Digital handwriting

May 1, 2008 at 1:47 pm | Posted in Hardware | 1 Comment

I have a program that allows you to customize fonts, particularly to turn your handwriting into a font. Thus, you can type and out comes your ‘hand’. But its a bloody lot of work to get right. And thats not what this post is about.

I’m talking about being able to use traditional writing techniques a la pen and paper and have that captured digitally for use in software. Without scanning. Draw a map and stick it in your Word document, for example.

There are a number of ways to do that. A Wacom tablet, for example, lets you draw or write directly into many programs. Wacom Cintiq‘s allow you to draw right on the picture itself, like you would with hand tools. Various companies have produced “tablet” PC’s – like Notebooks but that can be laid flat while open and have touch responsive screens. later versions of Microsoft’s OneNote were a big improvement in this category. But these still have portability, power, and frailty issues.

Recently, Amazon released the “Kindle“, basically a book reader. Hardier, simplified, and with a better screen technology that makes it much more portable and less frail. Some interactivity possible but not a paper like input.

A few years ago, I got a DigiMemo digital clipboard. Looked much like a smallerDigiMemo version of a standard clipboard with a pad of paper but with a little readout on the side. Everything you wrote on paper was captured digitally for download later. As you changed paper pages, you clicked a button to change digital pages. It was very power efficient and straightforward. With a memory card, it could hold hundreds of pages. Had a little trouble finding the right pad sizes later but I see they have a standard sized model now. It was great for all the meetings I used to go to. Only 1 lb.

With a note capturing tool like EverNote, you have a great combo. Sadly my handwriting sucks, so no OCR software could ever turn it into text. It remains art. (laughs)

Today I got an article on Iogear’s newest Digital Scribe. Even more minimalist, its just aDigital Scribe clip on receiver and a digital pen. Just write and the receive triangulates position. The receiver holds 50 pages. Like the new DigiMemos, it also comes with My Script Notes for OCR conversion of written text. You can watch it capture real-time if you leave it connected to your computer. Interesting but looses portability for that.

These sorts of tools can be wonderful for note-taking, sketching, and capturing those inspired doodles. Care must be taken to note file formats. If you save in default proprietary formats, you may loose access to the files down the road. Always archive to standards.

Be interesting to see where this goes. As voice recognition software matures, the whole typing and writing thing may become mot. Kids these days are growing up at a keyboard with writing skills deemphasized. Some of the developing interfaces let us draw on table tops and in the air. Leaving paper behind is slow as its been in our blood for hundreds of years. But its changing…


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  1. […] May 2, 2008 at 3:19 pm | In uncategorized | Over on Digital Handwriting, I mentioned EverNote, a clipping tool I used to use when I was using the DigiMemo more. (back in […]


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