FanPost

OT: Pulse Smartpen

When I saw the ad for this product here, I just had to post about it.

This is absolutely amazing technology.  Check out the demo videos at www.livescribe.com.  This is the adult version of the Fly Pen that is targeted at kids.  The pen's sweet spot is aimed mainly, I think, at college students, but they are also marketing it at business people because it would work fine in business settings, like at a conference or business meeting. 

Basically anywhere you need to write down notes from a speaker, but sometimes (often on my part) miss something interesting or perhaps even can't hear that well.

 

I just got mine yesterday.  The technology basically links up an audio recording with the text you write on their special paper which is encoded with tiny dots (giving the paper an off-white color) that has a unique pattern such that the computer, using the tiny camera near the tip of your pen, knows which sheet of which notebook you are writing on.  Both are electronically recorded so that you can post both of them on-line to share with others.  That includes the words and graphs and other drawings you make on the notebook - once you start the recording.

I haven't used it yet in a live circumstance.  But the demos they have are awesome.  WIth the pen they provide headphone/microphones so that you can record in 3D sound.  I haven't heard this in action yet, though.

So, how it works is that you start the recording by tapping the pen on the special encoded drawing of the Record command button at the bottom of the page (all basic controls that you would expect of any recording and playback device is printed at the bottom of every sheet).  Then, as you write down your notes, including drawings, it records the audio as well.  When you are done you click on the Stop button.  Now the fun begins.

Now lets say you remember that at one point the speaker said something you know you didn't write down, at a chart you drew in your notes.  You click on the chart (or word you know you were at in your notes) and the pen's speaker will boom out to you the recording starting from that point.   Like any recording, you can start, stop, jump around (fast forward/backward), even replay last 10 seconds.  All so that you can catch every word said.

Another neat feature, which they claim but I haven't verified yet based on my own crappy handwriting, but it is suppose to be able to search on your written notes for words.  That way, you don't have to flip your pages to search, you just use the computer.

Which brings me to another thing.  Obviously, you can't do much to the content with a pen interface and a tiny OLED screen on the pen, so they have a dock that downloads all your Sessions to your computer.  Once it is on the computer, that is when you can do the search of your notes. 

And they also give you space to download your Sessions on-line and share with others.  And you are suppose to be able to use the pen to click on the screen (I guess you switch to a stylus at that point so you don't ruin your screen) as if it was your actual notebook and do the same replay of the audio at that point of the notebook.

They have also provided printed interfaces to a calculator, with scientific, statistical, and financial functions, to a keyboard (not sure what that is for yet), and to a piano application where you can draw out the keys on a piece of paper and then can "play" your piano by tapping on the keys you just drew out.  But that is it for now, though they plan on having other applications available for sale in the future, perhaps by other companies/people creating applications for the pen (that is their hope at least). 

Reportedly, they at some point will allow you to be able to print out the note paper on a printer, which will kill some of their business selling notebooks, so I can see why they are delayed in releasing that.  In addition, they have promised a translation application that can take your written word and provide you a translation into another language, which you can hear off the pen. 

Now, one negative I found on-line while investigating this product, and it is kind of puzzling they didn't deal with it, but the pen has no clip or anything that will prevent the pen from rolling off the table.  It is a round cylinder and it will roll.  Some reviewers were down on that, but the company does provide a pen holder case that you can stick your pen in, plus if you attach the headphone to the top, that also helps stop it from rolling.  But yeah, I can see it being an inconvenience,

Another negative is that there is currently no way to go beyond the notebook they provide and the 4 pack spiral notebooks they sell.  Each notebook has a color and unique identifier, but if you bought another set, when you write in the, say, red notebook, your old notes for the red notebook will get written over with your new notes, giving you double notes overwriting each other.  I assume they will get this fixed at some point, otherwise you would have to delete all your old notes in order to move to a new set of 4 spiral notebooks.  Also, if you have 5 classes that you need to take notes for, you are out of luck. 

For $150 for a 1Gig SmartPen, $199 for 2Gig, that is a pretty good price for the technology I think.  Plus $20 for a 4 pack of spiral notebooks, $25 for 2 pack of journals (hardbound), $6 for extra pen ink cartridges.  But you do start off with one notebook and two spare ink refills, so you can wait a bit before getting the rest if you want.

I normally don't buy first generation technology, but I am obsessive about note taking so I am hoping this will help me catch every word in my meetings.  They had promised 3-4 weeks for delivery but they basically sent me mine in a little over 2 weeks, which I think is pretty good;  people had been complaining on-line about slow delivery, but I was very satisfied, though it would have been nice if they sent me an e-mail notifiying me it was shipped.  However, they did provide a tracking function on-line that I didn't notice until after I got the pen, so it is up to you to check periodically.

This FanPost is reader-generated, and it does not necessarily reflect the views of McCovey Chronicles. If the author uses filler to achieve the minimum word requirement, a moderator may edit the FanPost for his or her own amusement.

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