Thursday 23 July 2009

Digital pens aid efficiency?

A recent article* in the BCS magazine on the NHS use of digital pen technology proving more useful/cost effective than laptops or tablet PC's led me to wonder whether this would be useful for me - would auto digitising my notes improve my personal efficiency?

There seem to be two types:
1. A pen that requires special paper to be able to capture notes
2. A pen with a separate sensor that captures the pens movements over normal paper

An example of the first type is the livescribe pen - this actually records the audio as you write as well and is very well featured. It does require livescribe notepaper to work which has it's pro's and cons. You can print this yourself. There are other solutions like anoto that work on special paper - actually with anoto this comes with software that can add the digital marks required to pages you print from your local printer so you can print PDF forms and the software can generate the PDF with your notes on it when you sync the pen (I believe this is the solution the nhs are looking at).

A good example of the second type is the Dane-Elec Zpen which needs you to clip a small USB device to the page before you write. You can write on any paper and then sync the drawings on to your computer.

So there is technology out there that is well established and mature, it works although has a number of constraints - can I use it? There are security concerns about the data that might reside on the pen - I'm assuming one can't encrypt the data in the same way one can on a tablet pc or laptop. With voice recording folks may find it disconcerting or indeed it may stop meetings in some cases.

Interesting problems that deserve more research on my part.

From a solution point of view it does look like a great technology for areas where tablets, laptops and pc's are not viable data capture devices and you don't want to increase your scanning base.

* Can't get a link to the original article but here are some others

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