Creatives love sketching on paper, but ideas sketched on paper are stuck on paper. That is why Moleskine has spent the past few years attempting to build digital backups into its iconic paper notebooks. With the new Smart Writing Set ($199), the company has finally created a seamless paper-to-digital user experience.
The set consists of a special Moleskine notebook, an iPad app, and a Bluetooth pen. With it, anything you write in the Moleskine will be copied instantly to your iPad (where it can be shared via email, if you'd like). And more amazing still? You can hop from page 2 to page 30 to page 78, and the pen and app will follow you along the way. Or you can write without your iPad connected, and the information will download when you're back at your tablet.
The magic works like this: Moleskine has tiny positional markers printed on the paper, which are read by a built-in camera inside the pen. So without hitting any buttons, it just knows what you’re drawing, on what page, at all times. Other pens on the market promise similar auto-digitization functions—and in fact, Moleskine has partnered with them in the past—but this is the smoothest implementation of paper connecting to pen connecting to app we've seen yet. And not a bad way for Moleskine to defend their $100 million-plus business based on selling notebooks.
We shot a video with some of our coworkers trying it out. The results speak for themselves. What’s missing on the cutting room floor, however, was that the app crashed a lot toward the end of our testing. So there are definitely some stability issues to work out. That said, the rest of the experience? Wonderful writing witchcraft.