A new type of pen monitors your spelling as you write, vibrating when you make a mistake.
Spellcheck can be pretty frustrating, but it's become an invaluable feature in word-processing programs. For jotting down notes with a pen, though, people just have to take their lumps. Or, rather, they did; a new project on Kickstarter, created by two German dads, hopes to improve spelling around the world by alerting scribes whenever they make an error.
Using a motion sensor that combines a gyroscope with an accelerometer (unlike the camera technology used in Livescribe pens), the Lernstift smart pen will be able to capture and monitor the user's handwriting, vibrating whenever a word is spelled incorrectly. The pen was conceived by co-creator Falk Wolsky's wife, who hit upon the idea after helping her son with his homework.
Also packed inside the pen's barrel is a processor, memory chip, vibration module and Wi-Fi antenna.
The pen has two modes: the first is checking spelling; the second is monitoring penmanship, with an aim to improve legibility.
Of course, everyone writes differently, and in order to deliver an accurate experience, the pen uses a handwriting recognition engine that has been tested on millions of smartphones and tablets around the world, according to the Kickstarter campaign. Using the on-board processor and memory chip, Lernstift will learn the user's style — first with a set-up calibration, and then improving over time.
Three interchangeable nibs will be available: fountain pen, ballpoint pen and pencil; and, at launch, two languages, English and German, with more to be added later.
On top of that, a community framework will be set up so that users can add their own words to the pen's catalogue, as well as an app to create punctuation and spelling rules. A statistics app will enable parents to check on their kids' progress, learning games can help practice spelling and everything will be shareable via social media. And for developers, the API will be freely available, so anyone can create their own Lernstift apps.
A minimum Kickstarter pledge of £99 (AU$165) will get one Lernstift, while a classroom package including 10 pens, a Wi-Fi router and a tablet is available for £1499 (AU$2499). You can grab them on the Lernstift Kickstarter page here.