Oakland (CA) - Note taking is a messy affair and you often miss the gist of what the speaker is saying while you frantically try to write down words. But never fear, Oakland-based Livescribe has developed its Pulse Smart Pen that can digitally record everything you write and hear.
DEMO 08 VIDEO - Up close demo and CEO interview
At first glance the Smart Pen looks like a very oversized pen and that's because it contains an ARM processor along with a host of other digital accessories including a built-in speaker, headphone jack and OLED display. While writing, the infrared camera in the tip scans special dot-covered paper at 72 Hertz and records everything you scribble down.
At the same time, users can record audio through two noise cancelling microphones located near the top of the pen. For extra noisy environments, the Livescribe comes with special 3D recording headphones which, according to company reps, can record a whisper from the back of a noisy auditorium. Recorded audio is synchronized to the text for easy playback.
You can review your writing and audio recordings by taping on the text. The recordings can also be transferred to a computer through a USB docking cradle. Notes can even be shared online and Livescribe gives 250 MB of storage space for free. Geez, I sure wish I had this way back in Chemistry 101 at UCLA.
While the synchronized playback was certainly impressive, real-time language translation provides perhaps the ultimate wow factor. In translation mode, the pen will convert everything you wrote in English into foreign language audio. For example, if you write 1 or please the pen will say uno and por favor. So far Spanish, Mandarin and Arabic (the military and Department of Homeland Security are probably jumping all over this) are supported and other languages are in development.
Special paper embedded with thousands of almost invisible dots is required for the pen to work. One notebook of "microdot" paper is included with each pen purchase and additional books will be sold for $5 each. People will also be able to print their own paper at a later date.
The Livescribe Smart Pen will be available in March for either $149 for the 1 GB version or $199 for the 2 GB model. The pens record approximately 100 or 200 hours of audio respectively.