Pen-Based Computing Loses The Tablet

LeapFrog FLY.

Via Engadget I found mention of the LeapFrog FLY, a pen with embedded computer that reads your handwriting. Need a calculator? Just write out “2 + 2 = ” and hear a response from the pen computer’s synthesized voice. Need to schedule something? Write out the date.

It’s targeted at kids, and the company has released it with a variety of tutoring applications and games (you guessed it: FLYware) appropriate for kids in 3rd to 8th grade. Gizmag has details.

It turns out that it requires special paper (FLY paper, of course), but it’s an interesting concept. I wonder how much more it would have cost to use accelerometers (eliminating the need for that special paper) instead of an optical sensor?

Big picture moment: The computing world of today is built around computers with keyboards and big screens, but what might it look like if this pen-computer takes off? What applications might we build for a networked FLY? The world is in search of a $100 laptop, but this pen is available now for that price.