Digital pens are quickly changing the face of business today. Hand-written information collected in the field can be converted instantly to electronic data, which can speed up tasks and cut expenses. In addition, many of these pens have Bluetooth technology, whereby data can be transmitted from pen to office through a cell phone.

Despite the recent movement to go paperless, 86 percent of businesses are still using paper-based forms, according to a survey taken in 2010. In the same survey, 40 percent said they are looking for ways to replace paper with the iPad, and 75 percent are interested in what digital pens have to offer.

Anoto provides a unique technology that computerized pen companies can use to enhance their products. Developed by Swedish inventor Christer F hr us in 1996, Anoto is a type of computer code on paper in the form of tiny dots. It is viewed by a camera inside the pen located behind the ballpoint. This code tells the pen where it is located on a page at any given time. The camera also keeps track of penstrokes, and as a result, it is able to keep track of what is being written.

Several businesses have partnered with Anoto, including Livescribe's Echo Smartpen and Pulse Smartpen, as well as Adapx's Capturx for OneNote, all products that we reviewed on this site.

Although Adapx offers Capturx for OneNote to consumers, its main business model is geared toward designing custom digital pens that meet the specific needs of their client businesses. For example, by enabling the pens with GPS technology, a city or county government could use them to help survey or map a city. A surveyor could go through town in "fire hydrant" mode and place an "X" on a printed map whenever he comes across the industrial-sized water spigots. Through his cell phone, he simply uploads the data to a centralized server back at his office where the master map is housed. Then, without any other work, a small icon representing a fire hydrant would appear on the master map.

In creating forms, the Anoto technology is coded to be unique for each sheet of paper so that when an individual is filling out a printed form with a computerized pen, the information collected can be matched with its electronic counterpart on a computer just by syncing the pen with the computer. In addition, many of the pens also have optical character recognition abilities, which convert hand-written words to text with about 90% accuracy.

Adapx has a number of clients in the United States and throughout the world, such as Microsoft, Quicken Loans, General Mills and Sony. They also have a number of contracts with the U.S. government, including with the Department of Defense.

In Australia, Destiny io2 pens offer a similar technology to Adapx. They service medical facilities and other businesses in their native land. Destiny bought out Logitech's io2 in 2007 and presently does not have a marketing campaign in the United States.

Velosum, a technology business in Sandy, Utah, is another company that uses the Anoto technology. They created a way for public-sector agencies to collect revenue during the recession. With their Bluetooth-enabled pen and cell phone, police officers are able to improve efficiencies on issuing and collecting fees for parking tickets. With accompanying digital photos to prove that someone parked in a red zone or double parked, individuals rarely contest the fee, and because of the quick turnaround with the technology, individuals can pay their fees more quickly.

The city of Provo, Utah, for example, used the Velosum technology to improve their rate of return on parking tickets from 67 to 88 percent within just a few months. Seventeen businesses in the United States use Velosum's technology for managing parking and speeding tickets as well as for such tasks as managing weed abatement violations and graffiti.

It is just a matter of time before digital pens become mainstream among consumers. Whether it is writing down a recipe or a phone number, soon computerized pens will become part of our everyday lives.

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