Jul 8, 2015
We recently had an opportunity to check out the Neo N2 smartpen. Simply put, we loved it; the device brings to bare all the things we love about mobile technology: Kickstarted roots, cross-platform functionality and portability.
We also had a chance to chat with Dr Eddie Lee, NeoLAB Convergence’s co-founder and CTO; we asked about smartpens in general, design cues and transcription technology. Below is our interview… in black and white.
In a tech-crazed world, why did NeoLAB go for the smartpen?
NeoLAB Convergence is passionate about bringing information technology and communications products to different industries. When our CEO and I started the company, we were still exploring which type of device we wanted to create. We knew that we could make something with an intuitive interface, but that was about all we had fleshed out. During the brainstorming process we were doing a lot of sketches on paper and having to scan them so that they wouldnâ€™t get lost; we quickly discovered this part of the process was extremely annoying, and we wanted to eliminate that step. So we decided to create a pen that could capture our ideas or sketches on the fly.
With the Neo smartpen N2, our goals were simple – make it easy for userâ€™s to capture their ideas and inspirationsin a way that simulated an experience they were used to. Pen and paper have been behind most human creations, and we still believe in the wonders that they can do. But we also admire the benefits of the digital era â€“ the ability to share, reproduce and save. By converging both digital and analog we hope to create a synergy that will further enhance future creations.
How was the Kickstarter experience?
Our Kickstarter experience was extremely successful! We ended up raising 20 times our initial funding goal in just 21 days. This supportfueled our desire to get each of our backers their pens quickly, and was part of the reason we were able to get them their pens within six months of the Kickstarter campaign end date! Since then, we have also made our pens available for purchase on our website and Amazon for U.S. customers. We are also planning on celebrating our Kickstarter campaignby hosting an openspecial appreciation event for our Kickstarter supporters to kick off our activities at this yearâ€™s CE Week NY. We will have free food from the Kimchi Taco Truck at Kickstarterâ€™s Brooklyn office, 58 Kent St, Brooklyn, NY 11222, on Tuesday, June 23rdstarting at 12:00pm ET.
What type of design decisions go into creating a smartpen?
One of the biggest design decisions we had to makewas to recreate a pen, not a digital product. We wanted to maintain the essentials of a pen and its beauty. For that to happen, the pen had to feel like a pen, not to mention look like a pen. It had to open and close like a pen and write like a pen. You donâ€™t think â€œIâ€™m going to turn on this pen and sync it to my phone,â€ when you use a pen. You just start writing, hence the automatic on/off function and the unpaired mode. We even designed the N2 to use standard ink refills, just like any other pen you use.
For the shape and feel of the Neo smartpen N2,we made the thickness of the N2 a mere 11.8mm, with the slim full aluminum body and triangular shape allows the pen to delicately and comfortably fit in a userâ€™s hand.
We also had to develop the user interface for the app. We wanted to create an intuitive platform for users to easily find their designs, plus categorize and find them later. Several application features differentiate the N2, such as the ability to select different colors for your text in the application, retrieving your notes via a calendar view, and being easily able to switch between new and old notebooks (called the NoteBox feature).
What is the one concept that NeoLAB adheres/adhered to when creating a smart device?
We wanted to create a smart device converge digital and analog in a way that will help people truly express themselves in todayâ€™s digital world, including students, interior designers, teachers, sketch artists, and journalists. For the Neo smartpen N2, we did so by adhering to the design and functions of a real pen, so that the transition would be easy for all users.
With regards to mobile connectivity, what do you see in the near future for smartpens?
We believe smart pens will and need to become more like conventional pens. The future will bring smart pens that you can use on any type of paper, at a more affordable price. At the same time, its use will become more hybrid, such as working as a stylus as well.
Transcription: how will you look to continually improve?
NeoNote’s transcribe function is powered by Myscript. We plan to continue a steady partnership with them and discuss ways the handwriting recognition technology can be improved. We envision not only more languages, but also going across the boundary of letters to the area of mathematical equations and music scores.
What can we look forward to seeing from NeoLAB down the line?
Weâ€™re looking forward to attracting many more consumers and continuing the worldwide expansion of the N2. We are also working to provide different versions of our pen and app that are specialized for specific industries or user categories. For example, we are working with our partner XMS Penvision to develop business form solutions. We are also developing an app customized for cartoonists. And we have partners in Japan and Korea we are collaborating with to develop education platforms that use smart pens. We welcome potential business partners and look forward to expanding our work into many other industries and countries.For updates on the pen and tips for cool things you can do with it, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
For our review of the N2 Smartpen, ckick here: