Planner nerds of the world unite
July 22, 2017 1:09 AM   Subscribe

Planner nerds of the world, is there any way to use existing smart notebook/smart pen systems to create a paper planner that syncs with a digital one? (The existing systems seem to be designed for notetaking and sketching, but I'd like to be able to add calendar entries to Google Calendar, update an address book, keep lists, etc.) Bonus question: which of the existing smart notebooks allow you to save as vector files?
posted by Soliloquy to Technology (7 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
The only thing I've heard of similar to what you desire would be The Rocketbook.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 8:36 AM on July 22, 2017

I'm dreaming of this very thing, but I think the unfortunate truth is that it doesn't exist in a meaningful way: the Rocketbook looks great, and Moleskine recently partnered with Livescribe to create this "Smart Writing Set," which I think also has similar digital links to Evernote and Dropbox (if I remember correctly, the Livescribe pens have the benefit of recording audio while you write, which is really valuable if you're taking notes during a lecture or discussion, but not so useful otherwise). But I'm not sure how capable the pens are in terms of tagging what you write as text (rather than pen marks, chicken scratch, etc), much less as calendar entries or to-do list items.
posted by tapir-whorf at 9:32 AM on July 22, 2017

Yeah, handwriting recognition is not a thing that has commercial gotten to the point where it can do what you want, nor has any major company invested in it. I think even if that technology existed, it would be hard for the hypothetical smart pen to know what to do when you wanted to update something. Would it know you tore a page out of your notebook? Would it know what it meant when you crossed something off.

I'm wondering if you could describe a few ideal use-case scenarios (e.g. I write exactly this down, and exactly this happens) so we could at least try to recommend something close.
posted by thegears at 11:28 AM on July 22, 2017

even if that technology existed, it would be hard for the hypothetical smart pen to know what to do

There are glimpses of it, though--but they're limited. You can upload a page to Dropbox from the Rocketbook setup just by touching the Dropbox logo with your pen, for example.

I circumvent the frustration of digital and analog lives not bridging by circling back to both all the time. My messy notebook to-do lists get transcribed into Todoist (which now has Google Calendar integrations if you're a time planner, which I'm not), then re-transcribed back into my non-smart Rollbahn notebook every day, to create a paper-based dayplan that only includes the big or time-sensitive essentials, not the "don't forget this little thing" reminders. I think at this point (of technological development) you just have to be meticulous about moving back and forth between systems pretty fluidly, since most people's organizational systems exist in both worlds..
posted by tapir-whorf at 7:03 PM on July 23, 2017

thegears, in my case I manage several home health aides for my care, not all of whom are tech savvy, so my paper calendar has essentially become collaborative. (This has been sometimes hard to manage because people have written things on it without telling me, or didn't write things down that needed to be written down.) It would be ideal if I could easily import that data into an online calendar, both as confirmation of what's on there and for the sending of email reminders and the like. (I wouldn't expect such a system to be able to detect a torn-out page, or to magically update the hardcopy when I make changes online, of course. Just getting the data into a digital format while preserving the hardcopy would be a huge timesaver. It would be a calendar system that would be most useful for me, but if such a thing could work for a calendar why not an address book, etc. as well?)

I remember seeing a video a few years ago about the Livescribe pen, and it showed a user writing down an event and then confirming somehow (through an app, maybe?) that it should be sent to their calendar. The paper it was written on resembled regular ruled paper, but with microscopic(?) dots for the smart pen to orient itself. And I could be wrong, but I heard that in some cases you could print out that special dotted paper, although I'm not sure it was with the same system. That's what made me wonder if someone with more knowledge of the available systems had jerryrigged a smart paper dotted background into a calendar or planner format.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:53 AM on July 24, 2017

To my knowledge, the Livescribe system will digitally capture the handwritten text as it is written, and can replay this including audio recordings, but I do not believe that there's really any functionality to export this data in a semantically meaningful way to other systems like calendars. I stand to be proven wrong, though.
posted by thegears at 4:07 PM on July 24, 2017

Found the video: Livescribe
posted by Soliloquy at 7:30 PM on July 25, 2017

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