I have been testing the Pulse Smartpen by Livescribe for several weeks now. This amazing device is a computer in a pen that also records audio while you take notes on special "dot paper". What a great way to document notes in a meeting (don't forget to ask permission to record audio) or take notes during a lecture. You can immediately play back the audio by tapping on your hand written notes -- listen using the built-in pen speaker or included ear buds. These special ear buds also have built-in binaural microphones so you can record stereo while you appear to just be listening to music! The pen even has an OLED display that can be used to display the results of calculations you tap out on a printed dot-paper calculator.
Impressive, but there is more. Back at your desk, you dock the pen to recharge and simultaneously sync your hand scribbles and audio to the Livescribe Desktop application on your PC or Mac. The desktop application organizes all your notes and even allows you to search your hand writing to locate a particular passage. Of course, you can play back your audio recordings by clicking your mouse anywhere on the images of your hand written notes.
As an extra bonus, you can share notes and audio with specific individuals or the public by uploading your recording sessions to the Livescribe Online Community site. Students can now take notes during class while recording the audio and share the "pencast" with their classmates -- a student note-taking service for the 21st Century!
To illustrate how this all works, I scribbled a concept map on how podcasting works. Of course it also illustrates a new way to teach and learn. The Pulse Smartpen is a great way for faculty to illustrate and animate concepts they used to draw on a blackboard and make it available to students with audio narration. See for yourself...