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RealTime IT News

Microsoft OneNote Users Get Handwriting Capture

A small Seattle firm has come out with a unique tool to record and transfer handwritten notes taken in the field into Microsoft's OneNote annotation software for Office: pen and paper.

Handwriting-to-PC solutions aren't especially uncommon. What's unusual about Adapx's solution -- called Capturx for Microsoft Office OneNote -- is that its ink pen contains a tiny camera that captures movements and stores them digitally for integration into Microsoft's OneNote.

As with similar solutions, the idea is to avoid having to re-enter handwritten notes and drawings.

After taking notes and returning to the office, the data stored in the Capturx pen can be transferred into Microsoft's Office OneNote annotation software via a USB connection, said Adapx CEO Ken Schneider, a former Microsoft executive.

What's more, Adapx officials said the company's software ensures that the data will be correctly loaded into the appropriate form or other document.

For instance, a user in the field might make notes on a map, and those notes would then be transferred onto a digital version of the map back at the office.

Additionally, the software enables the user to save the information either as digital "ink" or have the software perform character recognition, translating handwriting into digital text.

The solution is designed for out-of-office note-taking situations in a wide range of industrial applications such as construction, military, government and utilities, Schneider told InternetNews.com.

The Capturx system comes as a kit that provides a digitizing pen replete with ink cartridges. It also comes with an "all-weather" notebook for taking notes on paper, and a USB dock for data transfer.

The system relies on tiny dots, printed on the notepaper, to enable the pen to track where pen strokes are entered, recording precisely where annotations are being made on the page. The package includes special software that lets any PostScript-enabled printer produce additional pages suitable for note-taking.

Besides OneNote, Schneider said Adapx is working to extend support to other applications in the Microsoft Office suite, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Visio. In addition, the company is readying a version of the package for use with ERSI's ArcGIS geographical information system, which is set to ship in early January, he added.

Adapx has several more products in the pipeline as well, including versions of the product for the AutoDesk family of computer-aided design (CAD) packages, as well for Adobe Lifecycle Forms and IBM Workplace e-Forms, Schneider said.

Capturx for Microsoft Office OneNote is available now, retailing for $299 until Jan. 15, 2008, and $349 thereafter.

At that price, it may be able to compete with "hardened" PC tablets in some circumstances, according to one analyst. Tablet PCs that are designed for use in hostile environments are expensive and sometimes may be overkill for the situation, potentially leaving an opening for Capturx.

"It sounds like a useful device for some applications, especially if you don't feel comfortable working with a tablet," Roger Kay, president of researcher Endpoint Technologies, told InternetNews.com.