Logitech's Digital Pen Slims Down

Logitech this week introduced a new version of its digital pen, which can digitize handwritten text. The new model features increased storage capacity and improved handwriting recognition capabilities, according to the company.

The $200 Logitech IO2 Digital Writing System includes the digital pen and software that can convert the digitized handwriting into Microsoft documents, plain text files, or JPEG images, among other file types, according to Vanessa Mills, senior marketing manager at Logitech.

A camera behind the pen's ballpoint tip reads the text on special digital paper and records the pen strokes into its flash memory. Digital paper is normal paper that contains thousands of individual dots used to plot the movement of pen strokes. The pen can write on normal paper, but in that case it won't record the data. It only records data from special paper sold by Logitech and a few other vendors, including MeadWestvaco, Mills says.

Digital pens make handwritten notes searchable after they have been converted into text, Mills says. Hospitals have found the digital pens handy as personnel can instantly digitize medical records, she says. In addition to targeting the vertical markets, Logitech is also working with Salesforce.com so sales teams can instantly digitize documents into Salesforce.com's CRM software.

New Features

The new IO2 Digital Pen is about 30 percent smaller than the Logitech IO, which was launched late last year, Mills says. The IO2 Digital Pen is 0.85 inches wide, 6.17 inches long, and weighs 1.3 ounces. The flash memory in the pen has been increased to 40MB.

"For insurance agents, the [Digital Pen] can now hold 200 forms as opposed 100 forms," Mills says.

A USB 2.0 charger cradle can transfer the digitized handwritten documents from the pen's flash memory to the computer using the IO2 Software.

A new software-based training module for the system, the MyScript Notes Trainer, can train the pen to understand an individual's handwriting. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes of training for the pen to understand a person's handwriting, Mills says. But the better the handwriting, the better accuracy of text conversion, Mills says.

The pen now can also store "identities," or handwriting profiles for different individuals, says Karen Hoskins, a company spokesperson. The company developed the handwriting recognition software with France-based Vision Objects, Mills says.

The IO2 Digital Writing System comes with the Digital Pen, one notebook and one notepad measuring 8.5 inches by 11 inches each, one travel notepad measuring 3.75 inches by 5.5 inches, color identification tags to individualize the pen, and five ink refills. The IO2 Software is compatible with Windows XP and Windows 2000.

The IO2 Digital Writing System will become available in the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. in late September. The spokesperson could not comment on availability in other countries. A set of three 120-page digital paper notebooks measuring 8.5 inches by 11 inches costs $14.95 on Logitech's Web site.

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