Io: A Pen That Could Cause PC Envy

There is nothing on the PC platform that would make most Mac users envious, that is until they see Logitechis Io Pen in action.

Io is a pen, but not just any pen. Imagine youire out and about, during your day you jot down on paper a friendis address and phone number, schedule a visit to the vet for your dog Fluffy Puff Ball, write down a list of things you need to do to set up that surprise party for your boss, jot down the license number of the jerk who just cut you off in traffic, all sorts of notes. Now, imagine that your pen remembers everything youive written and it allows you to organize and categorize your jottings, further, imagine that, upon arriving home, you put your pen in a holder and all of your handwritten data gets automagically downloaded to your computer and each file gets put into the proper folder or your calendar gets updated with your new appointments. Would that be cool or what? Thatis just what the Io Pen does. Logitechis press release says this:

Logitech today announced its entry into a new market?digital writing?with the launch of the Logitech? io?, a personal digital pen, at IDGis DEMOMobile 2002 Conference in La Jolla, Calif.

With the Logitech io pen, users can easily share, store, organize and retrieve their handwritten information by simply writing with ink on paper the way they have for thousands of years. An optical sensor embedded in the pen captures the handwritten images, storing up to 40 pages in memory. This captured digital information can then be transferred into the PC by synching the pen via a USB cradle. The Logitech? io? solution offers total mobility, since all that is necessary to carry is the pen and a digital paper notebook.

Available in November in the U.S. and select countries in Europe, the Logitech io uses functionality developed by Anoto, a company whose pen-and-paper technology is emerging as a new standard for digital writing. The pen itself is the key component of an ecosystem that includes leading paper manufacturers?Mead Cambridge Notebooks from MeadWestvaco, Post-it? Notes from 3M and productivity tools from FranklinCovey? in the U.S., and the Groupe Hamelin in Europe?combined with Logitechis proprietary software. Suggested U.S. retail price for the complete system starter kit is $199.

"Logitech is taking a very different approach to digital writing for the PC," said David Henry, senior vice president and general manager of Logitechis Control Devices Business Unit. "While other attempts at pen input have started with the PC, with the goal of making the PC more friendly, our point of departure is pen and paper, with the goal of making these elements more effective in the digital world.

"With the Logitech io, thereis no need to change the way you work, or to lug your PC to meetings," Mr. Henry continued. "We believe this product will be well received by todayis mobile workforce, as well as consumers who are looking to be more effective and creative with their note taking."

The digital paper that enables the capture of handwritten notes contains patented pre-printed tiny dots, which form a light screen effect. This pattern is read by an optical sensor embedded in the pen, which then stores the information in non-volatile memory until the pen is docked in its USB cradle.

Upon docking the Logitech io pen, users can export their handwritten information to popular applications such as Microsoft? Word, Adobe? Illustrator and calendaring tools including Microsoft? Outlook, Lotus Notes?, or any MAPI-supported email application. They can also create Post-it? Note reminders on their PC desktop. Note takers can also categorize and search their handwritten documents through the support of limited handwriting recognition by means of ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) fields.

"The myth of the paperless office has not come true," said Christer F?hraeus, founder and chief executive officer of Anoto. "People everywhere are still using pen and paper in the majority of note taking situations, struggling with how best to merge the information that they want to have available in their PC with their everyday habits."

At launch, the Logitech io retail package will include the pen, a rapid-charging USB cradle, Logitech io Software, one Mead Cambridge Limited Digital Notebook, Post-it? Software Notes-Lite and one pocketbook of Post-it? Notes for Digital Pens from 3M, an AC adaptor and five ink refills. Later this year, FranklinCovey will also introduce FranklinCovey? iScribe Digital Planning Pages for use with the Logitech io pen.

The only downside that we can see is that there is no Mac version of the pen. (Sigh!)

Stop by Logitech for more imformation about the Io pen.