Livescribe's Pulse Smartpen, which creates digital copies of notes and links them to recorded audio, launches today in 1GB and 2 GB models. Using specialised paper with microdots to track pen movement, the Pulse not only copies notes, but can do quick calculations, translate foreign words and record 3D audio.
We got an up close look at the Livescribe Pulse, and found out for ourselves what it could do. Livescribe's CEO, Jim Marggraff, is the same man responsible for Leapfrog's Fly Fusion Pen. He left to found Livescribe and work on more advanced smartpens. The Pulse is about 6 inches long, about a half inch in diameter, has a 96x18 OLED display, up to 2GB of memory (good for 150-200 hours recording time or 60,000 pages of notes), dual embedded mics, and a data/charging dock with a similar design to a magsafe charger.
The main feature of the Pulse is that it digitally transfers handwritten notes and links it to audio recorded at the same time. For example, if you were to begin recording audio while writing, you could go back later, tap anywhere on the page and bring up the audio that was recorded while writing in that specific part of the page.
The written notes are transferred to the computer via USB dock and are imported into Livescribe's own software interface. From here notes can be organised and manipulated as you see fit. One feature is the ability to animate pen strokes, so that they sequentially appear on screen like you wrote them on paper. It also comes with handwriting recognition software so that you can search for keywords in your notes. The early software we saw had a few bugs, but it should be ironed out before the pulse hits shelves. All of these notes can also be uploaded to your own personalised page on Livescribe's server (250 MB free) where you can share with others, or just keep it as backup for yourself.
One of the neater functions of the Pulse is the 3D recording headset that comes with the pen. The headset looks and functions like a normal pair of headphones, but on the backside are a pair of binaural mics that enable 3D audio recording. If you have the headset in your ears, or draped over your shoulder while recording, and you go back and listen later, the audio sounds exactly the way you experienced it earlier. If someone is walking around you while talking, you can hear the sound transfer from one ear to the other.
The specialised dot paper is the key to the Pulse's functionality. While Livescribe will produce notebooks catered around specific functions of the smartpen, templates can also be downloaded and printed from home for free. At the bottom of the paper are a series on controls (Record, Play, Stop, etc...) that run the main functions of the pen. Tapping on a section of your notes will bring up the corresponding audio that was recorded as you were writing on that spot of the page. Menu navigation is carried out through a cursor, which is also on the page, or can be drawn anywhere on the page. From here, some of the more advanced functions of the pen can be accessed.
The calculator and translator show off some of the more powerful abilities of the Livescribe Pulse. If you bring up the calculator app, and write "10x4=" on the paper, the Pulse will spit out the correct answer of 40. Likewise, with the translator, if you pick to translate from Spanish to English and write down the word "coche", the Pulse will analyse the text and show the word translated as "car." These functions are just the tip of the iceberg; Livescribe not only plans to make more productivity apps like this, but open up the platform with an SDK available to all in the second half of 2008.
The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen is expected to ship in March (PC only, Mac support to follow soon) with the 1 GB model selling for US$149 and the 2 GB model for US$199. Both pens come with a 100-page dot notebook, 3D recording headset, ink and stylus refills, USB cradle, Livescribe Desktop app, and 250 MB of online storage.
Livescribe Unveils Pulse™ Smartpen and Developer Program
Livescribe invites developers to create applications for Pulse
DEMO - Palm Desert, Calif. - Jan. 28, 2008 - Livescribe, Inc. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jim Marggraff will unveil a new category of consumer electronics on Tuesday with the introduction of Pulse™, the world's first smartpen.
The Pulse smartpen from Livescribe is a computer within a pen that captures handwriting and simultaneously records audio and synchronises it to the writing. Users can simply tap on their notes to replay what was recorded from the exact moment they were writing, so they never miss a word they hear, write, or speak. Further, the smartpen is a general purpose computer with rich I/O capabilities and a Java development environment that enables a wide range of applications.
"Pulse is a new type of mobile computer that supports the four basic modes of human communication - reading, writing, speaking and listening" said Jim Marggraff. "Using an embedded speaker and display for audio/visual input, and microphones and a pen for audio/visual output, Pulse advances the power and flexibility of mobile computing - it's the missing link that now connects the paper and digital worlds."
