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"Digital Paper"
  06/15/2000

Anoto, Ericsson and TMI have introduced new technology, which will enable consumers to use pen and paper when interacting with computers, mobile phones and the Internet. It will allow users to make a digital copy of materials that they write on paper. Once in a digital format, the information can be transmitted to almost any device capable of accessing the Internet. The Anoto technology is a combination of a proprietary pattern, advanced image processing, Bluetooth wireless technology and an Internet based infrastructure. The combination lets consumers use pen and paper in conjunction with the electronic gadgets they use on a daily basis, allowing for easier and more efficient access to them.

The new technology begins with a special kind of paper. The paper contains a unique printed pattern that allows for any position on it to be expressed with simple X and Y coordinates. The paper requires a special pen, which is the second part of the Anoto technology. The pen consists of an image processing unit, a complete digital camera, and a Bluetooth radio transceiver. The third part of the technology is the process of acquiring and sending the newly digital information.

Combining the three steps allows for anything written on the paper to be sent to a myriad of devices. As a message is written on the special paper with the Anoto pen, the digital camera located on the pen takes pictures of the grid. This information is processed, and the needed materials can then transmitted to a mobile phone, PDA (Personal Digital Assistant) or PC via the wireless Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth is a specification for a small, low-cost radio solution providing links and Internet connectivity between mobile computers, mobile phones and other portable handheld devices such as PDAs. The Bluetooth specification has support from industry heavyweights like 3Com, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Lucent, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Toshiba, not to mention hundreds or thousands of companies that have used the technology in product development.

Anoto hopes that by releasing their technology first, they will create an open standard for digital paper. In fact, they are now inviting other parties to develop products, applications and services around the technology. Among other things, Anoto is hoping their solution can solve a variety of problems including the time-consuming tasks of re-entering handwritten notes or easier data collection.

The three partners have each provided a piece to this puzzle. Anoto developed the Pen and Paper, Ericsson provided its expertise in Bluetooth wireless technology and mobile telephones, and TMI developed the first product that utilizes the Anoto tools. The new product is being described as the world's first digital time manager planning tool. It will be used to take handwritten notes, figures, drawings or any other materials and then transcribe them to a PC at the touch of a button.

  - by Clayton Crooks

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