Adobe XD explores the analog future

It was fun being on stage at MAX with David Wadhwani to share a few of the projects that we have been working on in XD. The team has been exploring how new form factor displays, new interactions (like touch and gesture), cloud connections and even new hardware might change how you all create and in turn how it might impact what software we need to build. And we have been having a serious amount of fun.

Although there are many explorations going on, we chose three to highlight. The first, Mighty, is our connected pen:

The Adobe "Project Mighty" Connected Pen

The Adobe “Project Mighty” Connected Pen

We actually started project Mighty, our “cloud pen” to help us focus on the future of drawing. I’ve always been a little obsessed with drawing. An early mentor of mine said: “If you can’t draw, you can’t think. I guess I took that to heart. The good news is that absolutely anyone can train himself or herself to draw. With the right tools to support you it’s a little bit like learning to ride a bike – you just have to keep doing it until you tease out your own style of drawing.

Mighty is pressure sensitive, which helps it draw a natural and expressive line. It is also connected to the Creative Cloud through the software and a local Bluetooth LE connection. We have used this connection to pull up Kuler themes and enable a “cloud clipboard” which gives you access to assets you have saved to the cloud for reuse.

Mighty was created with the help of Ammunition, the industrial design firm founded by Robert Brunner. They landed on a three-sided, twisted form that is inspired by the ergonomics of holding a pen. When a child struggles with writing, he or she is given a triangular grip that fits over the pencil. Our design takes that one step further by twisting the pen’s triangular form so that it also rests gently on the hand. It also yields a sculptural object that is both beautiful and distinct. There’s a lot of hardware technology involved in bringing a high tech pen like this to life, so we’ve been working with San Francisco-based MindTribe on the electrical and mechanical engineering.

Although we spend many hours a day behind the keyboard and mouse, we still often start the creative process as we did thousands of years ago with pen and paper. But with tablets and new input methods like Mighty, this is going to change – I am confident. Over the last year, my tablet has replaced my sketchbook. I never thought I would give up drawing in a moleskin sketchbook.

Our second exploration, code named Napoleon is complementary to Mighty. This digital ruler is designed to bring back some of the feeling of drawing with analog tools like the t-square and triangle. Adobe has been talking about building a physical drawing aid like this ever since we built our first digital drafting table, almost two years ago.

Adobe "Project Mighty" Connected Pen & Project Napoleon" Digital Ruler Working on iPad

Adobe “Project Mighty” Connected Pen & Project Napoleon” Digital Ruler Working on iPad

I was originally trained as an architect, and still find great comfort and confidence drawing with these tools. There is something about the confidence of drawing a line aided by a physical device – the tactile feedback you get as you move the straightedge around – as well as the fluidity and accuracy of drawing that comes from interacting with physical objects. Our little ruler (Napoleon, get it?) creates a digitally projected edge that you can use to accurately draw shapes and lines. It just feels right.

The Adobe "Project Napoleon" Digital Ruler

The Adobe “Project Napoleon” Digital Ruler

We are looking at a lot of potential features for Napoleon, but a favorite of mine is snapping to vanishing points. Imagine how easy it will be to sketch in perspective, when you can use the ruler to quickly create and then snap to perspective vanishing points that are well off screen.

Finally, Project Context is the most ambitious of the three explorations. I like to think of it as our answer to “big content.” You know, just like big data, but with images and text and video and the like. Most of us have experience with printing hundreds of images and trying to pin them all on the wall or spreading them on the floor just to try to figure out the big picture. This is another good example of how something was lost when we went from physical to digital. Somehow file folders full of assets, or tiled displays of images don’t quite cut it. We think that large screens with touch and gesture interaction paired with the appropriate software design are a way to not only get back what was lost, but to take the organizing and producing experience to a whole new level.

When combined with InDesign and the Digital Publishing Suite, Context creates an ideal editorial and publishing environment for Wired and other publishers. Context offers a powerful and intuitive way to grab assets from just about anywhere, and to collaboratively organize and eventually even edit and publish them. These exploratory projects stand a much better chance of becoming real shipping products when we work with a customer to build them. We have the good fortune to be working with WIRED to build out the first version of Context as a system to support the editorial and layout process for their magazine.

Digitally enabled, cloud connected physical devices leverage the best from both the digital and the analog worlds. They could enable whole new levels of creative productivity and artistic confidence – and one of the many innovation milestones that makes an Adobe incredible place to work.

Page 1 of 11

Comments

    May 06, 2013

    Janine lazur writes:

    interesting. curious if Mighty has a vector mode. and if not, what kind of resolution are the images it draws and what file format?

    May 06, 2013

    Hien D Khuu writes:

    I wait for this kind of device for so long, I mean its funtionality. It’s time to buy a tablet Hopefully, the device will be not very expensive.

    May 06, 2013

    Khalid writes:

    Amazing device. I love drawing & painting beside my jobs as an electronics engineer & a karate instructor. I believe this device will help to improve my skills and make it easier to draw on my iPad.
    When it will be available in the market?!

    May 06, 2013

    Khalid writes:

    Amazing device. I love drawing & painting beside my jobs as an electronics engineer & a karate instructor. I believe this device will help to improve my skills and make it easier to draw on my iPad.
    When it’s going to be available in the market?!

    May 07, 2013

    Artdeos writes:

    Great ! Finished tasks and erasures. Certainly, Napoleon was not finished talking to him…

    May 07, 2013

    Jean-Baptiste de Borman writes:

    I do not uderstand how this can work on iPad because pens on IPad are not precise. Will this work on Android Tablets like Samsung’s Note where there is a Wacom digitizer ?

    May 07, 2013

    Sky writes:

    availability?

    May 07, 2013

    faris writes:

    how do I buy this pen or tool ?

    May 07, 2013

    Jim writes:

    Interesting ideas, but, have are you using left handed people as part of your product development and evaluation group? The gentle twist given to the pen looks like a great idea for a right handed person, but it seems that when held by a left handed person it would make the product quite uncomfortable. Obviously I’ve not held one and am just trying to visualize the angles.

    Yes, I know us lefties are a minority, but please consider our needs as well when designing a product.

    May 07, 2013

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Jim, thanks for the feedback. We’ll definitely pass it along to the team.

    May 07, 2013

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Faris,

    These projects represent explorations, not product announcements, so it is not for purchase at this time.

    May 07, 2013

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi,

    Thanks for the interest. These projects represent explorations, not product announcements, so it is not for purchase at this time.

    May 07, 2013

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Thanks Khalid! We’re glad you like it. These projects represent explorations, not product announcements, so it is not for purchase at this time.

    May 07, 2013

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Janine,

    Mighty is a pen. The app that was used with Mighty in this demonstration is special version of Adobe Ideas, which is a vector based drawing app.

    May 07, 2013

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Jean,

    Project Mighty is designed to work on the iPad. This project represents an exploration, not a product announcement, so there aren’t plans for second platforms at this time.

    May 07, 2013

    Brian writes:

    I use the ideas app every day. I am right handed and anxiously awaiting production!

    May 08, 2013

    Christopher writes:

    I hope this pen can be used with non-adobe iPad apps. I would love to use it just for general writing and note taking on my iPad. I still haven’t found something that does that well. Also, I hope there’s some built-in way to prevent my wrist from causing unintended writing. Very cool!

    May 08, 2013

    Rick Johnson writes:

    Why does the tip of the pen need to be so wide, soft, and blunt (in the video — strangely, the concept photos don’t look like that)? That’s disappointing. I have noticed that on virtually all stylus tools for iPhone and iPad. I think it would feel more natural if the tip were small, firm, and pointed, like the stylus for the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Although I love this idea from Adobe, I don’t think I would buy the pen for that reason.

    May 09, 2013

    Mike writes:

    I agree with the left handed support comments. There are far too many people in the creative field who are left handed to ignore that via software setting.

    Another concern is that I would like the ability to rest my hand on a surface while drawing. I don’t draw holding the pen or pencil on the surface with my hand floating awkwardly above.

    Perhaps Adobe should look to exploring this hardware on other platforms rather than limiting itself to iOS.

    May 11, 2013

    Ahmed writes:

    Amazing! Cannot wait to get my hands on your product. Do you have any information when will it be released to the public? Will it support only iOS? Will it support any other platform? Like Windows tablets, Android ..etc. ?

    Thanks a lot.

    May 12, 2013

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Ahmed,

    We’re glad you like it! This project represents an exploration, not a product announcement, so there aren’t plans for second platforms at this time.

    May 19, 2013

    Joe writes:

    That has to be on sale

    May 19, 2013

    Joe writes:

    I liked so much, i like drawing and i need an ipad rule

    May 19, 2013

    alfredo writes:

    What are the differences and real advantages of project mighty pen againts the current bluetooth 4.0 digital products like pogo connect or adonit touch pro 4?

    May 19, 2013

    alfredo writes:

    I think that is a HUGE step for adobe, many people is waiting for powerful hardware to painting, drawing and sketching on tablets but we need to obtain a real advantage againts current technologies. Probably Napoleon should be the difference, however the screen of ipad only accept a few pressure sensitivity devices and apps are limitated by this disadvantage. In another hand, WACOM products are very strong pressure sensitive devices for PC/tablets/convertibles and other hybrids.

    May 19, 2013

    alfredo writes:

    Please Adobe, continue this challenging way. For example Creative Cloud is a excellent product that change my opportunity as student to learn about adobe products and access all the creative tools. I will buy Adobe hardware because i believe in your quality and innovative products.

    May 20, 2013

    Ricky Bobby writes:

    Why do you tease us with such beauty and no release date?
    :(

    May 20, 2013

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Alfredo,

    One of the key differences at the moment is that both Pogo Connect and Adonit Jot Touch are available now, whereas Mighty is a technology exploration with no release date at this time. Since it is still early for Mighty, we’re spending time looking into what the most important differentiating features may be. We do believe that a pen should both look and feel great, and that there is a lot of opportunity to think beyond just the marks on a screen. You can see examples of this in the demonstration of using Mighty to access content in Creative Cloud.

    June 18, 2013

    footstep002 writes:

    I think this has great potential, because not all tablets have the digitizer pen. And if this product gets to support not only ios, but android and windows, then no matter which tablet you use, or change to use, the user will always be able to use the same functioning pen.

    July 13, 2013

    Jeff Arcuri writes:

    The Kuler link in 3rd pp on this page pointed me to a bad page:

    http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2013/05/adobe-xd-explores-the-analog-future.html

    Cheers,
    -Jeff arcuri

    July 22, 2013

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Thanks for pointing this out, Jeff! We are working on updating it to the correct link.

    July 23, 2013

    Pooja Prasad writes:

    Hi Jeff, here’s the correct link which has been updated in the post as well: https://kuler.adobe.com/create/color-wheel/. Thanks again for pointing this out!

    July 28, 2013

    Jeremy James writes:

    I haven’t been this excited about a new tech product in a very long time. Leave it to Adobe to wake me up and get my motor revving!!

    As a designer and illustrator I’ve waited for a true marriage between tech and tried and true, pencil in hand drawing.

    As of now when I sit down to my computer to say…. Design a brochure for a client I typically grab the nearest art pad and pencil and start rough sketching. I find my creativity flows much more naturally this way. Once I’ve sketched a rough layout I have to take that from paper to screen. It seems like there has to be a better, more natural way to do this. It would seem adobe is on the right track with these new technologies.

    I long for a very seamless workflow. I want to sketch my ideas and go directly to final creation. I want to sit down with my client and, rather than pull out my clunky laptop, pull out a streamlined tablet where I can fire up an Adobe app, pull out my pen and start making changes on the fly, annotating, color changing, text, line, etc… All live for my client. An hour later I can grab lunch and sit under a tree reading, and when I’m finished pull out that same pen and start sketching in my cloud sketch book where I can use familiar tools such as paintbrush and watercolor.

    I hope that Adobe can pull us in this direction more creatively. Great work Adobe!! I’m curious, has there been any collaboration with Wacom considered since they have long been a major tool for Adobe products and have the years of technical know how. Also, I live in Utah where we have a new Adobe campus. Will there be a public Beta for these new products and if so how would I get involved?

    Thanks again for always keeping us on our toes.

    July 29, 2013

    karendo writes:

    Thanks for your excitement around Project Mighty, Jeremy. We’ve set up a web page for this technology exploration project where you can sign up to be alerted when more information is available: http://xdce.adobe.com/mighty

About this blog

Adobe

Welcome to Adobe Featured Blogs, a one-stop information and conversation destination for virtually anyone interested in what's going on at Adobe. Here you'll find the latest company and product news from Adobe's multiple lines of business. We value your perspective and encourage comments that are on-topic and add value but that do not spam, denigrate or offend. Read more