The IrisNotes 2 Executive takes home my personal favorite gadget award of 2012. I need to come up with a better name for that award, but it wins it nevertheless.
Admittedly, I’m biased on this one because of my profession. As a reporter, I have to take a pile of notes regularly. On occasions when I’m in the field and can’t take my laptop or tablet with me, it’s back to ink and paper. I have a stack of used Moleskin notebooks piling up on my bookshelf all the time.
In the past, I’d have to transcribe those notes into text on my computer – essentially doubling the time necessary to put out an article. I assume the same can be said of a student taking notes for a college essay, or a professional seminar attendee scribbling away for a white paper.
The IrisNote pen and receiver essentially eliminates that extra step by translating the handwriting on the note page first into scanned graphics – and then into typed text.
The device comes in two USB-rechargeable pieces. First, the actual pen is a heavy black unit equipped with a sensor that registers with the gadgets other half. A recorder about the size of a thumb drive clips on the top of the notebook page. As the user writes, the IrisNotes set records those gestures page by page.
After every page, the user resets the recorder. The previous page is saved as the new page begins recording pen strokes.
After use on paper, the user plugs the IrisNotes into any PC. Bundled software downloads the saved pages into individual documents. The user can choose to simply use those scanned documents as they are. For example, sketches, diagrams or flowcharts scanned into the IrisNotes will be initially reproduced as exactly what the user drew.
However, in my case, I wanted my handwriting to become text documents I could edit into an article. So, once my pages were downloaded, I ran them through the IrisNotes Executive software. Executive translates the handwritten graphic lettering into computer text – eliminating the need to transcribe anything by hand.
I can report that I’ve been asked about IrisNotes on just about every event I’ve covered in recent weeks. When I explain the purpose and function of the device, people from all walks of life are amazed and intrigued. It’s very much a “It’s a wonder what we can these days…” moment.
The handwriting to typed text conversion seems about 80% accurate, so some amount of proofreading is necessary to make sure your resulting text document is correct. Your accuracy may vary, and may easily be superior to mine. My handwriting was never great to begin with, and years of shorthand only served to make it less legible.
Results do improve with time as the user learns to modify or restructure their printed handwriting to make it more legible by the IrisNotes sensors.
The gadget has become indispensable in my work, and I’m slowly learning the best ways to modify my handwriting so it’s more identifiable to the IrisNotes’ computer eyes. Toward that end, IrisNotes includes a tutorial program to refine your technique.