5/06/2013 @ 9:12PM
Adobe Rethinks The Power Of The Pen With Project Mighty
At the Adobe MAX Conference today, the Creative Cloud was not the only news. It turns out that Michael Gough, VP of Experience for Adobe, has been leading his XD team in an exploration of, among other things, the future of the pen. When he really wants to think visually, Gough, like many creatives, reaches for a pen. Pen and paper are fast, immediate and intimate, but can’t take advantage of all of the digital goodness up there in the cloud.
What to do? Design a cloud-enabled personal pen that can use tablets as paper, of course. And that is just what they have done with Project Mighty. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but Mighty cuts the ordinary pen down to size as well. Not only can it capture a beautiful flowing line (assuming you can draw that well!) but you can use your other hand to erase, undo, redo and scale. And since the pen is connected to your Adobe Creative Cloud account (of course) its button can call up a menu of your color palettes from Kuler, line weights, brush styles or your personal clipboard.
Gough says he has been using prototypes of this device for the past year exclusively and can do everything and more that he used to do with an ordinary pen. The XD group has also developed a prototype for a (very short) ruler called Napoleon (double pun there, if you’re keeping score.) This gives you even more to do with your other hand, making it easy to draw straight lines, perfect arcs and circles, right angles and more, “freehand.”
Adobe is not saying when such a device will actually be produced. I don’t get the feeling it really wants to go into the hardware business. But as it pushes creatives in the digital direction, it also wants to allow for the analog capabilities that they enjoy as well. More than anything else, Project Mighty is a demonstration of how hardware and software can work together with cloud services to make really useful products.
And the difference between this and an independent Kickstarter (which, frankly, this project resembles) is that it hooks into a user’s Creative Cloud identity. You don’t have to elaborately program Mighty because it already knows so much about your preferences from your CC account. To developers, I think this is intended as a prod to think about ways to build Adobe’s new open APIs into useful products. More than wanting to produce such things itself, I think it is in keeping with Adobe’s other motivations to want to enable others to create an ecosystem of such tools.
Within the framework of Creative Cloud, a simple device like the Mighty pen becomes very powerful and useful. The combination of the cloud and identity can create a lot of context for simple tools, whether they be hardware, like a pen, or software, like an app. In this case, with only pressure-sensitive input and a single button, the Mighty can accomplish some very sophisticated tasks. The software that allows the pen to interact with a tablet could be extended by developers to have all sorts of additional capabilities without requiring any change to the hardware itself. Sounds more like an invitation to developers than a product that will hit the shelves any time soon, but you never know. Those Kickstarters work pretty fast!