Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Livescribe + iPad = Killer Combo

Or so I wish...  I played around a bit with a Livescribe Smartpen and was very impressed.  If you're not familiar with it, Livescribe's device lets you write like a normal pen but it also captures everything digitally, including the audio around you. So it's perfect for taking notes in a meeting or in a classroom.  One cool feature is that when you touch the pen to a note you wrote during a recorded meeting the audio playback jumps right to the point where you took the note.

Imagine this solution applied to the iPad.  The "smart" components in the pen would move into an iPad app and the pen would simply become a stylus.  The iPad even has a microphone built in to capture the audio from a meeting/class.

Oops.  Anyone who owns an iPhone knows that the touchscreen doesn't respond to inanimate objects, so a stylus won't work on the iPad's similar display.

Bummer.  I wonder if Apple would ever consider changing their display technology to support a stylus.  A Livescribe-like application for the iPad would make the device even more powerful and irresistible.


  1. You'd have a problem even using the Stylus - the Livescribe Pulse pen requires special paper in order for the infrared camera to record what you are writing.

    I've been using my Livescribe to record notes during consulting engagements. It has worked out really well for me.

  2. Hi Jean. I probably wasn't as clear as I should have been in the original post. I'm suggesting all the pen/paper requirements go away with an app that simply traces the stylus' movement. The reason you have that special paper for the Livescribe is that there's no way for the pen to know where it is on regular paper. That problem disappears with a stylus/touchscreen combo.

  3. I will say that a stylus is more accurate, especially in a pin-point sort of way. But I always lose them.

    The great thing about the iPhone, and now the iPad, is that it reacts to your finger. You always have your finger with you.

    Having said that, an app that integrates hand-writing and audio would be great.

  4. OK. We're on the same page then. I'm not sure if such an approach would work with the Livescribe product line, though - they've made quite an investment in coming up with the infrared camera on the head of a pen.

    It would be wonderful if something could work as accurately on the iPad as the Livescribe does on paper.

    @PV: Surprisingly, I thought I would use the audio portion of the Pulse when I got the pen. I have yet to use it in any significant way, however. I don't attend many conferences or lecture-type sessions these days, and I rely primarily on my written notes during conversations with clients, anyway.

    What would be really nice would be an integration between Livescribe and Evernote... Now that is something I would definitely use. Hmmm. Note to self: bring this up with Livescribe...

  5. Hi Jean. You're right that Livescribe has invested a lot in their hardware solution, but there's no reason they couldn't come up with a pretty pricey app that does the same thing on the iPad. That also helps their overall margins since they won't have the COGS associated with the hardware.

  6. Something like the Pogo Stylus outfitted with LiveScribe technology would fit the bill:


  7. Thanks Michael. I hadn't seen that stylus before. You're absolutely right. I just wonder if they offer the fine tips you'd need for writing.