Digital pens

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Jaysen
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:18 pm Post

suavito wrote:I never understood the idea behind this. If you need special paper to make the OCR program work properly why not use a normal pen, maybe on the same paper, and scan it?

The pen is micro computer that tracks the stokes as you write. There is no need to post process the paper via a scan. Also, since the micro controller is tracking the relative position on the paper, there is no need to actually use INK. I have used the "blank" stylus insert to make notes when I had a pen explosion. Additionally the pen records stroke order allowing for a finer resolution of the various characters in OCR land. Add to this the audio recording and playback functions and you are not really looking at "pen and paper" but an automated, multi format data capture device.

Yes, I own one. Yes I have played with the API and done "cool things" with it. No I do not work for them.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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suavito
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 12:34 pm Post

Yes, but the pen needs special paper to work doesn't it?

At least earlier pens like this did. I haven't checked this kind of pens for a while.
Author’s Preface

I wrote this book in less than two hours. I think I’ve made as much of it as one could in such a short time.

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Sean Coffee
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:38 pm Post

suavito wrote:Yes, but the pen needs special paper to work doesn't it?

At least earlier pens like this did. I haven't checked this kind of pens for a while.


Yes, Livescribe requires that you use their notebooks (or print your own paper on a color laser printer). You can't (readily) tell the difference between Livescribe paper and normal paper.

In fact, one of the things that swayed me when I was considering the Livescribe pen was the quality of their notebooks. I use their large and small spiral bound, and find them comparable to the Clairefontaine notebooks I always use (and I actually like them better than Rhodia, which I find to be a little floppy.)

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suavito
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:45 pm Post

That's my point: If you can't use digital pens without special paper why not use only the paper and scan it? That would be cheaper because no microcomputer pen is needed and you could choose a pen that suits you most.

And maybe not even the special paper, which is expensive too, would be needed as this paper helps the software to locate the letters on the paper (that's how I understand it). On a normal sheet of paper plain on a scanner this all would work just like that. Depending on the readability of the handwriting, of course.
Author’s Preface

I wrote this book in less than two hours. I think I’ve made as much of it as one could in such a short time.

Eugen Egner, Androids from Milk

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Jaysen
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 3:49 pm Post

That is an option, but you lose accuracy. The scan/ocr process is very dependent on image quality that will be variable depending on pen pressure, paper quality, ink quality, and on an on. My experience it that getting a good ocr-able scan usually takes up so much time that the pen and paper pays for itself in a few days.
Jaysen

I have a wife and 2 kids that I can only attribute to a wiggle, a giggle, and the realization that she was out of my league so I might as well be happy with her as a friend. 26 years marriage later, I can't imagine life without her. -Me 10/7/09

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suavito
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Wed Sep 22, 2010 4:05 pm Post

Very interesting to know that. My only experiences with OCR were with pages typed on a typewriter and the results were, even though the letters were not faded out mostly, poor. The OCR had huge problems with monospaced fonts. But that was some years ago, as I must admit.

And handwriting plays of course in a completely other league …
Author’s Preface

I wrote this book in less than two hours. I think I’ve made as much of it as one could in such a short time.

Eugen Egner, Androids from Milk

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xiamenese
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Thu Sep 23, 2010 2:57 am Post

I think OCR has made great strides, at least with printed sources. For a number of reasons I use PDFPen Pro which comes with built-in OCR. I have found with printed documents, even when the image is quite degraded — say a scan of a photocopy from a book with stiff covers which has a significant curvature of the page and loss of luminance at the spine — the OCR will turn well over 90% into ordinary text that requires very little correction, certainly a fraction of the amount of effort and time that retyping the page would consume.

My only problem is that it doesn't yet handle Chinese, though they tell me that will come in due course ... no doubt at a significant price! :?

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Jot
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Tue Nov 30, 2010 7:56 am Post

Well, I've been using my Livescribe pen for two months and I can honestly say I love it. I even ended up buying a small notebook type pad as well as the A5 books, as it's just easier to lug around (I like travelling light these days).

Although I didn't finish NaNo, it has made a huge difference to me and it's great to just plug it in and convert the stuff to text (using MyScript) and then plonk it into Scrivener. Because I don't record sound, I'm using only a fraction of its storage capacity and I'm getting over a week between charges.

Pro-tip: If you get interrupted while you're writing, check to make sure the pen hasn't turned itself off while you were on the phone. Writing a few pages only to discover that you're using "just pen & paper" can be a real downer.
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michaelbywater
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Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:15 pm Post

That's interesting. I thought the script-to-text converter for the Livescribe pen was Windows-only.

In case anyone's interested, I wrote a piece on the Livescribe Echo here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/everything-starts-with-the-pen-2109252.html

Good in meetings, not so good for thinking to oneself, I found. But the combination of (theoretically) script-to-text conversion, audio location (tap on the page to hear the recording you were making at the time you wrote that note) and "automatic scanning" is pretty compelling.