Yet another “App Store” launched this week, but the new Livescribe Application Store is for a smart pen rather than smart phone.
The Livescribe Pulse has changed the way I make a record of interviews since I started using it 18 months ago. It’s a pen that records both my scratchy notes, with a built-in camera in the nib section, and the audio of interviews, with its microphone.
(This post was first published on November 22, 2009)
The tiny dots on the paper of the special Livescribe notebooks act as map coordinates to marry up sound and text – tapping on a written word plays the audio spoken at that point, meaning I can decipher my shorthand and make sure I have an accurate quote.
The technology is great for anyone who does note-taking – from students to journalists and anyone taking minutes of meetings.
But there are other uses for the pen as demonstrated by the new application store, the fruit of Livescribe releasing a software development kit (SDK) to third parties.
Of the 31 apps in the store at launch, the most expensive is the $100 Magic Yad package or “Hebrew chanting made easy”. This is a boon for Jewish students studying for their barmitzvah.
Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on practising their chants with a cantor, they can use the pen with special notebooks sent out by the application developer to tap on the Hebrew and hear how it should be chanted. They can also record themselves with the pen and hear how they sound compared to the original.
Other applications include useful travel phrases in French, German, Japanese and Korean and a full Spanish dictionary, which use the pen’s handwriting recognition to provide translations.
Write the English word and see the Spanish translation on the Pulse’s OLED display, or vice versa. There are also audio pronunciations for over 40,000 Spanish words.
More than 5,000 developers have registered for Livescribe’s SDK, and the final version has been available for only about two months, so many more applications could be on the way.
The San Francisco Bay Area company has released a 2.0 version of its desktop synchronisation software to enable the new applications and offer new features, such as the ability to search for keywords across multiple notebooks – digital images of each page, clickable for audio content, are all backed up and accessible in the desktop program.
There is also a 4Gb version of the pen available now – twice the previous maximum capacity – capable of holding more than 400 hours of audio.
I would like to see a redesigned pen at some point, hopefully thinner and easier to grip. Features such as a faster processor, better battery life and even a bluetooth link to a headset would be welcome improvements as well.
But for now, the extra capacity pen, improved software and the introduction of an application store serves to increase the Livescribe Pulse’s appeal and usefulness.