Using its noise-canceling microphones and ink recognition system, the Pulse can be used to either take written notes that are uploaded to the PC, or record audio. But its greatest advance for note-taking over previous smartpen systems such as the io2 is the ability to synchronize written notes with audio. Simply put the pen into "Paper Replay" mode and tap on some text to hear what was being said as you scribbled. The result is the next best thing to real-time transcription. It can be used to check what may be an unclear or hastily scribbled note, focus on commentary while the pen captures the content, or create or copy a diagram while it is explained via audio.
But first, whatever is being written will have to be done so on paper designed explicitly for the pen. Like previous products that use Anoto technology, the Pulse needs smart "dot paper" to make transcription work. Without a doubt, this requirement will be a deal-killer for many, and limit the Pulse's everyday utility for some time to come. In contrast, simpler products such as the IOGear Mobile Digital Scribe uses ultrasound to track a pen's position and can be used on any paper (and the pens in such systems are smaller as well). To make dot paper more readily accessible, though, Livescribe will offer a template that should allow many customers to print their own dot paper at home. And dot paper enables the Pulse to pull off some pretty slick feats. Read on.