With features such as
and MP3 players, pen computers are sketching out a place of
their own in the world of multi-function portable devices.
Leapfrog’s Fly Fusion Pentop
Computer, for example, can
be customized with more than
38 so ware titles, including
algebra, writing, and language
translators, just to name a few.
Livescribe’s Pulse Pen features
audio recording and a built-in
speaker, while Nokia’s Digital
Pen harnesses Bluetooth
technology to transfer data
to mobile phones.
Not all pen computers use
the same technology. Most
will only work when writing
on Anoto digital paper, which
is covered in an array of nearly
invisible black dots. e patented Anoto pattern acts as a dot
positioning system that can be
read by a high-speed camera at
the tip of the pen. e dots tell
the pen exactly where the user
is writing or tapping the pen
on the page.
When you write on digital
paper, everything is automatically captured and digitized.
at information can then
be uploaded to your PC and
converted to text. PaperIQ’s
Blackberry Digital Pen claims
to recognize the handwriting
of 10 languages.
Notebooks of digital paper,
at around $6 to $12 each, are
a bit more expensive than
plain paper. ere are also ink
cartridges to consider. Some pens
use standard replacements and
others use proprietary cartridges.
While all the pens listed here
require ink cartridges, there are
pen computers that don’t require
digital paper. e IOgear Mobile
Digital Pen uses an ultrasonic
transmitter and infrared sensor to capture hand movements
while a receiver attached to any
notepad stores your memos and
images. Pegasus Technologies’
Mobile PC Notetaker works in a
similar way, transmitting its tip
location in real-time to a receiver
located at the top of the page. e
tip location is drawn on the base
unit LCD, and saved into memory. A er loading the saved notes
to the PC, a so ware application
translates the tip’s XY location to
digital format and displays your
handwriting on the screen.
Storage capacity for pen
computers varies widely, with
units o ering upwards of 2GB
onboard. Some come with much
less installed, but are expandable. Leapfrog, for example,
o ers an expansion cartridge
for its Fly Fusion for about $30,
which doubles the pen’s memory
to 128MB. Many manufacturers equate their storage capacity
to pages of text. PaperIQ, for
instance, claims their 1MB of
storage stores about 20 pages of
notes on A4-size paper.
Most of the pens connect to
USB ports for charging and
downloading. e exceptions are
Nokia’s digital pen, which can
also use Bluetooth technology
to transmit information to a cell
phone, and PaperIQ’s o ering,
which transmits to a Blackberry.
Pegasus Technologies Ltd.
Information not available at press time.