Digital pens make note retrieval easier

Taking your notes electronically, can avoid the necessity of transcribing them later. I usually have a pad and pen out at meetings and the like, so I can scratch down key facts, conclusions reached, and/or future action points. Once I figured out that it would be handy to reference these scratches as a way of bringing myself back up to speed on an issue, I began scanning my notes onto my computer.

Well, it turns out I can save myself even the time of scanning, by using a “digital pen”. Digital pens have a small camera near the pen’s tip, and are used with special paper (which can be purchased, or printed from compatible printers). As you take notes, the pen stores your scratches in its memory, which can then be transferred to your computer via a docking station. Voila–no need to scan after the fact, no need to type up memos, and no need to file away paper.

And depending on what model you use, the audio of your meeting can be stored too, and even synchronized (allowing you to jump to the parts of your conversation where your notes went bad). And there’s character recognition possibilities (allowing you to perform a search on your notes, rather than flip pages). And an ability to automate form capture (allowing standard forms to be filled out by hand, and then imported into the computer).

Two main digital pens out there are the Livescribe Pulse and Adapx Capturx (both around $250). The Livescribe comes with audio recording capabilities, while Capturx has tighter integration with OneNote (Microsoft’s free-form note taking software). From what I’ve heard, the Livescribe community is stronger, but the Capturx has a share of dedicated users in certain industries.

So if you’re a note-taker looking to streamline into a “less-paper” environment, digital pens may just be the way to go!

Leave a Reply