Technology: The Smart Pen

By Nick Diamandopoulos, Nickolas Andrikopoulos & Dinos Kalantzis (A Class)

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  For students, the days of having to make copious notes in class may soon be over. A new invention – the smart pen – looks set to revolutionize classroom behavior. Though similar in appearance to a regular pen, this device boasts multiple functions. It has a minuscule built-in camera that captures handwritten notes as a digital image and stores them in an internal memory. In addition, an integrated microphone not only records the information being heard, but also synchronizes it with the handwritten notes a student makes.

While conveniently rechargeable on any laptop or cell phone charger, the smart pen does, however, require the use of specially manufactured paper, which is ingrained with unique patterns of minute dots. With the aid of these dots as points of reference, the camera tracks the handwriting and page position, enabling the time of the audio recording to be matched to the words as they are written. Tapping on any word with the pen triggers the playback of the part of the recording on a built-in speaker. Both audio and handwriting files can then be uploaded to a laptop to be viewed, archived, retrieved, or shared in video format on forums or blog.

By ensuring that no crucial data is missed, the smart pen simplifies and accelerates the note-taking process, allowing students to concentrate more intently on assimilating information during a lesson. When words are illegible or when the intended meaning of notes scribbled down during a discussion is in doubt, the playback function is particularly useful for classification purposes. Other applications include a calculator mode – having written down a math problem, a user can see the solution displayed on a small screen embedded in the pen. In addition, the translation function registers handwritten words and provides their equivalent in another language on the pen’s screen, with an accompanying audio version to aid in correct pronunciation. Given such versatility, this pen’s only shortcoming appears to be the absence of software that converts handwritten notes to edit a text on screen.

However, that smart pen would be utterly, rigorously and unarguably a good student’s tool; and who knows what the future will bring…