude, what's this about you selling the state's largest used children's undies collection? Your name, phone number and everything!!"

    Hide small notes on the bathroom walls in strategic places - "If you can read this, you're poopin'"

    Quick name tags for people - don't worry, it'll wash off! Frankly, this thing is cool and sounds like fun - it may even be useful for labeling things, or handing out info. Of course, it will probably be priced too high for most people who would actually use it. It will probably be good for manufacturing, labeling parts and other irregular things.

    Just remember, you read it on K5.

  • ...based on their proprietary technology.

    Oh, like a monopoly.

  • ...it'll leak in your pocket, making it just as messy as a pen.
  • by thynk (653762) <slashdot@@@thynk...us> on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:30AM (#6317815) Homepage Journal
    who read RMPT as RTFM at first glance? Only I guess with this, PTFM might fit better.
  • if the motion sensing thing skips ever so slightly, the output will be fubar'd, so i don't think this is a very good idea.
  • This has been done before for scanners. On the printer side, the PenMan plotter and the GraffitiWriter [appliedautonomy.com] are the closest devices I know of.

    The measurement precision required to make this work well is quite high. I look forward to seeing it work.

  • Give this a couple years development...

    Temporary tattoos on demand
    Want a mural for your wall, but can't paint? Grab an image off the web and go for it.
    CD labeling
    Coffee shop business meeting. Beam that database diagram directly from your laptop to the napkin. No more illegible chicken scratch.

    Custom paint jobs on anything

    This is one of the very few gadgets here on /. that I'd actually buy.
  • by Nicodemus (19510) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:25AM (#6318039) Homepage
    So does this work like the paint buckets in old cartoons, where you can paint a whole picture with the swipe of a single brush?

    /me quickly paints a picture of a tunnel on a blank wall.

    =)

    Nicodemuis

  • If this invention doesn't wipe out handwriting [slashdot.org], nothing will...
  • Advertisment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 28, 2003 @01:47AM (#6318110)
    I can see people using these to bomb ads all over, on everything from school posters to that ugly shaved cat up the street.

    Personally I think I'd use it to print clever things on the back of bills when I go out. Perhaps comments on service quickly typed out on the PDA and then printed in detail. Instant gospel message too.

    This would be great for actually getting that information OUT of that PDA to people who don't have one, forget beaming a business card, print it on their hand, ok not exactly professional.
  • So if the tracking worked perfectly, it seems that it would still be only relative position that it senses. How do you get the thing aligned to print square with respect to any piece of paper? Some long pre-printing alignment calibration for every sheet?
  • by sploxx (622853)
    I would by one, if I only had enough money :( Like all the other toys which are usable but essentially superfluos. But maybe I should not complain, studying physics to get my hands on knobs of interesting, expensive and cool toys at work time ;)
  • It's called a Lexmark, and it does lots of random movements with my paper...

  • This will really improve my graffiti.

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