Introducing the Pulse™ Smartpen from Livescribe
The Pulse smartpen is available for preorder at www.livescribe.com and will arrive on doorsteps in March. Key features with every Pulse smartpen purchase include:
• Pulse Smartpen - With a sleek, ergonomic design and charcoal blue anodised aluminium housing, the smartpen weighs in at just 1.3 ounces. Pulse is available in two models. Priced at $149, the 1GB model provides storage for recorded audio (over 100 hours), digital notes (over 16,000 pages), or add-on applications. At $199, the 2GB model doubles the storage capacity and provides more flexibility for downloading future applications.
• Paper Replay™ - Pulse's core application enables users to record and sync audio with whatever they write, so they never miss a word. With Paper Replay, users can tap on their notes written on paper to hear exactly what was said. They can also fast forward, rewind, jump ahead, pause, and even speed up or slow down their audio recordings using controls printed on the bottom of each page.
• Smartpen Technology - The Pulse smartpen is a sophisticated mobile computer that includes: a high speed infrared camera with a Dot Positioning System (DPS); rechargeable lithium battery; high contrast display for easy indoor/outdoor viewing; dual microphones for clear recording and noise cancellation; an embedded speaker and an audio jack for Livescribe's 3D Recording Headset.
• Dot Paper Notebook - The nearly-invisible micro dots printed on notebook pages tell the Pulse smartpen exactly where a user is writing or tapping. The Dot Positioning System enables not only printed controls for recording and playback on each page, but also paper-based applications including a full-function calculator on the inside front cover of every notebook. Additional notebooks will be available for purchase at prices comparable to ordinary paper notebooks. Users can also print dot paper for free on qualified laser jet printers beginning in April.
• 3D Recording Headset - Livescribe has created a revolutionary 3D Recording Headset. Each earbud has an embedded microphone that creates a new standard in recording quality in large rooms or noisy environments.
• USB Mobile Charging Cradle - This light weight magnetic cradle connects the Pulse smartpen to the PC to recharge, transfer digital ink and audio, and install new applications.
• Livescribe Desktop Software - The digital hub for notes and audio, Livescribe Desktop allows users to store, replay, and search for words within their handwritten notes on their PC.
• Livescribe Online Community - Every registered Pulse user receives 250MB of online storage to upload and share notes and audio as interactive Flash movies or PDF files. Users can choose to share with the Livescribe community, selected contacts, or other sites like Facebook. Text and audio transcription services will also be available online.
• Additional Applications - Users can customise their Pulse with additional applications - ranging from language learning to productivity tools to games - via download from www.livescribe.com.
Developer Program Makes Pulse Smartpen Even Smarter
Livescribe also announced the launch of the Livescribe Developer Program, inviting developers to build innovative, paper-based computing applications to enhance and broaden the functionality of the Pulse smartpen. The program provides a suite of tools and services for users, casual developers and professional developers to create, publish, share and sell their applications. Members will have access to developer tools, technical documentation, starter guides, sample code, community forums and technical support.
Some of the applications already underway by developers for Pulse include foreign language translators, productivity tools, games, interactive books, transcription services, and specialised educational aids:
• Binary Labs is developing a complete Spanish translator for Pulse, providing a powerful tool for people that want to learn or communicate in Spanish. Consumers simply write words in English to hear and read the Spanish translation on Pulse's OLED display screen. Users can also look up Spanish verb conjugations and Spanish idioms.
-Living Paper will develop the Elephant Calendar, best known for its paper-based personal organiser, into an interactive digital organizer that works with Pulse.
• Stiletto Ventures will offer several games and entertainment applications designed to provide Livescribe customers with an engaging, interactive paper experience.
• J-PEA will make the Bible, the most widely distributed book in the world, interactive by printing it on dot paper. Readers tap on pages with their smartpen to hear verses read to them, hear pronunciations, read definitions of specific words, or jump to cross-referenced verses.
• Audio Tutor will create the first interactive birding journal. The dot-enabled field journal provides bird visuals and information, in both text and audio. Consumers can also record their birding expeditions through handwriting, drawings and audio recordings.
Livescribe provides several options to help consumers easily transcribe handwriting and audio into digital text:
• Living Paper will provide ink to text transcription services.
• Vision Objects will provide handwriting recognition software that converts handwriting captured by Pulse into digital text.
• Winscribe will offer integrated workflow and speech transcription technology for Pulse.
Specialised Education Tools
• The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute will develop applications to assist visually-impaired students with learning through Pulse.
• ViewPlus will produce embossed color images with their Emprint™ SpotDot Braille Embosser that works with Pulse.
By providing an open platform, building a strong developer support program, and offering targeted distribution channels, Livescribe will provide an attractive business opportunity for developers. Software developers interested in designing applications for Pulse should e-mail [email protected]