The Ballpoint Pen with a Digital Brain


With the rise of smart, connected gadgets – from doorknobs to fitness trackers – it’s no surprise that somebody digitized an object as old school as the pen. More surprising is that it’s actually useful. The Livescribe 3 Smartpen is the perfect device for anybody still committed to taking notes by hand – in classes, meetings, interviews, wherever. Using a built-in infrared camera, and special Livescribe paper lined with tiny, barely visible dots, the pen automatically transfers your handwritten pages to a mobile app for digital safekeeping. A bit bulkier than a fine fountain pen, the Livescribe 3 is simple to set up: Just a twist of the middle ring of the pen connects it to a mobile app via Bluetooth LE and, almost immediately, notes are transferred to your iOS device.

While it’s nice to have a record of your doodles and thoughts (the app will also convert parts of your writing to digital text and even hyperlink a location to automatically open in Maps ), the coolest feature is the ability to record audio on your phone during your meeting and sync it to your notes. If you later tap your notes in the app, you’ll get a playback of exactly what was being said at the time of writing. It’s a bit cumbersome to have your phone out for recording, but it’s super useful for situations where you need to recall an exact quote (or if you’re a light note taker). Sure you can buy about a hundred Bics for the price, but if your looking for a way to digitally streamline your scribbles you won’t be disappointed. [$150;]