The Penstream digital pen and paper solution can be summarized as 5 components;
- The pen
- The paper
- Transmission of the data
- The pen server
The pen looks and feels like a large expensive ballpoint pen except that if you opened it up, inside you would find non-volatile RAM, a Bluetooth transmitter, a battery, an optical camera and of course, a ball-point pen cartridge! As you write on the digitally prepared paper, your handwriting strokes are captured and recorded in the pen. By ticking a special area on the form, the pen can transmit the stored information via Bluetooth or USB to either a mobile device or a computer for onward transmission to the pen server.
Digital paper is simply normal paper that has been printed with a near invisible dot pattern. The pattern not only allows the pen to understand where it is on the form, but also which form is being completed and in the case of multi-page forms, which page of the form is being written on. The printing of the forms can be carried out by a professional printing company to create pads, booklets etc, but it is also possible to print out forms locally on a 600dpi colour laser postscript printer. Print costs are generally no more expensive than your current forms costs.
A pen can be instructed to either send the handwritten strokes to a mobile phone via Bluetooth where it can then be forwarded via GPRS/3G utilising special software to our pen server, or it can be docked with a PC via USB and the information transmitted across the Internet. In either situation, reliable transmission and user feedback is delivered through the use of a small piece of software installed on the device called PenPusher.
The digital pen server receives information from the pen and processes it depending upon a set of business rules that is pre-agreed with each customer for example:
- A confirmation message, validation request or feedback is sent to the originator
- Handwriting interpreted and converted to text
- Checkboxes converted into true/false/value statements
- A facsimile of the form created as a PDF or any other image format
- Forms converted into Word or Excel
- Signatures biometrically verified
- All data exported as XML and emailed back to the customer
No solution would be complete if the data collected wasn’t put to some use. Integrating the information output from the digital pen server can be relatively simple if you have a modern back-office system (XML is a standard we support and most software packages can import), but can also be troublesome if you either don’t have the internal skills or are operating an older back-office system. In such instances, tools such as the Penstream Business Integrator or AppSwing can be used to effectively “push” the data in via the standard user interface. Data is typed into the application through the use of a “virtual person” and therefore enables data to be entered into any Windows accessible application.