maksim | 6:05 am | January 29, 2008 | Laptop Accessories
On the scale of things that define us as civilized, writing comes first. You can eat with your feet, use bathtub as a toilet, and walk around in crocodile skin skirt- all these are mere eccentricities compared to social death of somebody who can’t use a pen.
Today, of course, most of us hardly ever write. But similarly, some of us hardly ever unclip other people’s bras. Skills like these are like sniper shots - rare to use, but are the ones that need to be executed with effortless perfection when the time comes.
What keeps the skill of writing alive in a battle against qwerty is its simplicity- nothing can beat a clear white sheet and a pen. What kills it is the inability to edit and store text in digital format, something that only a keyboard can offer.
Pulse Smartpen by Lightscribe is an attempt to stop the war, and teach the pen how to type. Written text can be converted into digital format, and what is even more striking, the pen can record sound and synchronize it to the writing. Sounds weird and overdone? Here is what it can do.
The pen has a tiny infrared camera on its tip, and everything is recorded on 1gb of inbuilt memory. It needs special paper to write on, but the cost is similar to the cost of regular paper. Notes can later be transferred to a PC and also uploaded online, there is a dedicated account with 250mb of free storage for every registered user. Files can be shared between users, which can be very useful for students exchanging lecture notes.
Smartpen has a built in voice recorder that times audio with writing. Later, the sheet can be tapped at any part of written text and the pen will start audio playback at the point when this particular text was written. Students revising a course before an exam can quickly clarify the meaning of some hastily scribbled term- by tapping a term the pen will start playback of the lecture at the time the term was discussed. Journalists can conduct interviews as it was done before, with pen and paper, and later playback specific extracts of the conversation by touching shorthand notes.
Higher quality audio recording can be done with a 3D recording headset that both records and plays sound. Each earbud contains a microphone that records audio separately, perfect for far-field recording and noisy environments.
Development of third-party software is encouraged, which means that there will be more possible applications of the Smartpen as soon as it is officially rolled out in March. One that is likely to be on the list is text recognition software customised to specific handwriting and language. Which should make converting your handwriting to typed text easy.
Combining simplicity of a pen, recyclability of digital text and accuracy of recorded voice is an exciting idea. And if it works as well as it sounds the skill of handwriting will not be forgotten any time soon.