Engineers and historians at the Museo Leonardiano di Vinci in Florence have built a 3D model of one of Leonardo’s sketches and concluded that it is a hand held sketch pad that records sketches without the need for a pencil or paintbrush.
Leonardo’s ingenious design uses tiny spinning gyroscopes to store information, each spinning in a different direction to hold one “pezzo” of the drawing.
The image was input into the pad using a pair of wheels that control the motion of the drawing line in different directions.
It is believe that the image was reset by simply shaking the pad to reset the internal gyroscopes. Unfortunately like many of Leonardo’s designs it was simply ahead of it’s time as the quality of bearings during his lifetime would have meant that his mechanical picture store would have quickly faded away.
However the museum now believes that it would be possible to build the device using carbon fibre ballbearings and are looking for backers to fund the project.