Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Smart pen is a smart choice for writers and students

First we had the smart phone and now we have the smart pen. I love gadgets, especially my beloved Kindle, but it looks like I've been missing out on an important one for writers. Omar Gallaga at The Statesman says, "Livescribe digital pen a smart idea for writers and students." 
"The Livescribe pen can record audio while you write on specially coded "Dot Paper." You can transfer everything you write to software that allows you to see your words on-screen and to hear audio that is synced up. Tap on a part of your notes and the exact point in the audio that matches up with it plays. You can also play the audio back from the pen itself, which has a tiny screen and a speaker."
Not only can you sync writing to audio, you can also send the notes to services like Google Docs, email, or even Facebook. To entice even more, the "pencasts" (audio plus visuals of notes) can be viewed on my iPhone, or on an iPad (for those fortunate to own one of those lovely gadgets). Once your notes are uploaded, you don't even have to keep the paper copies.

Where oh where was this when I was in school? I was never very good at taking notes. It seemed the more detailed my notes the more I missed of what the professor said subsequently. And yet, who wants to sit through the lecture all over again by replaying the entire recording, just to find that brief point you half remember? This would solve that problem. I could jot down important points and use them to reference the relevant part of the lecture.

Today, I could see this as being applicable at work—for taking notes when I conduct newsletter interviews or attend meetings. However, as a state worker I'm not holding my breath. I added the Livescribe 4 GB Echo Smartpen to my Amazon Wish List for further research, or perhaps to be discovered by a hitherto-unknown rich relative.

Users do list a few drawbacks. You have to buy special Dot Paper. Some are not thrilled with how much thicker the Livescribe Smartpen is when compared to a regular pen. Apparently software, sold separately, to convert handwriting to typed text doesn't work very well. You can not use Livescribe to record phone interviews. It does not have wireless capability. The company shut down its app developer program. Hopefully the last point does not mark the death knell for this technology. I would love to see a version developed that addresses many of these issues.

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