The Livescribe paper-based computing platform consists of a smartpen, paper, software applications, and developer tools. The Livescribe platform was announced on May 30, 2007 at the D: All Things Digital Conference.

The Pulse smartpen is a computer embedded in a pen-sized package, with audio and visual feedback, processing capabilities, and built-in memory storage for handwriting capture, audio recording and applications. Users can capture and synch audio recordings to notes handwritten on special paper and replay audio segments by tapping on what they wrote. The captured notes and audio in the smartpen can then be uploaded via docking station to a PC where they can be replayed, saved, searched or sent to others.

Jim Marggraff, inventor of the LeapFrog FLY Pentop computer and creator of the LeapPad Learning System, left Leapfrog to form Livescribe in 2005.

The Pulse Smartpen

The Pulse smartpen is about the size and weight of a large Montblanc pen, and comes equipped with a removable ink cartridge, a microphone to record audio, a speaker for playback, a small OLED display, and an internal computer chip that captures handwritten notes and drawings. When someone writes with the smartpen on Livescribe paper, the recorded audio is automatically linked to the written notes. There is a Livescribe application called “Paper Replay.”

The 1 Gigabyte model sells for $149 and the 2 GB model is priced at $199. The 1 GB model holds about 100 hours of recorded audio, depending on audio quality.

None of the other digital pens on the market include integrated audio recording. The Pulse is the first business digital pen to support native applications. The Fly Pentop pen has a cartridge expansion slot, but there is no public SDK and you can only have one cartridge at a time. The Pulse is closer to a computer, allowing the installation of as many applications as there is memory.

At launch, the Pulse includes a limited translator demo application. Livescribe plans on offering many new applications by the end of 2008, including a full Spanish translator and handwriting recognition. The ability to print your own paper is to be introduced in November of '08.

Paper, Applications, and Sharing

The Livescribe computing platform is an integrated system of the Pulse smartpen, dot paper, applications, and developer tools. The dot paper uses a patented dot-positioning system licensed from Anoto to track and record the smartpen’s movement on the paper.

As with all Anoto pattern-based pens, you must use paper pre-printed with the dot pattern - there's no other way for the pen to know which page you are on, for example. Livescribe sells US Letter and half Letter sized notebooks at prices comparable to premium quality notebooks. A promised future update will include the ability to print your own dot paper.

One of the key applications of the smartpen is called “Paper Replay,” which allows the smartpen to automatically synchronize handwriting with audio during a lecture, meeting, or conversation. Users can replay the audio from the exact moment the note was written by tapping on their notebook or transfer the entire lecture to a PC where they can replay, save, search, upload to web, or send their notes and audio.

The Livescribe Desktop software allows users to upload anything they have created with their smartpen to their Windows-based PC (Mac version is schedule for Q4 2008). On their computers, users can search through and play back any of the audio notes.Users also are able to upload their notes and drawings to the Livescribe Online Community. From there, they can also share any of their content with friends via Facebook or by emailing them a link.

Developer Tools

Livescribe is working on a Penlet SDK to allow application development for the smartpen. The SDK is based on Java; applications run directly on the pen itself. They are able to display text and menus, as well as produce audio feedback. The SDK is currently in beta.

External links

* [ Livescribe, Inc.]
* Provides resources for users and developers of the Pulse smart pen from Livescribe, Inc.
* [ The Shape of Computers to Come?] at [ Wall Street Journal]
* [ D5: A new pen for a new era] at [ The Tech Chronicles, SF]

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