As a conference interpreter and university instructor, I’m always on the lookout for technological developments that can benefit the interpreting profession. This includes devices that will allow the user to transfer handwritten notes and illustrations into a digital format.
What’s the significance of such technology for me? In my professional life, I prepare assignments, teach, attend professional development events, and write articles for professional publications. Over the years I’ve amassed a considerable amount of information that is scattered in digital and analog formats. It’s quite frustrating to know that I have a useful tidbit somewhere but can’t find it. It would be much easier to find what I’m looking for if my notes were accessible in digital format. Here is some information on a few products that will help create a digitalized archive for your notes.
Rocketbook Wave Notebook
For many of us, the combination of pen and paper is still the ideal way to take notes. The Rocketbook Wave Notebook provides the freedom of a traditional pen and paper notebook while allowing the user to transfer notes into a digital format. The notebook is available in two sizes and comes with a Pilot FriXion pen. Each page in the Rocketbook features a Quick Response barcode and seven symbols that can be used to link to cloud destinations like Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, or your inbox. Here’s how it works:
- Download the Rocketbook app to your smartphone.
- Using the Pilot FriXion pen, write or draw whatever you like.
- When you’re done, open the app and point the phone at the page. It automatically takes a picture of the notes, which can then be transferred immediately as jpegs or PDFs to whichever digital destination you indicated by marking the appropriate symbol on the page.
- Once the pages you scanned have reached their destination, you’ll be able to share, print, or archive the files.
What if you run out of pages? The big advantage here is that the paper is reusable. When the Rocketbook Wave is full, simply place it in the microwave (yes, you read that right!) with a mug of water on top of it and microwave it until the logo on the cover turns white. The pages are now wiped clean and can be reused up to five times. If you have the Rocketbook Everlast, you can simply wipe the page with a moist towel and reuse it endlessly. (The folks at Rocketbook even provide instructions and a video detailing how you can erase pages safely: http://bit.ly/erasing-pages.)
Neo N2 Smartpen
While Rocketbook doesn’t go as far as allowing you to edit your notes, the Neo N2 Smartpen does. It’s a combination of a smartpen, special notebook, and an app (Neo Notes) that runs on both iOS and Android. When the pen and app are paired, everything you jot down in the notebook is transferred live to the app. The transcription function allows you to turn your notes into editable text. You may be disappointed with this function if your handwriting is messy. But if it’s legible, you can proceed to edit your notes. You can control the ink color and thickness (only on screen, as the pen will always write in the same ink color on paper) and highlight important text. You can share your notes in different formats through a variety of apps. The pen allows you up to 14 hours of writing time on one charge. It’s energy efficient because it turns itself on when you start writing and switches off when you stop. If your phone or tablet run out of battery power, the N2 Smartpen can store your notes until you can reconnect to the app. If you have a laser printer, you can print the special paper for free at www.neosmartpen.com/en/ncode-pdf.
Livescribe 3 Smartpen
The Livescribe 3 Smartpen has a transcription feature that was unavailable in older versions. This pen is also paired with an app, the Livescribe+, which transfers notes into a digital format instantly. This is an improvement from older versions of Livescribe, where you had to connect the pen to your computer to transfer notes. The pages in the Livescribe notebooks feature an innovative dot pattern that tells the smartpen precisely what you’ve written or drawn. Livescribe paper is available at competitive prices in a variety of sizes and styles, and can even be printed for free from the developer’s website with a laser printer.
If you still prefer regular paper and your ink tips of choice, you could try the Equil Smartpen. It works on any paper using your preferred ink tip. This is because the pen comes with a Bluetooth sensor that you can attach to any notebook. This connects the pen to the app: the Equil Note. Again, this pen can be used without a smartphone or tablet because its sensor is capable of storing up to 10,000 pages that can be transferred to a digital format when you connect to the app.
In the field of technology, there is always something new to explore. Granted, what works for someone may not work for someone else, but it’s always exciting to explore new gadgets.
Maha El-Metwally is a conference interpreter for Arabic, Dutch, English, and French. She works for a wide range of international organizations, including the European institutions and the United Nations. She also teaches conference interpreting at the University of Surrey. In addition to ATA, she is a member of the International Association of Conference Interpreters and the Chartered Institute of Linguists. She also serves on the board of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. She has an MA in interpreter training from the University of Geneva. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.