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LiveScribe Smartpen – smart recording pen links audio to your notes, slackers rejoice


Livescribe Smartpen. Ha! So let’s pitch an audio recording pen as a cure for kids with Attention Deficit Disorder (we’ll give it a cutesy name like Restless Mind Syndrome though, because that’s better marketing eh?) Anyhoo, the idea is that as you scribble furiously in class the pen also records an audio of the lecture, which is linked to the words you put on paper. Video. Never miss another important factoid in lectures again. Unfortunately this brilliant market positioning neatly sidesteps two very important points.

  1. Students tune out of lectures because for the most part their lecturers are spouting utter drivel. Student knows it, lecturer knows it, everything is in perfect order. Having a recording pen, no matter how smart, is not going to change that crucial fact. OK?
  2. Most students will simply bribe the one nerd with said pen to attend class, while making their leisurely Ferris Bueller way out of bed and down to the nearest watering hole. So for every 50 projected student sales, you’re going to get 1. Result, revenue chaos.

Nice try clever marketing people, but no banana. Oh and also? Adding in a Facebook application won’t change a thing. And if you believe that students will take $200.00 out of their pocket and place it in yours instead of the nearest beverage dispensing location, you’re crazier than we thought. Game over.

 Additional applications will be available for download from Some use handwriting recognition. For example, when a user writes a math problem, the smartpen interprets the writing, calculates the answer and speaks or shows it on the smartpen’s OLED display. When a user writes a word, the definition or even translation can be heard or seen. Other applications use pre-printed materials to bring paper to life. Tapping a magazine ad, map, customer survey, or study guide instantly launches an application and enables interaction. Still other applications use the power of the Internet to let people broadly share and collaborate. Handwritten messages can be sent as emails. Animated, hand-drawn “movies” can be posted and shared online.


  • Hm, I don't know, but I'm a nerd who'd like to get down every word of what my professor is saying, AND trace what I wrote about it at the time. Seems like a pretty good idea to me.

  • I recently graduated college with a 3.9 GPA in the hard sciences, and even more recently discovered I have ADD.

    I had many fabulous instructors, greatly enjoyed being in school, and almost always sat front and center. It is thoughtless to A) stereotype all students as slackers, and B) equate ADD with lack of motivation. It was exhausting keeping up that GPA in the face of ADD. This pen would have been a lifesaver.

    Try to be a little less cynical.

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