Tech pundits love to point out how every sphere of human existence has been transformed by technology. It all began with letters that went back and forth without any assistance from the postal department (good old mail) and has now come to a stage when you have refrigerators with special chips and shoes that calculate how fast you have run and how far. So it would be naïve to assume that the instrument deemed mightier than the sword has to been touched by tech too. We are referring to that trusted tool, the good old pen. Crystal gazers had predicted its demise years ago, thanks to the rise of the keyboard, but the rumors of its death have so far proved to be exaggerated. Not only is the pen flourishing, it is getting increasingly hi-tech and in some cases, carving a niche for itself as a triple F (full fledged flaunt able) gadgets.
After the desktop and the palm top cometh the era of the pen top. Or so the folks at Light-scribe would have us believe. The company’s pulse pen is being pushed as something that not just makes patterns on paper but functions as computing platform too. Well, it converts handwritten notes to digital format (provided you use special paper) records any sound made while writing (so you can actually makes notes of a lecture while recording the lecture itself) and searches your notes for terms (a PC needed here). There is talk of third party applications being developed of the device to make it more powerful. We doubt if it will provide competition to iPhone’s App Store, but still makes for a worthy investment or authors who can spare about USD 200.
Of Light-scribe is the newest layer in the pen top market, then Leap Frog can claim to be the one who invented to term ‘pen top’ The company’s Fly Fusion pen top was targeted at kids but packed one helluva punch. Apart from the normal write and transfer to a PC, record and play audio stuff it also does some really cool rocks – you could write the date and time of an appointment on special paper and the pen will memorize it and remind you of it. Similarly, you can identify a nation just by tapping the pen on a map. Best of all, if you want a calculator, all you have to do is draw the interface on paper and start using it. Not bad for something that costs USD 70!
When it’s not scribbling notes, the Wi-Fi Pen can spot a Wi-Fi network in matter of seconds. All one has to do is push a button on the pen and a LED will light up if there is a Wi-Fi network within 50 feet of the user. A whole lot simpler than putting your cell phone or PC on Wi-Fi scan mode. Of course, you will to keep changing batteries as well as ink, but some might consider that a small price to pay for knowing where a Hot Spot is with minimum fuss. All for approximately USD 20.
Brando’s USB MP3 pen is a must have for authors who believe that writing is impossible without music, the instruments has a full-fledged MP3 player stored in its innards and even throws in a voice recorder for those who like it think aloud before scribbling silently. There is an FM radio too, for good measure. And the pen still weights around 50 gm! Available in capacities of 512 MB (USD 43), 1GB (USD 54) and 2 GB (USD 60) although we warn you, the battery gives only a measly seven hours of playback.
One of the staple images of a post-crime scene is that of police officials filing up forms and reports. Well, that process might get more tech savvy thanks to work on a pen that comes with a built in infra red to record handwritten notes and then transfer them to a computer via a special docking station that can be carried in a car. The pen identifies the form(s) being filled out, preserves original handwriting and automatically records the time and date of every movement made by it. The prototype was impressive enough for the Durham police to give it a try a few years ago.