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Handwriting Recognition System

Handwriting Recognition System

We have designed and implemented a Handwriting Recognition System using a touch screen from a Palm Pilot m125, a black and white TV and a Mega32 microcontroller.
This project is highly adaptive. With sophisticated algorithm, it should be able detect any patterns. In our project, however, we choose to use a simple algorithm, Nearest Neighborhood Algorithm, as we have very limited amount of time. Thus far it can only recognize simple characters but it is easily extensible.

There are essential two three parts to this project, data acquisition via touch screen, Recognition Algorithm and Video Generation.

1. Data Acquisition

After reading through the Palm-PPP project, we realized that touch screen was not that hard to use. The device driver, therefore, should be an easy thing to write.However, it is not the case as they stated. As mentioned in Palm-PPP project, the touch screen has four pins, each connected to top, right, bottom, and left side of the screen. It is also correctly stated as a purely analog device that detects position by varying resistance between two pairs of pins (top and bottom, left and right). They claim that the touch screen has very low resolution (and it is not even linear).

We determined early on that the touch screen’s analog output did not have a high enough resolution or linear relationship to obtain precise and intricate motions.


Their game therefore divides the screen to only four blocks, four giant pixels essentially. They only need to detect which of the four blocks a stylus touches on. This is simply not true that you can’t better motions beyond four giant pixels as I have used Palm m125 to stretch arbitrary curves and it works pretty works tracing my stylus movements. Either engineers at Palm use some really crazy non-linear interpolating algorithm to magically compensate the shortcomings of their touch screens or the touch screen must be linear and very easy to deal with. We prefer the later scenario. We also believe that linearity is a safe bet. There must be something that they have done wrong.

Initially, the four pins’ behaviors are described as bizarre at best. For one setting, moving in direction, the voltages at different pins will change simultaneously. There seem not to be any independence between pins corresponding to any direction. In some random scenario, two pins will behave in exactly the same way, able to detect movement in, say, X direction, while any Y direction movement is completely ignored. We ‘swap’ the pin settings for detecting X position and were only overjoyed to find that we were able to isolate Y position as well. We realize that it is possible to isolate the movement in one direction, or another, but not both.

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