Gadgets for Research: Tech Review

The Open Exeter project team recently introduced us PGRs to an interesting gadget that might start appearing on researchers’ wish lists. It’s called the Livescribe Echo Smartpen and I’ve been given one to test drive for a few weeks.

It’s really a very simple concept; whatever you write with the smartpen is converted to typed text. Sounds perfect for fieldwork when it might be difficult to carry a laptop with you. All you do is make fairly legible handwritten notes in a standard-sized notebook, which comes with the pen. This is then stored on the pen and can be downloaded and converted to text on your computer later. You can even record audio notes on the pen to go along with what you’re writing.
I’ve been using the pen for the past few days, which has meant I can work outside and take advantage of the great weather. The verdict so far is 10/10. It’s not much bigger than a standard pen but this amazing gadget can hold pages of handwritten notes for conversion to text later and copes remarkably well with my less-than-ideal handwriting.

All in all, the Echo Smartpen is a convenient way of creating research data such as field notes, which could save researchers a considerable amount of time and effort especially if they need to digitise their notes for archiving. However, at around £100 it might not be the top priority for researchers with a limited expenses budget.

Check back later for more Gadgets for Research blog posts including a review of dictation software and iPad apps.

Posted under Follow the Data

This post was written by Philip Dennis Bremner on May 23, 2012


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