Livescribe Pulse Smartpen: Changing the Way We Work

Several years ago the concept of digital pens reached a mainstream environment. These were pens that interacted with special paper to either digitize what was written, provide information or something else. The FLYPEN was one of the first to arrive on the market. At the time, I thought it a waste of time, something I would never end up buying because I could see no use for getting digitized copies of everything I wrote down. I also wasn’t willing to pay several hundred dollars for one.

Then a company named Anoto began creating this “dot paper”, paper with a printed dot pattern to make digitization and interaction better for smartpens. Anoto released their own pen and that looked interesting, yet at the time I was still unable to see the need for one.

Last year, I started looking into a new company, Livescribe that created the Pulse Smartpen. This was looking rather interesting. Anoto dot paper technology, java based software and “penlets”, 1gb of storage space, and the ability to record audio while taking notes. All of a sudden, this device began to look rather interesting.

In my day to day life, I end up taking a lot of notes. Though I do normally have a computer with me, it’s not always feasible to use it for note-taking. For example, when creating diagrams or any type of drawing, using a laptop touchpad is just plain horrible and results in sub-par quality assuming it’s even legible at all. For this reason, the Pulse Smartpen was looking appealing. I received it as a birthday present and immediately decided to put it through a test. I was given the new 2gb model of the Pulse Smartpen.

Included in the box is:

  • 1 Pulse Smartpen (2gb or 4gb)
  • 1 Starter Notebook
  • 1 Ink Cartridge Refill
  • Quick Start Guide
  • USB Portable Docking Station
  • 3d Audio Recording Headset

The Pulse uses an infrared camera to read the dots on special paper to figure out where it is (dot-positioning-system) and from there records all of the strokes you make on the page, instantly digitizing everything you write in your own handwriting! With audio recording, and the ability to design your own paper and penlets with java, for it’s cost this pen seems like a very nice deal.

Within two days of having, and using it, I found my notetaking habits were vastly changed. The pen truly revolutionizes the way people work. The pen came before the keyboard and many times it’s much better than the keyboard. With the pulse, you get the best of both worlds, digital and a PEN! The ability to record audio and link it to written text on the base is a major plus point of the pulse. In practice, this allows you to either write less and listen more, then add more notes later. It also provides a failsafe incase you forget to write something down. You can always listen to it.

The best part of the Pulse’s design in my opinion, is that the only button is the power button. All of the other “buttons” are relocated onto the bottom of the journal & notebook pages. Called “Paper Replay,” they allow you to control audio and the entire pens settings as well.

So all together, Livescribe’s software, and Pulse SmartPen have changed the way I work. I no longer need to pull out my laptop or netbook for everything. I can just use my SmartPen and it’s paper and then have all the information needed on my netbook when I get a chance! I highly recommend Livescribe and I’m sure that once you try it, you will too!

20 thoughts on “Livescribe Pulse Smartpen: Changing the Way We Work

  1. Ken Schmidt

    Anoto's technology is truly fascinating. Did you know that if you put all of the available unique Anoto pattern on a single page it would be 60,000,000 square kilometers which is larger than Europe and Asia combined? If you cut the pattern into Letter or A4 size paper it would create 70,000,000,000,000 (70 Trillion) sheets of unique paper?

    Not necessarily trying to plug, but I am the tech support manager for ExpeData, LLC ( and I get to work with this awesome technology every day!

  2. Kelly

    Hi, I noticed you posted about livescribe and its lack of graph paper. Were you able to create some that you could share? I'm starting school soon and am interested in purchasing a digital pen but only if I can use graph paper with it since my area of study is architecture. Thank you very much.

  3. Pingback: Release: Printable Graphpads for Livescribe! | Rohan Kapoor

  4. Diana DeLeon

    I saw your allusion to Java, so, with no prior history of commenting in any way, shape, or form, much less slamming anything on their site, I tried to post the following on the LiveScribe Forum under the title SOFTWARE DEPENDENCIES:

    “What does LiveScribe Desktop require that I have installed on my computer? For example, must I have Java? Must I have Javascript enabled? How many of the problems that users are experiencing using the Desktop are intertwined with such dependencies? If there are dependencies such as these, has LiveScribe made sure to have its computer code written to test for the presence of such required third party software, and then to give the user a clear set of instructions instead of something that only the computer coder can even begin to guess at? Instead of simply failing to perform?”

    Instantaneously when I clicked Submit I received this back:

    “You have been banned for the following reason: No reason was specified. Date the ban will be lifted: Never”

  5. Technology Gadgets

    I've been looking at these pens for quite some time. But the lack of mac was the only stumbling block. I use a moleskin notebook day in / day out to take notes for work, and end up transposing my notes into emails, this should make my life much easier, but will probably pi$$ off my team, who will not get images instead of notes from me, but hey that's the price of progress :-)

  6. Piet

    I am having the same problem with bbPress end WP only. Nothing happens when updating the options.
    The given sample-directory is not correct /bbp-admin/ rather than /bb-admin.

    Also the forum link ends-up on an advertisement page rather than a forum.

  7. Hernan Urbina

    hello, I'm a university student doing a communication project. We have a task: Contemporary global communication includes Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) and others forms of communication that utilizes some form of technology. This project encourages you to explore historical and current practices of communication and invites you to assess ways in which technology informs, enhances, or limits best practices for communication within academic or professional field.

    My group and I were fascinated by LiveScribe Smart Pen, is there any specific site where we could get additional information on this magnificent product? perhaps the history, advantages, ect.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


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