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Intelligent Machines

Mightier Pen

Even digerati spend some time unplugged, jotting notes on paper. British Telecom has demonstrated a pen that converts scribbling motion into digital characters. Unlike the stylus found on personal digital assistants, “Smart Quill” uses ink and writes on paper. A couple of built-in accelerometers record your hieroglyphics. Back at the office, dip Smart Quill into an electronic “inkwell” that delivers the jottings to your PC. The computer interprets the motion data as text.

A prototype correctly interprets writing 95 percent of the time, says project manager John Collins at British Telecom Laboratories in Ipswich, England; but the goal is “high 90s.” Collins says British Telecom is looking for a partner to bring Smart Quill to market.

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