A quick look at the Fly Fusion Pen Computer and it appears to be a chunky input device for kids. And it is. It just also happens to be so much more.
The Fly Pen Computer is based, in part, on the same technology behind the Nokia Digital Pen. It makes use of special paper and a tiny built in camera, to allow it to record and process all the strokes a person makes. Unlike the Nokia Pen, it has more to offer than simply recording pen strokes. It's actually a real honest to goodness computer, packed into pen form.
And what makes it a computer? It has input capabilities, via the pen, output capabilities with audio and most importantly processing capability - doing on the fly text to speech, translation to Spanish, calculations and music generation. If I thought rethinking the UI was impressive, this is rethinking the entire concept of a computer.
Perhaps one of the Fly's most impressive abilities is that users can draw out user interfaces and then interact with them:
But if you’re in the middle of working on an assignment and wanted to access one of the pen’s functions you actually don’t need to flip back to the inside cover to tap on the controls printed there. What’s really cool is that you can actually draw the FLY Compass controls that correspond to the function you want on whatever page you’re using.
Here I’ve drawn the FLY Compass menu for the MP3 player and once it’s done you can access a set of audible instructions that tell you how to draw buttons for Play, Stop, Pause, Prev and Next. Once they’re all drawn you can simply tap on them like real buttons and control the MP3 playback on the pen.
-From Andrew Liszewski in depth review
That's just too cool.
The device isn't all that expensive, at around $80 .
Naturally, I'm curious if the device could be repurposed into one that adults would find useful. What a team this would make, a LeapFrog pen and a neon green kids laptop. But the technology seems to cool not to wonder what the adult version would do.
Could you manage your calendar and todo list with it? What about some sort of paper based spreadsheet? Or how about being able to convert UML diagrams from paper right to code? At the very least it should have a Scheme or Forth intepreter built into it.
Oh, the possibilities are endless. Kids today, they certainly have the best toys.
Want more toys for geeks? Check out my thoughts on the One Laptop Per Child laptop.