Wacom Bamboo Spark creates digital copies of written notes – no special paper required
If you want a smartpen – which digitizes your handwriting and transmits it to a computer or mobile device – you currently have your choice of models including the Neo Smartpen N2, the LiveScribe Sky or the Orée Stylograph. All of those pens, however, require you to use special paper that's unique to that particular product. By contrast, Wacom's just-announced Bamboo Spark system works with a non-electronic pen and whatever A5-sized paper you've got on hand.
The three earlier-mentioned smartpens all have tiny cameras located by the nib, that are able to gauge the pen's position on the page by imaging patterns printed on the paper.
Bamboo Spark instead utilizes a smart folio, which the paper is laid upon. That folio contains an electro-magnetic resonance board, which is able to sense the location of the tip of the included Bamboo Spark ballpoint pen. This allows it to record pen strokes (it doesn't matter if it's text or drawings), and their position relative to one another on the page.
Up to 100 pages of that data can be stored on the folio's onboard memory, then synced to an app on a paired iOS or Android mobile device when convenient. That app also lets users perform basic editing of their notes, although more options are available if the data is uploaded from the mobile device to a free Wacom Cloud account.
The folio is charged via USB, and is good for eight hours of use per charge.
Bamboo Spark is available in three models, all priced at US$159.95, €159.90 or £119.99. A pack of three ink refills for the pen costs $9.99.