This is one of those ingenious inventions that’s so simple, it’s amazing no one’s come up with it until now. A team of Art and Design students at the University of Michigan have created a prototype electronic doodle pad called the Scribble that animates your drawings. You simply hand-draw a series of successive images on it, then it runs them all together in a Flash-like cartoon. Why didn’t I think of that?

The Scribble has a touchscreen, and you draw on it with a plastic tip pen. Once you’ve drawn and saved your first image, the lines of that image change from black to grey. You can then draw your second image over the top of the first one, using its gray lines as a guide for the progression of your animation. When you’ve saved the second image, the lines of the first one will disappear, but the lines of the second will still be there to guide you as you draw the third. Get the idea?

Once you’ve drawn your whole sequence, the pad quickly plays them back in the order they were drawn, creating the illusion of movement. If you notice any mistakes, or want to add something, you can go back in and edit your work.

There’s also a built-in camera for stop-motion animation, should you wish to create your own version of Wallace and Grommit.

The team came up with the idea for the Scribble after meeting with a focus group of Grade 3 students, and asking them what sort of toy they’d like to get from Santa. The pad won its creators a $2,500 first prize in a toy design competition put on by UM’s College of Engineering.