The (Hi-Tech) Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword

Dennis Faas's picture

Those returning to school this month might want to invest in a new writing tool sure to take the pain out of jotting down lecture notes. The Pulse Smartpen boasts a hi-tech twist: while the pen writes with real ink, it also contains an infrared camera, audio recording device, twin microphones and a speaker.

How does it work?

The user removes a sheet of specialized "dot-paper" from their coiled notebook (included with the purchase of the Smartpen) and writes down information as they would using a standard pen. However, while a user is listening to what the teacher is saying, the built-in infrared camera is capturing what is being written, while the built-in audio system is recording the lecture. The video and audio are then synchronized with what the creators of the Pulse Smartpen have deemed a "dot positioning system" or DPS. (Source:

Sound complex? It's actually pretty neat.

When the user refers back to their notes at a later time and finds an incomplete section, or a part of the notes that requires further explanation, the user simply taps an icon on the dot-paper and the Pulse Smartpen kicks in with the audio recorded at the exact moment the note was made.

The Pulse Smartpen runs on a rechargeable (albeit non-removable) lithium ion battery and is powered by a 150 MHz 32 bit Samsung ARM9 processor. The pen also ports a sleek mini 96x18 OLED (organic light emitting diode) display. (Source:

This nifty tool comes in a 1 GB model, which has the potential of recording 100 hours of lectures and 16,000 pages of digital notes (depending on how big and how much a user writes). A 2 GB model is also available.

The Smartpen contains a built-in USB port that can be used to transfer data from the pen onto a computer at a later time.

The makers of the Pulse Smartpen, Livescribe, have even created a website that allows their customers to establish an account and share their content in exchange for 250 MB of additional online storage.

Livescribe has a package available which includes three black ink cartridges, one replacement stylus cartridge and a spiral notebook which contains one hundred "dot-papers". The bundle is available on the Livescribe website ( for $149 and $199 USD depending on which model the consumer wishes to purchase.

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