Expressive Pen!

January 15, 2008

From New Scientist –

“Now the consumer electronics company Philips says it has a breakthrough that could change the way we use pens forever.

What the standard pen does not do so easily, Philips notes, is record the mood of the writer at the moment of writing. So it has developed a pen with sensors in its shaft that detect physiological factors, such as heart beat, blood pressure, skin temperature, and finger pressure.

The pen also has a small actuator that can change the properties of the line that the pen traces out by switching inks and modifying the shape of the writing tip. A built-in chip then determines the writer’s emotional state and changes the colour and quality of the trace accordingly. The result is a pen that produces a continuous record of how the user felt while writing.”

I like this idea. I’ve kept a journal for years and  change writing material along with mood etc so a quick flick of the pages gives a pretty good visualisation of my state of mind, without actually needing to read the content. (I’m currently journaling with a wooden pencil – very retro. I wonder what that says about my life at the present moment.)

Although as with a lot of technology, I don’t see how this necessary value-adds hugely to my life since the same result can be achieved at low barriers to entry (by changing from a blue biro to a pink pen!) Cheryl thinks of the millions of dollars that the Americans spent developing a pen that can write in space and the Russians just sent up their astronauts up with pencils…

Actually, one interesting (and far simpler) extension of this would be for your keyboard to track the pressure / speed at which you type and other behavioural signals. Hypothetically, if you were typing an angst-ridden email to someone you didn’t like, how you would type it – banging away at the keyboard etc – would be different. Oooo!!! If the keyboard detected you were angsty, maybe it could send a signal to itunes to change to more soothing music! Haha.


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