So I broke down and bought the Livescribe Echo, which I mentioned on my other blog. I’m really impressed. It does a lot of things, right, particularly its choice of demo apps. It’s the first piece of technology I’ve owned in a long time that I just don’t know how it works.
Well, that’s a little bit of an overstatement. The pen has a camera pointing down the barrel of the ink cartridge, and when you press down, it looks at the pattern of dots and determines from that where, on what page, in what pre-saved notebook it’s looking at. It only records what’s written when it’s on: I tried writing a bit with the pen (with power off) then turning the power on and drawing a line through it, and it only recorded the line. I suspect from that, and looking at how it picks up the lighter strokes in my handwriting, that it’s not actually recording the sight of a line being laid down, but the position of the pen relative to the dots while pressure is on. (Which means that I really need to press down more firmly while writing!) But I don’t know what it is about the dot pattern that makes it recognize where it is so well.
As for usage:
I doubt I’m often going to use the recording feature: lectures and meetings, most often, so maybe once or twice a week, depending on whether my coworkers are leery of it. It would be nice to bring to Viable Paradise in the fall, but I’m not sure whether recording devices are allowed. I’ll ask at some point. (Did I mention I got in? I got in! It gives me hope that I might actually manage to publish something, and thereby become an author instead of merely a liar!)
I’ve also found that the handwriting recognition does a very poor job with my exceedingly poor handwriting. I can’t decide whether editing the results of OCR would be better than simply retyping what I write. So, I probably won’t be jotting down blog posts or anything.
However, even without those features, I really like the pen: I constantly lose notebooks (and pens, actually...) and the idea of having my writing backed up greatly appeals to me. I had been taking photos of my notebook and storing them in Evernote, but it’s a cumbersome process and I have issues with proper rotation.
I’m also intrigued by its SDK, the ability to create my own applications and my own paper. It would be pretty cool to be able to print up maps that it recognizes, and then plot out character movements from room to room, then go back and ask it where certain characters were at particular times.