Forget about SmartPhones use a SmartPen ;-)

LiveScribe SmartPen is an amazing technology built into a pen ( I saw comparable technology some years ago coupled with webcasting from Tegrity ( with Tegrity notes. Tegrity notes simply linked your personal notes written on special paper with the webcast of a live seminar, so basically after the lecture you have lots of possibilities to explore your notes, the online stream, and the slides shown. This basically gives you a variety of access cues to learning content. Interesting options developed from that can be seen now with Tegrity iPhone apps. This is basically a mix of instant feedback system and webcast annotation tool. As far as I get the idea one can whilst sitting in class annotate the lecture with a simple interface like a word track changes and annotation tool. This on the one hand can be used as a feedback instrument for educators where there presentation or talk was unclear on the other hand for learners also in combination with shared peer annotations.

I did not follow up this technology in the last two years and came across LiveScribe SmartPen today. To pack the functionality of a voice recorder, notes recorder into a pen is a smart idea but this seems to be much more as it makes your paper and your drawings interactive. A really nice example is the translation demo, so write a word on the paper and the pen translates it for you, or draw a piano keyboard on the paper to play some music. Some demos in the video here or a marketing one here.

Furthermore of course there is also an app store for SmartPen, so I think we can broaden the concept of the Apple App Store to other objects in your world, so whats about an app store for a pan (lots of cooking apps), an app store for a table, one for your cupboard, off course for your car …

LiveScribe also offers an SmartPen SDK ( development of Penlets is in Java and integrated with Eclipse.

The interesting thing about a pen is that it becomes multimodal and off course the preferred modality for the digital media is audio as you are already writing with the pen. I think in general lots of these kinds of apps built on the principles of reflection in action and reflection about action from Donald Schön. The important point is that the good technologies in this category offer well focused support for a dedicated forms of activity in a learning process.

So more to come of PenLets, CarLets, PlateLets, ForkLets, ShirtLets …