LiveScribe's Pulse Smartpen. What is a Smartpen?

High tech pens have been, by definition, a niche. Those that have wanted to convert their handwriting to editable digital text have been able to do so for a long time. But today LiveScribe is putting the pulse back into digital writing with what they are calling the world's first smartpen. Our first question: "is it a smart phone in a pen?" Not quite.

The smartpen is a "computer within a pen" that can capture handwriting and simultaneously record audio and synchronize it to the writing. Different than any digital pen, the Pulse lets users tap on their notes to replay what was recorded from the exact moment they were writing. Two versions of the pen will be available. The 1GB version ($149) will have storage for 100 hours of audio and 16,000 pages of digital notes. The 2GB model will double this storage capacity.

So what makes the pen smarter than others? We are thinking that it's the ability to create applications for it. Livescribe announced a Developer Program, inviting programmers to build paper-based computing applications to enhance and broaden the functionality of the Pulse smartpen. So far developers have created applications that will translate text and also create calendars.