Matthew Yospin 2015-09-30 02:16:20
The Write Stuff Why I love my Livescribe 3 pen. I decided to try a smartpen earlier this year because it seemed like a potential time-saver. I’d found, in my practice, that I tended to take notes by hand during client meetings and phone calls, as that was less distracting than using a laptop or mobile device. The downside was that I would spend up to an hour every day retyping or scanning my notes into my law-practice management software. That was not efficient. Although I strive for a paperless office, paperless doesn’t necessarily mean zero-paper. I find several benefits to taking notes on paper, which include having a physical record, remembering things better (and there are studies supporting this), and convenience during client meetings, phone calls, or when the battery is running low. I am not willing to give up taking notes on paper, but I wanted a faster way to get my notes into electronic form. So I decided to try the Livescribe 3 Smartpen (from $149.95; livescribe.com). I thought that if it saved me even 10 minutes a day, it would be worth the money. I’ve found it to be more helpful than I imagined. How It Works The Livescribe works like a typical ballpoint pen; you hold it in your hand, press the tip to paper, and write. But it also has several nontraditional features, including an infrared camera to capture what you’re writing, 2GB of memory to record what you write, a small speaker, an antenna to sync with your mobile device, and a processor to tie it all together (yes, your pen will occasionally need a firmware update—the mobile app will tell you and install it). Once you’ve set up your pen with its mobile or tablet app, using it is easy—turn it on, write on special dot-pattern paper (a purchase comes with 50 sheets; more are available for download and full notebooks can be purchased online), and the pen records what you write. The pen syncs data in real time—you can watch your handwritten notes appear on your phone within a few seconds. You can also use the pen without the mobile device present. When you connect later, it will download. In my experience, the 2GB of data storage on the pen has been plenty for a full day of writing (and the pen battery lasts more than a day, too). Each page of each paired notebook is visible in the app, and the pen and app track when you wrote and when you paused and automatically divide text up into chronological sections that Livescribe calls the “feed.” Depending on how you like to use notes, you could use separate notebooks for each client or project. Using the Pen in Practice I use the pen for client meetings, phone calls, when riding a bus or train, or any time it would be obtrusive or inconvenient to have a phone or a laptop out. I also like to use it for CLEs and bar association lunches. I find it to be very portable and durable. As part of my daily routine, I review my notes in the evening, convert my writing to text, and move what I need into my practice management system. Text transcription. The text transcription happens locally on your mobile device—you don’t need to be connected to the Internet to do it—and Livescribe assures me that it doesn’t have access to my data. It supports many languages, though I’ve tried only English. I’ve found it works well, though I do have to write relatively neatly. If another person would have trouble reading your writing, so will the app. After conversion from handwriting, you can edit, attach photos or notes, add tags, share a feed section, or merge. Audio recording. The pen/app combo can record sound using the built-in microphone of your mobile device. The pen itself doesn’t have a mic, though it alerts you when the app is recording by changing the indicator light to red. You can start and control a recording from the app, or from controls printed onto the paper, but only if the app is open and the device is already paired. Security concerns. Other attorneys have asked me if I have any concerns about my smartpen’s security. I do. There are a few things to keep in mind. • Can the camera take pictures of people? The camera is focused about an inch away from the page, and to work it has to resolve the small lines of ink and dot pattern on the page, so it likely wouldn’t be able to pick up anything more than a blurry picture—it’s no Google Glass. It’s also an infrared camera, so it won’t yield a typical picture. • Can it be used to record sound? Anyone using this pen should be aware of wiretap laws in their jurisdiction, which often include any recording of sound made without express consent. Be very clear if you are recording sound via mobile device, and get permission to do so. • Is your data protected? It is convenient to have all of my notes digitally accessible. But it is also vulnerable. The data is not encrypted, and I don’t know of a way to wipe it remotely. The pen can pair with multiple devices. It requires a tap on a control with the pen, as well as actions by the app user, so I don’t see a realistic risk of someone on the other side of the room hacking into my pen. The real risk is that a lost or stolen pen still has unarchived notebook data on it, and anyone can pair it to a device and download your data. You are effectively carrying around all of the notebooks that you’ve been using. Depending on how risk-tolerant you are, you might want to make archiving part of your weekly or even daily workflow. I love using the Livescribe 3 Smartpen and I love the time it saves. The data vulnerability is a risk—but so is carrying any paper notes. I’ll keep using it. A version of this article originally appeared on Law Technology Today. Reprinted with permission. MATTHEW YOSPIN is a solo patent attorney specializing in software and mechanical devices at the Law Office of Matthew M. Yospin in Boston, Massachusetts. Follow him on Twitter (@MatthewYospin), LinkedIn, Google+, or his firm blog (yospinlaw.com/blog).
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