My favourite recent gadget is a Livescribe Pulse. Described in their Architecture Overview as ‘a Montblanc-sized computer’, it’s a pen which incorporates the Anoto technology – there’s a small camera which points at the tip, and a very faint dot pattern on the paper which allows it to recognise its position. The upshot is that it records what you write and can transfer it to the computer when you put it in its USB dock.
The technology has been around for some time… you can get similar pens from Nokia and Logitech, and the paper is quite widely available. But there are a few things that persuaded me it was the right time to try one:
- The pen is aesthetically more pleasing, I think, than its predecessors.
- There is support for the Mac. Decidedly beta quality at present, but the 1.0 release is out on Tuesday.
- The coolest bit of all: it has a microphone built in. If you’re in a meeting, making notes, you can also be recording the audio. Later, you can tap on some text you wrote – or click on it if you’ve transferred it to your PC – and it will play back what was being said at the time you wrote the text. Quite brilliant.
There are quite a few fun things you can do with this beyond simple note-taking, and they’ve even got an SDK so, if you want to, you can write your own ‘penlet’ applications for it.
I got mine from a UK supplier, Magicomm. Livescribe have just announced another round of investment funding. They deserve to do well, I think.
Update: Bother… they’ve postponed the Mac release for a month or so.