Use digital technology long enough and you start to become dependent upon it for such mundane tasks as spell checking. That means when you pick up a garden variety ballpoint pen you’re back in dictionary and “I before E except after C” territory. Like LiveScribe, the creators of the Lernstift digital pen hope to bring handwriting into the 21st century by having the pen vibrate to indicate when the writer makes spelling and grammatical errors or exhibits poor penmanship.
Currently under development, the Lernstift (German for "learning pen") is powered by Linux and contains €50 to €80 (US$68 to US$109) worth of smartphone electronics in a thermoplastic or aluminum body. It uses motion sensors to trace movements and detect errors. If a mistake is found, the pen vibrates to alert the writer.
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The Lernstift pen operates in two modes. In Calligraphy Mode, it warns of mistakes in penmanship, while in Orthography Mode it detects spelling and grammatical errors – vibrating once for the former and twice for the latter. The sensors allow the pen to recognize writing even in the air so it can be used to write text messages without a writing surface. But for the less adventurous, it has a standard ballpoint pen inside.
The Lernstift is in two generations of development. The first generation, which is due for a release mid-2013, the pen will be equipped with motion sensors and a word recognition system. Meanwhile, the second generation, which is slated for early 2014, will have a pressure sensor added. Its function is to help children understand the proper way to hold and press a pen. Press too hard and the pen vibrates. Another area of development is a network module that will allow the pen to connect to Wi-Fi to allow it to share data.
The company is currently seeking investors and says that the Lernstift will be available in August of this year.
The video in German below shows off the Lernstift prototype.