For centuries, all you needed to write a message was a simple pen, some ink and a piece of paper. Then came the computer, and musings of a ‘paperless office’ where every message would be sent electronically. However, the paperless office never really materialised and today we’re still scribbling away and then spending hours transcribing sometimes almost illegible shorthand into computer documents. If only there was something in between…

There is, and it’s called the digital pen. It sounds like a science fiction concept, but thanks to technology that is getting smaller and more compact and cutting edge research, the digital pen and paper are now a reality.
What is a digital pen?

Together with the Anoto patterned paper, a digital pen lets you store and transmit anything you write or draw to any computer in the world. It consists of a tiny digital camera fitted to the tip of the pen, an advanced image processing unit and a Bluetooth connection. However this piece of high tech innovation also has an ink cartridge and normal pen stylus so you can see what you have written.

Simple to use, the digital pen looks and feels like an ordinary pen, but it’s the paper that makes this invention so unique. Printed on the surface of the paper are millions of tiny dots that allow the image processor in the pen to locate the tip of the pen. An infrared light makes the dots visible to the pen, which then takes digital snap shots of the pattern created at a rate of 100 per second. This dot matrix is invisible to the human eye, but allows the pen to record the movement of the stylus across the surface of the paper. As you write across the paper, the pen’s camera records the movement and transmits it to the data processor. A sensor in the pen tells the processor how much pressure is being applied and this information allows the processor to interpret the writing on the pad. This is then stored as a ‘map’, digitised and can then be sent anywhere in the world via the pen’s Bluetooth radio transceiver and a connection to a device such as a BlackBerry®smartphone.

The pen’s memory allows it to store several pages of written material. Drawings and sketches can be interpreted and transmitted, and you can even go back and change your notes if you need to – the pen’s memory will store the corrections and interpret them in the correct position.
Why do I need a digital pen and paper?

Even the most tech-savvy users still use a pen and paper at some time. Tapping out meeting notes on a BlackBerry can be distracting and because of the size of the keyboard, it is easy to make mistakes. A digital pen and paper allows you to jot down important notes as you would with an ordinary pen without disturbing the flow of the meeting or your concentration.

It also takes into account the increasing importance of handwriting recognition technology when filling out forms. The effective conversion of hand-written text into the digital format means that forms which need to be filled out by hand can be created on the Anoto paper and stored in digital format without the need for printing out a hard copy unless absolutely necessary. For logistics companies in particular, this new system could cut the amount of time and paper use drastically, allowing you to keep digital copies on a computer rather than taking up space with filing cabinets filled with paper forms.

The digital pen and paper provides the perfect ‘in between’ technology – a revolutionary step forward in how we write everyday notes, fill in forms and store our data.

Contacts For interviews, images or comments contact: Chris Bourne Online Manager Intercity About the Author Chris Bourne – Intercity is a leading independent service provider in the business communications market offering Digital Pen solutions including digital pen and paper, digital writing pad and digital notepads.

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