Smart Pens

Posted by in Accommodations & Assistive Technology

Have you ever been in a lecture taking notes and found that the professor or guest speaker talks way too fast? I always get caught up in trying to write down every word and end up missing something important in my class lectures. Now one solution to this problem would be to interrupt the teacher and ask him or her to repeat what you missed. But really, how rude is that?! If only there was some way to just go back in time and hear that part of the lecture again. Oh, wait! There is! It’s called a Smart Pen.

Smart Pens are electronic pens that you use like any other pen, except it records the speaker while you write. You can then go back and listen to the lecture later. You may ask, “Why not use a recorder?” Well, Smart Pens can go one step further than a simple recording device. They use a special kind of paper which the pen uses to sync the recording with what you write. This allows you to go back later and tap the pen on a certain spot in your notes and the pen will then begin replaying the lecture from the spot which you wrote those words. This is immensely useful because all you have to do is write a prompt or a few words where you may have previously needed to write several sentences to get everything important. Then just go back later to hear the teacher talk about the topic in depth.

To get more technical on just how the pen is able to achieve this high-tech feat, it is thanks to a small video camera at the base of the pen that is connected to a pressure sensor on the tip of the pen. The special paper you use has thousands of tiny dots ingrained in it with different patterns that the camera watches while it is recording. So later, when it senses the pen being pushed down on the paper, it will recognize the special sequence of dots from its camera memory and start replaying from the time you passed the pen over those particular dots while recording.

There are several other cool features the Smart Pen offers, one being that you can upload recordings from your pen to your computer to save and listen to later or send to other people. There are also some less academic aspects that are fun to play with. For instance, it has a feature that lets you draw a small section of a piano and then play it by pressing the “keys” with your pen. Unfortunately these pens don’t come cheap, on average they are sold for $150 – $200. But it is well worth the money if you plan to really use it and take advantage of all the different features it offers.
If you are interested in purchasing a Smart Pen, you can follow this link: