Digital writing has now become a reality for consumers with the release of the Logitech io, a pen and paper system that "remembers" what you write, capturing up to 40 pages of handwriting at a time and enabling transfer to PC via a USB cradle. Because it uses normal ink, the system provides all the advantages of electronic storage with the still unbeaten convenience of a using a pen and a pad - carrying the laptop to meetings becomes obsolete and emails can be scribbled down while riding the bus to work.

The breakthrough technology behind the digital pen was developed by Swedish-based Anoto (see Gizmag article 1286) and uses uses an optical sensor to "read" handwriting when the io is used on the special pre-printed pad. This barely visible pre-existing pattern is the key to enabling digital storage and several paper manufacturers including MeadWestvaco and 3M were involved in achieving this functionality.

"Logitech is taking a very different approach to digital writing for the PC," said David Henry, senior vice president and general manager of Logitech's Control Devices Business Unit. "While other attempts at pen input have started with the PC, with the goal of making the PC more friendly, our point of departure is pen and paper, with the goal of making these elements more effective in the digital world.

Handwritten information can be exported to a range of programs including Microsoft Word and Adobe Illustrator, and the system can be synched with calendars in Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, or any MAPI-supported email application. They can also create Post-it(R) Note reminders on their PC desktop.Logitech announced the launch of io in Europe and the US during September but no word as yet on a local release date. The complete system starter kit costs US$199.