27 December 2016 - Sketchbook Motion, an app developed by Dr. Zhao Shengdong that allows users to add lively effects and subtle movements to still illustrations, has been named Apple’s Best iPad App of 2016.
The app features tools like Beeline, which makes disparate objects move along a path; Grow, which multiplies moving effects and also lets users animate specific elements to bend them in a specific direction; and Particle, which adds subtle movement like the Wind or Rain option to one’s drawings.
The development of Sketchbook Motion was based on a research paper written by Dr. Zhao, his former PhD student Dr. Rubaiat Habib, Dr. Fanny Chevalier from the University of Toronto, and Dr. Tovi Grossman and Dr. George Fitzmaurice from Autodesk Research. The paper, titled Draco: bringing life to illustrations with kinetic textures, was published in 2014. Dr. Zhao said that the initial idea of the project sprang from a discussion with Dr. Habib in late 2012 and early 2013. The development of the paper and project was subsequently conducted at Autodesk Research in Toronto, Canada in the summer of 2013, when Dr. Habib was an intern there. Dr. Zhao remotely collaborated with the team for this project.
Following the success of Sketchbook Motion, the group is currently working on several projects which include a tablet application to allow volunteers to effectively engage with dementia patients, a crowdsourcing task design tool, as well as innovative techniques to enhance the navigation experience of online educational videos.