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Consumer Electronics Show: Pens that read

January 7, 2011 |  1:50 pm

Neo.Lab Convergence's .code reader is not a pen in the strictest sense. But when you are marketing a product with interactive children's books at the Consumer Electronics Show, it's probably best to keep it simple.

The real tech behind this device isn't in the "pen" -- that's just a tiny infrared camera -- but in the paper. Or, rather, on the paper.

Special books or other printed matter designed to be used with the pen carry a code made up of thousands of tiny dots. This allows the pen's camera to pinpoint its location accurately enough to "read" text or images printed on the paper. Other products on the market like Livescribe's Smartpen use similar technology to replicate handwriting and display it on your computer. 

One application for the technology is early education. A child using .code reader could touch a word on the page and a computer could read the word aloud. Tap a picture and a video starts playing. The possibilities are virtually endless. And it won’t leak in your shirt pocket.

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-- Tim French

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