German pen maker Stabilo wants to launch a smart pen that can translate you handwritten notes into digital text. Write words on a notepad and they’ll show up on you phone, tablet, or PC screen. Shapes like squares and circles can also be recognized.
The company is showing off a prototype at CES, plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign later this year, and could ship the Stabilo Digipen in the third quarter of 2016 for around 100 Euros (which is currently about $108… when did the exchange rate get so close?).
The pen can connect to Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS devices via Bluetooth. But there are a lot of Bluetooth devices on the CES show floor, so the company is showing off a demo using a USB connection.
While the company is showing off handwriting recognition using a custom app, Stabilo says that pen input is basically recognized as a keyboard. So once the software is installed on you device, you should be able to use the Digipen with Word or other apps.
The pen has a ballpoint tip for jotting your notes on an actual piece of paper, recognizes 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity when you’re writing, and uses motion detection to figure out what letters you’re writing. Theoretically this means that even if you have bad handwriting, the Digipen software should be able to convert your chicken scratch into printed text.
That said, you have to train the pen a bit. It worked flawlessly for the Stabilo rep, but when I picked up the pen and tried to write a few words it either didn’t spit out any text at all, or printed completely unrelated words.
There are a few other digital pens on the market that offer similar functionality, but Stabilo says its Digipen is different since it should work with any kind of paper and doesn’t require a special notebook.