FAQs About MIT’s Magic Paper/Assist Project

1) Can I download the code or the binaries for Assist/Magic Paper?

A) The original program developed at MIT is designed to work in concert with a commercial physics simulation program called WorkingModel 2D. The MIT code does all of the sketch interpretation, while WorkingModel does the physics simulation. Unfortunately, because WorkingModel is a commercial program, we cannot provide a download for it, and a license is very expensive. The MIT code without WorkingModel does only sketch interpretation, and hence is not an interesting program by itself. As an alternative, we provide a pointer to a program called Physics Illustrator (see below).

2) What’s the difference between Magic Paper and Physics Illustrator?

A: Physics Illustrator is a program developed under Microsoft’s sponsorship with assistance from the MIT research team as a partial re-implementation of Magic Paper. It has a considerably more refined graphical interface, and, more importantly, a built-in physics simulator, and as such is a self-contained demonstration of the ideas developed in Magic Paper. It is available here and will run on Tablet PCs only.

3) I don’t have a tablet PC, can I still run Physics Illustrator?

A: Yes, but in this case there are two differences. First, you need to download and install the Tablet PC SDK, available here. (The download page indicates that you’ll also need Visual Studio version 6, but this is only if you wish to write new code involving ink collection and processing. If you want only to run Physics Illustrator on a non-tablet PC, just download and install the SDK.) Second, you need a different version of Physics Illustrator, available here. Simply download this zip file and expand it into a directory of your choosing. You can then run Physics Illustrator by simply double-clicking on the file PhysicsIllustrator.exe (i.e., there is no further installation that needs to be done).
Note that the interface is designed for a Tablet PC, so the “cursor” is very difficult to see: with a tablet you know where you’re pointing because you can see the tip of the stylus; here you have to look carefully for the tiny dot. One way to find it is to hold down the left click and move the mouse; this will draw something, allowing you to find the cursor. Note also that the icon at the top right corner minimizes but does not exit; for that you need the File menu choice.

4) I would like to run Physics Illustrator on a SmartBoard (or other such interactive display). How can I do this?

A: The easiest way is to install Physics Illustrator on a Tablet PC and install the SmartBoard software on the PC. Set up the Board as an external display on the Tablet PC and set the SmartBoard software to treat stylus actions on the Board as mouse movements (not as annotation ink). Your drawing on the SmartBoard should now be interpreted by the Tablet PC as drawing on its screen.
If you don’t have a Tablet PC, set up an ordinary laptop as per FAQ #3 in order to get Physics Illustrator to run, then install and use the SmartBoard software as above.

5) When I try to run Physics Illustrator on a Vista PC, I get an error message indicating that it needs .NET Framework 1.1.4322. Doesn’t Vista already have a more recent version of .NET installed?

A: Yes, but unfortunately Physics Illustrator does need the older version of .NET. Fortunately you can install both of them on the same machine without a problem. Get the older version here.

6) Where can I get more information about Magic Paper?

A: Our website has a description of the projects we have developed, a large number of publications you can download, as well as some movies demonstrating the work. You can also watch a demonstration on YouTube, here.