Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Smart-Pens not Laptops Now Student's Best Pals?

Why didn't they have these when I was in school. If I fell asleep in class, my pen couldn't take notes for me. And what about those days I didn't go to class at all? Nowadays, I could have stayed in bed and just simply sent my pen to class for me. Not any pen, of course. The new Pulse Smartpen from Livescribe. It is a computer within a pen, and a digital recorder within a computer. So it's basically a freak pen, but a freak pen with a purpose.
Its job is to record what you are writing down on page (via a slow-motion camera) and also record what you are listening to (via a mike system). That way, come crunch time, you can easily go back and check your notes for accuracy. So, college co-eds, if your professor talks to fast, no worries. You can simply go back and fill in the holes in your notes by listening to the broadcast of the lecture.

When replaying, you can slow down, rewind, fast forward and even speed up the recording via the Smartpen Paper Replay function. Your freak, I mean smart, pen comes with special note paper, on the bottom of which are special Paper Replay "dot" controls. Touch your pen one of these dots to slow the recording down, for instance, or to increase the volume.

To hold all this data, the Smartpen has 1 to 2GB of storage. The 1GB model holds as many as 100 hours of recorded audio to be kept, or more than 16,000 pages of notes. Not only does the 2GB version double that space; it also leaves room for downloading any additional programs that will be designed down the road for platform.

And these apps will be coming. Livescribe has also launched a Developer Program so that programmers can develop and share new paper-based applications for this magical pen. Even users themselves could get into the mix, creating customized programs from the open codes and partaking of user community forums. Already in the works are Spanish translation systems, digital organizing systems, and an interactive Bible. Simply fantastic!

Other apps will serve to transcribe your written words into digital text, or to turn your handwriting into printed words that are legible. Some other future uses could be apps that help the visually impaired use the pen, or for using the pen with Braille.

But the wondrous Smartpens have plenty to offer already. Not only do they have the audio and visual storage capacity, they also come with dual microphones, an embedded speaker, a "3D recording headset," and software that allow you to do keyword searches through your notes and to store your notes and audio recordings on your laptop. They then appear just as they did on your paper but in digital form that you can post, along with the audio recording, online so all your friends can access them. Indeed, why take a notebook into the classroom at all when you can save your virtual class notes onto your Pulse Smartpen and upload them via usb when you get home? Did I call this pen a freak pen before? No, it's a magic pen.

And all this goes for just $149 for the 1GB pen, and $199 for the 2GB version.

Oops, what was that noise, you ask? I must have fallen asleep and started snoring ... my Smartpen must have kept writing this piece for me.

No comments: