This may well be the next insanely great thing: a pen that can capture what you do on paper and send digital commands to the appropriate places, by Anoto.
"Right now, we're all trying to synchronize Palms, phones, Outlook, day planners, Web sites, and thousands of floating Post-it Notes," says Jeff Anderson, VP of Franklin Covey's Eproducts and Planner division. "It's almost seamless now, but the big glaring gap is paper-back-to-digital. Anoto is the last leg to the full solution."
There are innumerable applications in which digital input could migrate happily to paper: imagine putting a check mark in the newspaper to program your VCR. Anoto pens themselves will be customized by users who check off options in manuals, the interface fine-tuned by - what else? - ticking boxes on paper. If you want to customize the color of the ink or the texture of a line in an email message, for instance, you'll choose from a list of options on a printed menu. Or you could create a virtual flip book by sketching a series of drawings and selecting a box labeled "Send as GIF animation."
Is there a weakness in this plan? On the face of it it looks invincible to me.