I recently purchased a Livescribe smartpen. (That’s a referral link; if you buy from it I get a small commission.) I bought the pen in anticipation of attending the national conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers, which I attended earlier this month in New Orleans. I’ve also used it in client appointments. Now that I have had it for a couple of weeks, I realize it could potentially be very helpful with my family history research.
What’s a smartpen? (Surely that’s a term coined by Livescribe.) As you take notes on its special paper, it records the audio of what you’re listening to and links it with your notes. So, in replay mode, when you touch the paper with the pen, you hear what was being said when you made that note. You can also upload the recording and images of your notes to your computer (or the cloud, depending on which version of the pen you buy). When you click on your handwriting in the uploaded images, you hear what was being said as you were writing.
Think about that. It’s an audio recorder that’s linked to your written notes. So when you interview a family member, you can find what you want in the recording, based on your notes, instantly. If you attend a genealogy lecture (or conference), you don’t have to rely on your memory to understand your notes.
I feel like I have seen the future and it is the Livescribe smartpen.
There are a few versions of this pen. I bought the Livescribe Echo, which is the penultimate version. (The Pulse, which is no longer for sale, was the first and the Sky is the latest.) The Echo requires plugging in a cable to get the data off the pen and onto the computer. The newer version, the Sky, has wifi and uploads directly to Evernote. I chose the Echo because I wanted to make a smaller investment and don’t mind plugging in the cable.
On the advice of a Livescribe-loving friend, I also purchased the 3D recording headset, which produced really clear recordings, even in a noisy conference setting.
Here’s a video about how the Echo (the version I bought) works. My investment was only $100, including the headphones, thanks to a referral discount and special going on earlier this month. To me, it was well worth the investment!