Adobe surprised everyone today by revealing the Projects Mighty and Napoleon prototypes at the Adobe Max conference in Los Angeles. The Mighty is Adobe's take on a cloud-connected stylus, while the Napoleon is a new kind of digital stencil; the projects are an attempt to digitise the creative workflow from pen and paper to stylus and tablet.
Mighty is a stylus which can connect to your Adobe Creative Cloud membership. Adobe showed that the Mighty stylus can not only draw on a tablet device, it can also pull up personalised settings from within an app, as well as files saved to the owner's Creative Cloud, and recognise your identity on multiple devices.
So you can sketch an object, say a flower on one tablet, using a colour swatch you saved to your Kuler account, save the flower to the Creative Cloud, then go to another tablet, download the saved flower, and paste it onto another sketch. The demo also showed that Adobe's app recognises the difference between a stylus and finger input, so you could draw using the stylus and use your free hand to do other things like tap to undo.
The other hardware prototype shown was codenamed Napoleon - because it looks like a short ruler. But you can do more than just draw straight lines with Napoleon, you can also use the device to do other things like draw perfect shapes. For example, when using the arc function, a circle appears on the tablet; when you use the Mighty stylus to trace the circle, the app makes the lines you draw a perfect arc; it's rather like a digital stencil for the tablet. Michael Gough, Vice President of Experience Design, said that they're working on a perspective snap tool, in which lines will automatically align to the perspective lines within a drawing.
When asked why Adobe is developing hardware, an Adobe representative said that Projects Mighty and Napoleon didn't evolve from a strategic decision to go into the hardware business. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said that Mighty and Napoleon were born when looking at the entire creative process, and realising that "using a mouse to draw is such an unnatural thing to do. We wanted to re-imagine the entire creative process and push the envelop."
Both devices are still in the development phase, and there are no concrete plans yet as to when or whether they will come to market. You can sign up to learn more about Projects Mighty and Napoleon at Adobe.