CES 2012: Be careful what you write -- your iPad will be watching


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Some of us just love to write on paper -- even those devoted to digital devices.

As addicted as I am to tech, I’m an analog paper hog, with drawer after drawer filled with notebooks, notepads and empty journals. No matter how quick or proficient I get at tapping on my virtual keyboards, I’m not really a ‘screen writer.’ I still prefer to physically write to help me remember.


And my notepads and my tech tools never connect -- unless I shoot a photo of what’s on paper.

Targus plans to marry writing and technology on a new device, iNotebook, around June or July to let you write on regular paper and transfer what you’ve written onto your iPad. It’s expected to cost $150.

The iNotebook itself really is the combination of an iPad app, the case, a transmitter/recorder and a special pen that connects with it.

How it works is that the transmitter sits above the page and watches you write with the special pen via infrared sensor and records what you write. Then through the app and a Bluetooth connection with your iPad, it shoots over your words -- or doodles -- in your very own hand almost simultaneously.

The downside: There’s no optical character recognition. So what you write is what you get. As a result, there may be no visual character recognition either, depending on your handwriting.

Indeed, when Targus’ marketing vice president Al Giazzon used it, he said the result was ‘exactly as bad as my handwriting is.’ Accuracy in motion. (If this takes off, we might see what a detrimental effect our ubiquitous typing and and tapping has had on penmanship.)

On the plus side for those of us still juggling iPads and notepads, you don’t actually have to pull out your tablet from your bag unless you want to watch the near-instant transfer of your noodling and doodling. And really, you don’t even have to have the iPad on hand. The small transmitter can store up what you’ve written in its memory buffer for transfer later.

‘You would have to write a manuscript to fill the buffer,’ Giazzon said.

Targus expects to release a black leather portfolio first with plans to expand the color palette later. The special IR ink pen will have an iPad stylus on the other end. The photo above is a prototype, with style and usability tweaks to come from focus groups and designers over the next few months, Giazzon said.

Who’s the target for iNotebook? Targus expects interest in the school and business markets -- ‘Anywhere where writing is fast,’ Giazzon said.


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-- Michelle Maltais