Saturday 17 February 2018

Digital pen spell checks handwritten notes as you write

The Lernstift digital spellcheck pen
The Lernstift digital spellcheck pen

Rhiannon Williams

A digital pen can detect mistakes in handwritten text, its inventors have claimed.

The Lernstift pen could make simple spelling and grammatical errors a thing of the past by gently vibrating when the writer spells a word incorrectly or writes illegibly.

The device uses fully built-in handwriting recognition technology and software, and can process written text and detect errors in English and German as a user writes. Whereas other current pens rely on optical sensors to detect the writing movements of the user and digitise the words or sketches for uploading to a computer, or specialist paper or external devices, the Lernstift requires no additional connection to function.

Two German fathers, Falk Wolsky and Daniel Kaesmacher, are appealing for more financial backers in their project via digital crowdfunding company Kickstarter, and are aiming to raise £120,000 (€139,000) by next month so that the pen can be produced by the end of the year.

The idea for Lernstift was born when Falk's wife realised her son had been making numerous mistakes while writing without realising it, and mentioned the benefits of a pen that alerted him to his mistakes. Her developer husband founded the company, assembled a team and gathered a number of investors before launching the project on Kickstarter.

Lernstift will have two primary functions; orthography mode to recognise spelling errors, and calligraphy mode, pointing out flaws of form and legibility. Users can also choose between a pencil, fountain pen and ballpoint pen.

The computer inside the pen is an embedded Linux system and the circuit board contains motion sensor, processor, memory, Wi-Fi and vibration modules, oval-shaped to fit inside the curved body of the pen.

The pen computer's motion sensor combines a gyroscope with an accelerometer, and deploys three different methods to process the data from the handwriting.

It will also be possible to learn the characteristics of the user's handwriting through a learning mode; involving the user writing a few words in block letters followed by the same words in cursive text. The pen can then 'learn' to pick up of variations in the user's writing methods.

It is hoped the first 20 to 100 units will begin production by August - September, and to start serial production by the end of the year.

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