Phree easily surpassed its initial Kickstarter goal of raising $100,000. Phree easily surpassed its initial Kickstarter goal of raising $100,000. Phree easily surpassed its initial Kickstarter goal of raising $100,000. (Photo: OTM Technologies)

The world’s smartest pen writes on anything

The Phree even takes calls and texts.

The digital input device went out of fashion around the time Steve Jobs declared the stylus dead, at the 2007 launch of the iPhone.

“Who wants a stylus?” Jobs said at the time. “Nobody wants a stylus.” It was considered clunky, inconvenient and, in a tech world smitten with the next new thing, outdated. Digital pens, while remaining in use, would fare little better in the interim. Touchscreens, as Jobs foresaw, became king.

But then Steve Jobs never got the chance to see Phree. If he had, he would have been more upbeat.

This "mobile input device" marries the functionality of a stylus with the performance of a digital pen and the convenience of a touchscreen.

Unfettered by its attachment to a single device, Phree essentially "frees" the user from having to write on a screen like the stylus pens of old. Instead you can use it on virtually any surface as long as the tip is within an inch of it and within about 30 feet of the target device. Draw or write anywhere – a table top, dashboard, even your hand – and your work will show up instantly on your screen.

The tool is such a hit that a Kickstarter campaign, which ended today, raised more than $1 million, well above the initial goal of $100,000.

Phree allows you to write on almost any surface. Phree allows you to write on almost any surface. (Photo: OTM Technologies)

The brains behind Phree are four Israelis who own and operate OTM Technologies. Having spent 10 years perfecting the technology behind the tool, they're confident they've created a can't-miss product.

Gilad Lederer, a co-founder of OTM Technologies, explained to Reuters that the smartly designed pen works through the use of a patented sensor that shoots a laser beam from its tip. The handwriting is then digitalized through complex algorithms that convert it into a motion signal.

"You write anywhere you want on any surface, but you create directly digital ink on the target device," Lederer said.

Phree connects to most devices with a Bluetooth connection: phone, tablet, laptop, TV. And Phree is compatible with software and apps like Office, OneNote, EverNote, Acrobat, Google Handwriting Keyboard, Viber and more. Additionally, the pen can be used as a headset and has an integrated screen for brief texts.

Phree also functions as a headset and has an integrated screen for brief texts. Phree also functions as a headset and has an integrated screen for brief texts. (Photo: OTM Technologies)

John DeMicco, an audio engineer living in Atlanta, is a former owner of several generations of Palms, a now-defunct line of smartphones and PDAs that incorporated a stylus pen into their design. DeMicco is also a graduate student at Georgia State University and has maintained his love for the instrument, regularly using it for note taking. He was intrigued by Phree and its possibilities.

"It's a creative concept making the stylus the real tool instead of a tablet or pad," he told From The Grapevine. "The convenience factor is obvious. What people wind up doing with it will really dictate its value as another digital tool."

According to Lederer, that shouldn't be a problem. Phree has a use for almost everyone. "Professionals want to work and annotate documents and red line documents on the go. Kids want to play like draw something and send their drawings or sketches in snap shot of photos. Construction workers can work in a construction site and annotate a building plan straight into the cloud, and gamers can finally have a tool to use in the virtual reality world to interact even when they are totally immersed in the virtual reality," he said.

And with a retail price expected to be around $200, it'll be affordable.

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