For those Luddites who prefer to write with pen and paper but would still like to be able to back up their notes and ideas digitally, there is now an elegant solution.
Moleskine's latest digital adventure, aptly named the Smart Writing Set, is a journal-and-ink set that records your scribblings as you put them on the page. It looks ordinary. It's anything but: The notebook—proper name, the Paper Tablet—is made with technically advanced paper that has code built into its pages.
The Pen (technically, the "Pen+"), records such data as the page number and the word's exact location on the page. It's a real pen, with real ink, used as any writing implement is. But it has an added flash drive function (hook it up to your phone, computer, or tablet and download) and a teeny, tiny camera, too, which documents every stroke, thick or thin, elegant or not.
A free-to-download app then transforms your thoughts and doodles into files. If you want to e-mail a page to someone, simply click on the envelope icon on the top right corner of each paper page. Share with one or with many—how you do that is up to you. As Peter Jensen, Moleskine's head of digital innovation and the former head of digital development at Lego, says, "Creativity should be platform agnostic."
The new set is the next generation digital product from Moleskine. It has developed smart notebooks in recent years with Evernote that require snapping a photo of a page and transmitting via an Evernote app. Early steps in this direction also included the LiveScribe Notebook by Moleskine, with similar functionality. LiveScribe has been making smart pens, digital paper, and the software to make them work together for nearly a decade.
This is just the tool for people who like hand writing in journals but want to keep their memories safe in case a notebook gets lost or damaged. It's also great for the constantly scrawling and regularly losing sorts out there—or those who'd rather write, not type. And upon testing, it worked effortlessly—giving the sense that a whole new world has been opened up for creativity and speed.
Added functionality includes a Transcribe button in the app that reads your handwriting, with about 80 percent accuracy, according to Moleskine, and allows you to export the notes as a text file and drop them into your next Prezi report.
You have to give Moleskine credit for helping to narrow the paper-digital divide while staying true to the original notebook introduced by designer Maria Sebregondi in Italy in 1997. Much of this is Moleskine understanding its own strengths and weaknesses: The set was developed with smartpen maker Neolab, and it feels just like that classic old journal beloved around the world.
The possibilities here are many, and your penmanship (and doodling) are sure to improve.
$199; available at Moleskine.com