Paper World

Livescribe Smartpen


Digital transcriber

The Livescribe is a digital pen that writes normally while simultaneously digitizing what is being written and recording audio. What this pen allows me to do is to synchronize the taking of notes with the audio of the event. As I go through a brain storming session with a customer I can pay attention to the interaction at hand, draw on paper, record the audio, and then at a later time go back and review the notes in-sync with the audio. It also frees me up to take fewer notes at the time of the initial meeting. This allows me to concentrate on the meeting at hand and then go back and review the audio while filling in the blanks as needed or create a list of follow up questions.

When you dock your pen with a computer (Windows / Mac), it transfers the recordings (audio and writing) to the computer thereby making a digitized backup of your handwritten notes as well as the audio of the meeting. This content is searchable and printable (in PDF). After meetings I sometimes spend 5 minutes docking the pen, “PDF-ing” out my notes and emailing them to folks for immediate action.

I’ve been using this pen for about 8+ months now and I believe it’s a very cool tool. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to capture information without a computer, but who still needs the added flexibility, beauty and brilliance of being able to port the data to a computer for expanded use.

The Livescribe uses special “dot paper” and pen cartridges that can be a little pricey, but no more so than Moleskine quality notebooks. The special “dot paper” is needed for the pen to digitize what has been written in ink into a digital format. Livescribe offers “college ruled” 8 x 11 notebooks, and Moleskine style notepads. So no matter what you want to write on, you’re pretty much covered.

-- Mike Martin 06/2/10

(Note: You can now print your own Livescribe "dot paper" at home. Instructions can be found here. Also, a cool demo from BoingBoing can be found here. --OH — editors)