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What You Write is What You Get: Scribblenauts in Real Life

by Lambert Varias

Made by Steven Zhou and Syed Olmer Gilani of the National University of Singapore’s Interactive Multimedia Lab, What You Write Is What You Get (WYWIWYG) is a visual way of learning about language. Just like 5th Cell’s critically-acclaimed DS game Scribblenauts, WYWIWYG can analyze written words and come up with a virtual representation of the corresponding object.


Even the set-up is a bit DS-like. Users write on a whiteboard, using ordinary markers; a webcam then takes an image of the written word or phrase. The real magic is done by the software, which “analyzes the image and interprets the handwritten words into different output modalities.” In other words, what you write is what you get.


Unfortunately, the demo video doesn’t go into detail about the capabilities and the limitations of the software, like the number or kinds of languages it can interpret, the types of words (adjectives, proper nouns, adverbs, verbs) it can interpret, the number of words it can recognize, or if the virtual objects can be made to interact like in Scribblenauts.


Nevertheless, this is an awesome project, and preschool and elementary teachers will no doubt fall on their knees and cry buckets of joyous tears if and when WYWIWYG comes out, because it’s a clever way of capturing the attention of kids and motivating them to learn. After all, you can’t make green poop appear if you don’t know how to spell “green” and “poop”. You can watch the demo video at the Interactive Multimedia Lab’s website; be sure to check out their other projects as well.

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