I bought a magic gadget from Best Buy called the LiveScribe smart pen and paper after watching a colleague using it for making notes during a meeting.
The smart pen is really a small computer with an infrared camera analyzing a series of micro-dots in a matrix pattern on paper (originally invented by Anoto in Sweden). You write as with an ordinary pen on special notebook paper and the pen also optionally records audio. It can record everything you write and say and all of it is synched in time and saved to the pen. Later you can play back the whole session or just click the pen on the a section of the paper and hear the audio that was being spoken when you wrote the particular entry. You can also synch it back to a computer to save as PDF or put on the Internet as an interactive Flash presentation.
I was mainly interested in using it to sketch and record ideas on user interface, workflow, and data design for software and web applications. I was hoping to use the iPad for that but it’s resolution and ease of drawing doesn’t approach that of pen and paper. This “magic pen” combines the best of both worlds.
Besides capturing design it would also be very useful for:
- Taking notes and audio during meetings and posting the notes with audio as flash playbacks for later reference.
- Taking notes in and recording lectures in class (wish I had one of these for that!).
- Story-boarding or outlining for screenplays, plays, books, etc.
- Medical professionals taking notes during sessions.
These videos are useful for seeing what it can do: