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Livescribe Pulse Smartpen
by Brian Fichtner
on 01 July 2008
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The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen is the kind of invention that marries a brilliant idea with the best available technology of an era, provoking a gee-whizz response rarely experienced in this age of rapid advancement. While smartpens have been around for some time, previous models have been riddled with problems and failed to gain a following. Livescribe nails every feature on the dot.

Essentially, the Pulse is a miniature personal computer that captures your pen strokes with an onboard high speed infrared camera, all the while recording audio. The company dubs this a paper-based computing system. Fundamental to the functionality of this system is the requisite interactive dot enabled paper (a two-dimensional GPS for your pen). While you write or draw, the infrared camera is also tracking the pen's movements across a microdot covered page. Because every page contains a unique dot matrix, the software can assign specific file codes and sync the digitized pen strokes with the recorded audio.

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Later, when reviewing the file on your PC, you can simply mouse-click on a word and the audio recorded at the time of that specific pen stroke will begin playing. For college students who have a tough time keeping up with long-winded professors, this could save the semester when old notes suddenly have the look of hieroglyphics. Livescribe is naturally focusing on marketing the smartpen to the collegiate crowd, but the device has broad appeal to journalists, lawyers, doctors or anyone who tends to take notes in a meeting. Down the line, the company plans to roll-out new applications to broaden the functionality of the device; translation software is a logical next step.

Introduced to rave reviews earlier this year at Amazon and the Livescribe web store. The pen retails for $149 for a 1GB model (100 hours of stored audio) or $199 for a 2GB model, with a four-pack notebooks costing $20.

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