In reality, though, recording lectures or meetings without notes misses the point of the Smartpen entirely. Key to this process is the notepad, which is comprised of 100 two-sided pages of ruled digital paper. Quite aside from the things you can write and draw on their surface, each page has a set of menu controls (four directional arrows and a home key) and track controls (including record, pause, stop, position, playback speed, and volume/mute).
Under the Settings menu, you can alter recording quality, microphone sensitivity, playback latency, menu voice (yes, the pen tells you what menu section you’re in for the main ones), display brightness, scroll speed, display orientation, and finally the date format.
Meanwhile, the notepad’s front and back cardboard covers contain extra functionality. There are standard, scientific and financial calculators, a full QWERTY keyboard including special characters, all the settings mentioned in the previous paragraph as well as status indicators for time/date, remaining storage/battery life and software version.
Tapping any of these ‘buttons’ or icons worked flawlessly, regardless of speed – except for the paper keyboard, which the pen tells us (literally) is “coming soon”. You see, not only is Livescribe working on further applications (for which it is unfortunately likely to charge extra), but it has released a Software Development Kit (SDK) so that everyone with enough Java knowledge can get in on the action.
A great example of the potential and possibilities is the virtual piano. It might be gimmicky, but it was undeniably cool to draw an octave (eight notes) keyboard on a piece of paper and to then be able to play real notes on it, definitely something to impress your mates with. Writing the letter ‘i’ beside it allows one to change the instrument, while an ‘r’ on the dotted paper lets you add in a background rhythm.
Another neat example is the translator, which will translate a basic set of English words you write down (including hello, goodbye, please and chocolate – everything important covered then) into Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish or Swedish, displaying the word on its OLED display while pronouncing it clearly.
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