Livescribe, a computer in a pen

Livescribe logoThe second big announcement at the opening day of the D: All Things Digital conference (following Microsoft’s unvieling of Surface, its gesture-based UI) is a new mobile computing platform called Livescribe. Taking the shape of an ordinary ball-point pen, the device can digitize notes written on special miniature-dotted paper, as well as record and playback audio. Then comes the clever bit — double tap on a word you’ve written and the smart-pen will replay a portion of audio at the exact point the notes were taken, so for example, a few keyword notes can be tied to a place in a recorded lecture or interview. Later on the synced data can then be downloaded to a PC where it can be “replayed, saved, searched or sent”.

Livescribe smart-penLivescribe is more than a single application and is intended to be a complete development platform, allowing others to build new software and functionality for the device. Examples on the company’s website include enabling the pen to publish text straight to a blog, conduct arithmetic, and do on-the-fly translations.

Livescribe looks like a very impressive product which is introducing a new category of mobile device — just don’t call it pen-based computing says Livescribe’s founder, Jim Marggraff. Instead he calls it paper-based computing, perhaps wishing to distinguish the product from the limited success of other pen-based devices such as Palm’s line of organisers or the Tablet PC.

Livescribe’s smart-pen will cost $200 and be available sometime in Q4.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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