Thursday, May 3, 2012

All about Pens

I used to like sending postcards to my friends. Now it is almost impossible to decipher what I write. There was a time when writing was the only way to self-discovery.

These days I try to avoid writing. I take my laptop for meetings instead of a paper and a pen. I take notes on my phone or PC. Yet there are situations when the use of a pen really cannot be avoided. Then, I find I must avoid cursive writing if I want to read it. 

Recently, a fourth grade student designed a pen  for visually impaired children to better recognize shapes and letters. And just out of a small spool of yarn, paper clip and a paper cup attached to a hollowed out pen! 

I thought I'll do a post on two pen systems for low vision which might be useful for different people depending on their needs.

PenFriend - RNIB's voice labeling system, PenFriend,  has been there since some time now and still very useful for both low vision and the blind. You can record your voice onto dime sized self-adhesive labels that you can stick on any household objects. And then touch it again with the pen and listen to the label/note. Unlike the demo video, I can still distinguish between a can of tomatoes and a can of beans. I really liked the idea about voice labels on medicines. Especially I find it difficult to read the expiry dates and sometimes I don't know what I'm popping has long expired. It can be useful for prescriptions and labeling important documents and posts which are unreadable.  These stickers can also be used as tiny reminders or notes that I can stick on pretty much everything and anywhere.It comes with a 70 hour of recording time and you can also download mp3 and audiobooks on it from your PC. PenFriend is available over Amazon for $125 and comes with 125 labels. Extra labels would need to be purchased. A pack of 381 labels is for $30.

Livescribe Echo SmartPen - This is more of a recorder pen that lets you record everything you hear,say or write. Add voice notes to handwritten notes and convert these handwritten notes to digital by using an app. Just like the SmartPen labels, Livescribe also requires a Livescribe paper which has a pattern of dots that enables to recognize and record pen writing movements. A very useful device for those who do not use or carry around their iPad or iPhone, in a classroom or in a meeting or for maintaining an agenda or a diary. It is priced at $134 for a 4GB Echo SmartPen. Livescribe claims that the special compatible paper can be printed but most reviewers seem to contradict this point. Lot of people have also complained that the handwriting recognition app MyScript doesn't recognize correctly even the clearest of handwriting. And if you need to record or write a lot, the cost of paper will soon add up to be more than the cost of a smartphone or an accessible all purpose tablet. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Penfriend is indeed the most uncomplicated and useful device for VIPs. I gifted one to my father last year and it is really cool!