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Lernstift digital pen vibrates to indicate bad spelling, grammar and penmanship

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February 6, 2013

The Lernstift digital pen

The Lernstift digital pen

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Use digital technology long enough and you start to become dependent upon it for such mundane tasks as spell checking. That means when you pick up a garden variety ballpoint pen you’re back in dictionary and “I before E except after C” territory. Like LiveScribe, the creators of the Lernstift digital pen hope to bring handwriting into the 21st century by having the pen vibrate to indicate when the writer makes spelling and grammatical errors or exhibits poor penmanship.

Currently under development, the Lernstift (German for "learning pen") is powered by Linux and contains €50 to €80 (US$68 to US$109) worth of smartphone electronics in a thermoplastic or aluminum body. It uses motion sensors to trace movements and detect errors. If a mistake is found, the pen vibrates to alert the writer.

The Lernstift pen operates in two modes. In Calligraphy Mode, it warns of mistakes in penmanship, while in Orthography Mode it detects spelling and grammatical errors – vibrating once for the former and twice for the latter. The sensors allow the pen to recognize writing even in the air so it can be used to write text messages without a writing surface. But for the less adventurous, it has a standard ballpoint pen inside.

Cutaway view of the Lernstift digital pen
Cutaway view of the Lernstift digital pen

The Lernstift is in two generations of development. The first generation, which is due for a release mid-2013, the pen will be equipped with motion sensors and a word recognition system. Meanwhile, the second generation, which is slated for early 2014, will have a pressure sensor added. Its function is to help children understand the proper way to hold and press a pen. Press too hard and the pen vibrates. Another area of development is a network module that will allow the pen to connect to Wi-Fi to allow it to share data.

The company is currently seeking investors and says that the Lernstift will be available in August of this year.

The video in German below shows off the Lernstift prototype.

Source: Lernstift via Wired UK

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.   All articles by David Szondy
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9 Comments

Awesome! I assume it's going to be available in major languages such as German and English, but not in minor languages, at least for the spelling and grammar. The Calligraphy mode will still work. It would be great if there were a little window on the pen, showing how a misspelled word should be spelled, how it was spelled, and the times it was misspelled. With the wifi connection to the web individual classes and exercises could be tailored.

Gadgety
7th February, 2013 @ 12:22 am PST

It is no good just having 'English' as an option, there are several versions of the English language, depending on one's location. Whilst not vastly different, they are sufficiently so, to make this pen worthless if it persuades the writer to misspell or produce grammatical errors.

I assume this was invented by someone who has never lost a pen. It is one thing losing a cheap and cheerful one, as I do all too frequently , but this item, whilst quite cheerful, will be far from cheap.

An alternative use, however, would be indoor skywriting. With all those movement sensors it is half-way there already. All it lacks is a smoke canister and a miniature quadcopter to carry it. It would spawn a whole new field of advertising. Imagine a boring old Powerpoint presentation interspersed with a fleet of quadcopters zooming into the room and writing in the air just in front of the screen the take home points that the attendees are meant to absorb, all in different colours, of course!

Mel Tisdale
7th February, 2013 @ 04:35 am PST

Not to mention the fact that the pen is so fat and awful that the "penmanship" is going to be ruined anyway. If you need a pressure sensor telling people how to write, you've got problems. Get them a fountain pen that is requires a delicate touch. That's how I learned my oft praised penmanship.

calvinkid
7th February, 2013 @ 07:33 am PST

plz define bad spelling and who decides. is (K)nife bad spelling am i so unintelligent that i'm incapable of understanding VACUUM that i think vacume is OK and is OK, OK. how many of U have ever tried to develop Ur own programming (why do i need 2 M's in programming) in voice recognition utilizing English, it's absolutely insane!!

slayerwulfe cave

slayerwulfe
7th February, 2013 @ 08:41 am PST

What a great idea! Congratulations for coming up with a new-tech product that actually EDUCATES during normal use. I could see these pens being used in classrooms everywhere.

As far as some of the comments (above) go, maybe each user could just download his exact language (e.g., American English) so the pen could hold the correct spelling/grammar rules. Regarding cost, I don't see why it couldn't end up being in the US $10-$20 range once it's rolled out in its final form; it's not like the components would be very expensive.

Fritz Menzel
7th February, 2013 @ 12:23 pm PST

An educational vibrator. Who wood have thort?

nutcase
8th February, 2013 @ 01:00 am PST

It is planned to provide the pen in different languages in future versions. Those language versions also will allow localized versions (e.g. American English, British English, ...). In later version the pen will be extensible using apps which will extend the functionality of the Lernstift even further.

I personally like the idea of the Lernstift a lot and already gave my support and the support of my company (the online training marketplace http://tutorize.com). We hope to be able to cooperate with the lernstift to provide teachers ways to for example supervise the homework better.

Michael Morgen
11th February, 2013 @ 07:12 am PST

Indiana kids soon won't even know what "penmanship" is.

SEE: http://bit.ly/X6gZzR

Other states are following suit.

Huge mistake.

Gregg DesElms
13th February, 2013 @ 05:57 pm PST

Well, I guess the days of being able to preserve privacy by using a pen are over as well. How long till all pens are equipped with devices that can record what you write the way phones are now alleged to be able to track its owner even when off.

Tacky-on
17th February, 2013 @ 11:35 am PST
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