Smart Pen

April 30, 2003

Over the past 25 years, there have, according to Dr Saward, been three distinct phases in personal computing: the desktop computer, the notebook computer and the personal digital assistant, with each product set being smaller than its predecessor. During 2003 there will be a new fourth generation: the Smart Pen – a computer built into a pen. To date four Smart Pens have been launched commercially. The picture shows the io from Logitech, the global manufacturer of PC and mobile phone accessories. The software has been developed using the Microsoft NET platform, ie the applications are IP-enabled for use over intranets and the Internet.

The io was developed using award-winning technology from Anoto. The Logitech io pen will allow users to share, store, organise and retrieve their handwritten information by simply writing with ink on paper the way they have for thousands of years. A video camera embedded in the pen captures the handwritten images, storing up to 40 pages in memory. This captured digital information can then be transferred into the PC by synching the Smart Pen automatically using a USB electronic inkwell, which also charges the io when not in use.

The io works in cooperation with intelligent digital paper to capture notes, ideas, sketches, drawings, email, calendar or to do list entries, and anything else. The digital paper allows the io to capture handwritten notes: the paper contains patented preprinted tiny dots, which form a light screen effect.

When the io pen is docked, users can export their handwritten information to applications such as Microsoft Word, Adobe Illustrator and many other applications. Users can also create IP-enabled Post-it Note reminders on their PC desktop systems. Note takers can manage and search their handwritten documents through the support of handwriting recognition by means of ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) fields. Additional more comprehensive ICR and other turnkey software is available as part of the BT corporate io proposition.

The Logitech io works with a range of pre-printed paper from Mead Cambridge Limited notebooks to Post-it Notes from 3M, which are included in the box. What is unique about the paper is the Anoto pattern of tiny preprinted dots that allows the Smart Pen to make an exact copy of the user’s handwriting while writing and then import it to a personal computer.

The paper includes convenient check boxes in order to specify the type of document – notes, e-mail, appointments, and to-do lists. Furthermore it provides the necessary ICR fields to allow the user to name documents for storage, transmission and retrieval. Also the io can edit and update digitally existing pages simply by writing on the original document and subsequently docking the Smart Pen.