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Livescribe Pulse Smartpen Takes Notes, Records Audio and Now Comes with an App Store

by Robert E. Calem on November 20, 2009

Livescribe Pulse SmartpenI have been an ardent user of the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen, a combination pen, digital audio recorder and handwriting capture device, ever since it debuted two years ago (See Take Notes Digitally). It has dramatically improved the way I work. With the pen capturing everything that’s said, I no longer worry about writing fast enough to put everything to paper. And recalling the perfect quote is a simple pen tap away—or a mouse-click away, once I've transferred my handwriting and audio to my computer using the included Livescribe Desktop software.

Livescribe ApplicationsNow, Livescribe is adding even more utility to the Pulse Smartpen with the launch of a new online Application Store, where there are more than 30 free and paid programs, in categories ranging from productivity and reference tools to travel, education, games and entertainment.

For example, one series of programs converts English phrases for travelers into foreign languages—Spanish, French, German, Japanese or Korean—and plays the spoken translation through the pen’s speaker while displaying its written text on the pen’s sharp looking monotone display. Another program, U.S. State Facts, displays the names of state trees, birds, flowers and mottos, among other information, for all 50 states. Magic Yad uses the pen’s audio capabilities to teach Hebrew chanting and is aimed at Bar Mitzvah boys and Bat Mitzvah girls. There’s even a World Series Champions application that gives the results of all World Series games by year, including team names, the final score and the name of the game’s most valuable player.

And this is only the initial selection, because the Livescribe Application Store is currently in its “beta” or test phase. Besides Livescribe itself, there are more than 5,500 other software developers that have contributed to or are working on software for the store, Livescribe says.

Adding an application to the Pulse Smartpen is as simple as downloading it from the store to the Livescribe Desktop software, and then syncing the pen to Livescribe Desktop by placing it in its special dock, which links to a PC or a Mac via a USB port. (The latest version of Livescribe Desktop, version 2.0, is required.)

All of the applications are accessed and controlled using the Pulse Smartpen and dot paper. Each dot represents the coordinates of a location on the page and, as you write, the pen’s camera uses them to record both an image of your handwriting or drawing and where on the page you laid down the ink. Simply draw the controls for the application on a sheet of dot paper—the application tells you what to draw—and you're ready to go.

Livescribe Pulse SmartpenLivescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen ($170): Buy Now at

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