IOGEAR Digital Scribe

For all the strides made toward the “paperless office” through e-mail, new types of document files, and even display technologies that make paper look antiquated, the presence of normal writing instruments in everyday life has proved completely unavoidable. It may be more practical to swap e-mails with colleagues than paper messages, but for everyday tasks like writing down an address or taking on-the-spot notes, even the geekiest of us reach for an ordinary pen and paper.

Fortunately, if it’s IOGEAR’s Digital Scribe, all of those paper notes will seamlessly transfer to the world of bits and bytes as well. The Digital Scribe is a pen that functions exactly like an ordinary pen, except it also has the capability to capture and store digital versions of hand-written notes in real time as they’re written.

The pen uses an infrared sensor and ultrasonic transmitter in its base to detect hand movements and digitally record them. Unlike previous versions of similar technology, the Digital Scribe doesn’t require any special paper to make the tracking possible, and even the ink refills are standard. Users only need to clamp a small base station to the top of a clip board or other writing surface and begin writing.

IOGEAR Digital Scribe
Image Courtesy of IOGEAR

All written notes can be retrieved by connecting the base station to a PC via a USB port, and viewed using Microsoft’s OneNote 2007 software. Optional optical character recognition even allows the computer to take digitized handwritten notes and convert them to type, similar to the way a PDA or tablet PC would on the fly. IOGEAR claims the recognition software is so sophisticated, it can discern illustrations from written text and turn them into JPEG image files.

Besides functioning as a portable note storage device, the Digital Scribe can also work in real time in conjunction with a nearby PC. By skipping the storage process and transferring notes directly to a computer, the pen effectively becomes a wireless tablet, allowing users to take advantage of all the tablet PC functionality built into Windows Vista.

With a little imagination, the possibilities are even greater. Connect a digital projector and you have a pen that turns an ordinary sheet of printer paper into a white board the size of a wall. Run instant messaging software and you can digitally pass handwritten notes to buddies like in middle school.

Given all of its functionality, the Digital Scribe is actually quite affordable at $99 USD. That price tag may scare away the absent-minded doodler whose cheap pens are all destined for new owners long before they run out of ink, but for the astute note taker still striving to make peace between the digital and paper worlds, IOGEAR’s Digital Scribe may be just the ticket.

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