I’ve had my livescribe pen for a couple of weeks now and have started to settle down into a bit of a routine with it. I suspect this routine will change a little as I continue to experiment, but here’s how I’m currently using it. I also have a few ideas that would improve its usefulness to me.

As I mentioned previously the livescribe pen records your penstrokes, writing and drawing, and also records audio. When you play it back afterwards you can tap on some ink on the page and hear what was being said at the time you wrote it. That’s great for clarifying your notes. While you are playing back such a recording, if you make further ink notes they are properly synchronised with the audio as if you’d written them the first time. This makes it very easy to review the recording of a meeting and make comprehensive notes, better notes than you could make if you were writing them “live”. It also means you can pay more attention in the meeting itself because you know you don’t have to write down everything. I’m liking this feature much more than I thought I would. I also find the audio quality perfectly acceptable using the mic built into the pen. I’ve used it so far for recording small meetings with just a handful of people. I don’t yet know how it performs in larger meeting rooms.

So, my first new livescribe “habit” is to record pretty much everything and review it afterwards to create written notes which can then be files in Evernote. The transfer to Evernote does contain the audio too, not just the ink, so that record is retained forever.

And this leads me to my first suggestion for a new feature. While reviewing meetings some of the notes I make are about items for my (or somebody else’s) to do list. I’d love to have tasks created automatically for me, in Exchange ideally, when the notes are transferred. If the pen could recognise a special symbol drawn on the page (an empty checkbox, for example) and use that as a prompt to create a task when the data is transferred (in Livescribe Connect) that would be hugely useful. It does, of course, require hardwriting recognition to create the task description and I’m not sure the current recognition software is up to the job – it may well need some work. Many years ago I used Microsoft OneNote on a tablet PC and it had features like this that I found really useful.

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  1. Just thinking about this product a bit more after I’ve had a chance to use a stylus with my iPad2 in conjunction with some note taking software…

    I started wondering if there was an opportunity for a Livescribe product that has a stylus built in instead of a normal pen (or as well as for flexibility?) which you would use with an app on your tablet that would replace the special paper. This could give you the integration of hand-written notes & diagrams, .PDF generation for sharing as well as integration with Evernote and similar services.

    I think for that sort of feature set I’d be much more inclined to invest in this sort of tech.

    (Actually, I’ve just realised you would maybe only need a normal stylus for this, with the tablet taking care of the note taking and audio recording, so that kind of removes the need for the Livescribe product!)

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