The future of the pen?

August 17, 2010 | Robert Scoble

While digital pens have been around for almost ten years, most of us probably have never used one. Maybe that’s because the market’s been waiting for a superpen—nay, a smartpen—to emerge. Enter Livescribe, a company elevating pens to nearly unimaginable heights—and selling a half million smartpens in two years.

Jim Marggraff, CEO of Livescribe, shows us how it’s done, using an 8GB Echo smartpen. Yep, a pen that has memory: for storing sound, your written notes for upload, and apps you can launch just by tapping a line you’ve drawn on paper. “Anything you write, hear, or speak, the pen will capture and make it accessible to you forever, and let you search it and share it,” says Marggraff.

The pens can also be used to create “pencasts” which recreate the movements of the pen, as well as recording the accompanying audio. Some of the pencasts, which range from calculus lessons to cartoons, have been viewed more than 40,000 times.

There’s an app store on the Livescribe site, but even the included apps elicit wows: A piano you can draw and then play. A translator that will speak in Spanish (or Mandarin or Arabic) the word you’ve just written in English. A user interface you draw yourself. Livescribe is writing just the tip of the iceberg.

More info:
Livescribe web site:
Livescribe blog:
Livescribe profile on CrunchBase:

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Chris Moline LEED AP August 27, 2010 at 2:50 pm

This is phenomenal. My wife is a physical therapist and we were discussing patient notes last night. I immediately brought this up and will be getting her the $199 version of the Livescribe pen.

matt tate August 17, 2010 at 11:40 am

Brilliant stuff – love the draw your own UI possibilities. The only thing that puts me off is the paper, why not dump it and do it with an ipad (or other tablet).

danny6114 August 17, 2010 at 11:15 am

Absolutely the coolest thing ever!

brianlmerritt August 17, 2010 at 11:05 am

Does this come with an improve your handwriting app?

Bettina Tizzy August 17, 2010 at 10:59 am

Battery life is astonishing. Capabilities are mind-bending. Hey Jim Marggraff, I love the way you think. Standing ovation.

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