Remember the Leapfrog Fly Pentop? The educational toy that can answer math problems and translate words you write on the special dotted paper? This LiveScribe is the grown-up version, and I believe it's going to sell like hotcakes. In a nutshell, the most critically cool thing it can do is link audio recordings you make as you jot written notes to the actual text you're writing. And it can later all be indexed on a PC, and played back on the computer. Or by clicking on the notepad. Completely useful for students, journalists, lawyersâ€”anyone who takes a lot of notes. And it works. I don't know about you, but if I had this in school, my written notes wouldn't have just sat there, unused in my notebook. You can click on the paper, and the whole audio segment plays itself back. That's also nice because you don't have to write every little thing down; you can take loose notes, and then actually spend time thinking about what the teacher/interviewee is saying.
The amount of RAM wasn't indicated, but I heard that the pen will store an hour of audio. Good for short assignments and lectures. The paper? You can print out the templates on almost any laser printer, and on many inkjets. They're more into selling the apps than the paper. And the pen's software development kit is going to be nice and open, so geeks can write their own apps on top of the ones you can buy. (And the pen already does neat stuff like the math and translation.)
The pen also uses some neat logic built into our hearing system to filter noise. The microphones are in the earbuds, in stereo. When your brain hears the same signal equally in both ears, it has a much better time focusing on that noise. As the microphones record the sound as your ears would ear it, it plays it back in the same stereo resolution. So your brain has an easy time filtering out the background rumble.
A very cool app, and Jim Marggraff's 6th generation paper interface device (He also made that cool talking globe for kids you can click on for geography lessons.) And if you're wondering if this thing'll read your handwriting, I can say with first hand knowledge that Jim's handwriting absolutely sucks, and it still read his.