It’s an “io Personal Digital Pen,” from Logitech Inc. But it really does look and feel like a pen. It writes like a pen, with real ink, on real paper. But it also stores everything you write, and will transfer it all to your computer when you return it to its cradle. I have to say it’s pretty neat, and may mark the beginning of Something Useful.
The technology behind the io pen comes from a Swedish company called Anoto AB .
Anoto’s technology works like this: The pen writes normally, using normal biro ink. But while you’re writing, a tiny camera inside the pen is also taking 100 snapshots per second of what you’re doing, mapping your writing via a patchwork of minute dots printed on the paper. All this information — the movement of your pen on the paper, basically — is then stored digitally inside the pen, whether you’re writing longhand, scribbling notes or drawing complex diagrams. You can store up to 40 pages worth of doodles in the pen’s memory. As far as you’re concerned, you’re just using a normal pen.
It’s only when you drop the pen into its PC-connected cradle that the fun begins. Special software on your PC will figure out what you’ve done, and begin to download any documents you’ve written since the last time it was there. Depending on whether you’ve ticked certain boxes on the special notepad, it can also tell whether the document is destined to be an e-mail, a to-do task, or a diagram to be inserted into a word processing document. Once the documents are downloaded you can view them as thumbnails, print them out, or convert them to other formats.
It’s a neat and simple solution to the problem of storing, sharing and retrieving handwritten notes, and of handling diagrams, pictures and other non-text doodling.
The io Pen costs USD 200. I want this new Pen!!