Wacom's Bamboo Spark brings pen and paper into the digital age

By midian182
Sep 4, 2015
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  1. Good news for those of you who lament the slow disappearance of actual pen and paper writing in today’s digital society; graphics tablet company Wacom has just announced the Bamboo Spark, a ‘smart folio’ that turns handwritten notes into digital files.

    The Bamboo Spark, which Wacom showed off at this year’s IFA, uses a specialized ballpoint pen that writes in real ink. Users can scribble away on the included A5 paper, or anything else that fits in the folio, and an electro-magnetic resonance sensor in the pad records the strokes and transfers them to the pen. The pad can read through up to 50 pages or 7mm of paper, and the pen can save up to 100 pages of notes without any data connection.

    After pairing the folio with the Spark app over Bluetooth, notes are transferred to a connected iOS or Android device. From here they can be edited and exported to Evernote, Dropbox or Wacom’s own cloud service. This means users can access their notes through any device. Each note can be saved as an image file, PDF, or .WILL file. There’s also a very handy slider in the Spark’s software that lets you play back through each stage of your written notes.

    The Spark folio is charged via a USB connection and offers about 8 hours of use when topped up. The special ink that the pen uses lasts about 3 months’ worth of writing. A pack of three cartridges can be ordered from Wacom’s shop for $10.

    The Bamboo Spark will be available in October for $159.95. There will be three options available for purchasers: one with a gadget pocket, allowing users to carry their smartphone or extra paper; another with a tablet sleeve, which can hold a tablet up to 9.7 inches in size; and third version which is specifically designed to hold an iPad Air 2.

    Check out the video below to see the Bamboo Spark in action.

    Permalink to story.

  2. insect

    insect TS Evangelist Posts: 315   +114

    Neat - but a product I think aimed at older generations. If I have my tablet with me - I'll just write on that.
  3. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,144   +488

    This is nothing new. Livescribe did it first.
  4. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,467   +1,760

    Actually, it was most likely the USPS. They bought giant, "multi line optical character readers", to automate their large "general mail facilities". This was more than 30 years ago The reader could take written text, interpret it, then spray a bar code on the piece, down to the single address level. (Zip + 4 coding) Zip+ 4 takes to it a maximum block of (I think) four delivery addresses. Written in this format, "23456-1234".

    For those with really incoherent handwriting, letters the machine couldn't decipher, were televised to a remote location, where a human being tried to sort the mess out.
  5. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,689   +395

    This is off topic but seems a good enough time to ask. Why do we have to write city and state on addresses when the zip code covers that?
  6. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,430   +2,822

    My guess would be redundancy for accuracy. If either one was hard to read, redundancy would clear up the confusion. Error check so to speak. After all why did we ever start using ZIP codes to begin with?
  7. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 11,467   +1,760

    In part IIRC, it's to avoid redundancy. The zip code is a geographic block of physical location, which avoids geopolitical distinctions. (cities, towns, boroughs, or what have you). That's at least with respect to the first 3 (leading) digits. You could have a "Main Street" in "Smithville California" as well as the same address in the State of Maine.. The next two digits narrow the scope, hopefully to avoid redundant addresses in adjacent communities. (But keep in mind, Fire Departments often have the final say in assigning addresses, for obvious reasons). Postal carriers used to sort ALL the mail for their given route.. When they would see "123 Main Street", that's where the letter would go. During the final sort, you were reading the address from the top down, not from the bottom up. Given the quantity of mail the average worker had to sort, an error here and there was bound to happen.
    You're probably not old enough to remember, but basically, because the little cartoon man, "Zippy", nagged us to death, (from our crappy black & White TVs), until we did.

    So, the zip code does provide redundancy, but also intends to minimize it if possible as well.

    Here's the blurb on Zip Code from the Smithsonian's Postal Museum: (OK, so his given nane was, "Mr. Zip").

    Afterthought: Occasionally the zip code does coincide with a geopolitical boundary. For example, the entire 191-xx zip, is the City of Philadelphia. Surrounding counties/ areas are 190, 193, Etc.

    I forgot the last part of the system, my bad. The two trailing digits xxx-XX attach to a specific local post office. One post office building, one specific zip code. But here again, that may not include a single town. Many small towns are serviced by an office in a physically adjacent town.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2015

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