Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Office of Tomorrow : Smart Pens

Making copious notes, meetings, diagrams, sketches... Today has been a day all about the pen, I'm one of the few developers around the place whom always has a pile of scrap paper and a bunch of coloured pens in order to express an idea.  Many of the projects I help with, or developers I point back into the right direction leave my desk with a lot of notes written out.

The trouble with this however, is I've just been tasked with finding a way to reduce the amount of paper going across everyone's desk, through the photocopiers and especially out of the printers.

I of course have no budget for this, being tasked with saving money means one is not actually able to speculate anything, even if it were in order to accumulate savings.

As such, I've discussed removing all flip charts for white boards, using apps on tablets, or smart phones (which seem ubiquitous around the place), and been thoroughly looked down upon.  Either by the owners of the devices steadfastly not wanting to use them for work purposes; which is fair; or their simply not wanting to stop using paper; which I agree with.

Unfortunately every scrap of paper used here has to go to a shredder, and as such we are paying for the paper, paying for the ink, paying for the time to put the ink on the paper, and then paying again to see it destroyed.

Those that be want something better, something digital, something progressive.

With drawing tablets already a taboo, and the insistence on not using their desktop PC's for such note making, I'm reducing the problem to something meeting three key criteria:

i) Reduce the paper usage in the long run, by digitising anything written down, and so removing the need for distributing physical copies... "Write Once, Share Forever".

ii) Leave users happy that they can still take, make, sketch or otherwise flesh out notes they take.  By hand, with a real pen.

iii) Not break the bank.

Having taken a look around, there is only one obvious candidate technology, the "Smart Pen".

This is a pen, designed to capture whatever they write from the real physical page, directly, to a digital page.  They do rely on apps, but some are generic bluetooth connected units, and so would be (I hope) fairly easy to connect to a desktop computer rather then a phone or tablet.

One can write once and indeed re-share that digital copy infinitely.

Unfortunately, the cost of entry to such ambrosia is very high, ranging from anything from £150 to £700.  

We shall have to see where this journey takes me, but certainly considering the technology of today which maybe more widely adopted, Smart Pens are high on my wish list, not least as information about them seems to sketchy.

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