Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Livescribe's Smartpen

I had the opportunity last week to have a live demo of Livescribe's Pulse SmartPen from Peter Hewitt, who is an advisor to Livescribe. What a great technology! The Pulse has a form factor of a large fountain pen, yet it contains a camera, a microphone, memory, and a USB interface. Think of it as a pen that can also record a conversation, seminar, or lecture. It syncs your notes with the audio, so once you're finished taking notes, you can point to a line in your notes, and it will play back the audio from that

Peter and I recorded an interview, where we talk about Macadamian's business model and the kind of work we do. He uploaded the notes to Livescribe's web app, where you can listen to the whole interview and see Peter's notes. You can even search on the text. Remarkable!

I ordered a Pulse immediately after our meeting. I could see it being incredibly useful in transferring knowledge throughout a project. How many times have you passed on your notes from a meeting to a colleague, only to realize you have no idea what one particular point meant, even though you're the one that wrote it? With Livescribe you can go back and listen to the audio at the exact moment you wrote the note. I'm starting to sound like an infomercial for the Pulse, so I'll leave it at that. Go check one out!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

HTC Bets On Design

Interesting piece of news this week - HTC bought One and Co, a San Francisco-based design company. The iPhone has changed the game, and the cell phone has evolved to where features no longer differentiate. HTC, traditionally a very engineering-driven company. In fact, they have traditonally been a white-label design and manufacturing company for the OEMs - you wouldn't even see their logo on the phone. They sensed that they had a weakness, and didn't have the design culture to compete against Apple, so they bought a consumer-design company. This is one more datapoint showing that the technology industry is getting serious about design as a differentiator. I think it will help HTC leapfrog from supplier to a leading contender in the next couple of years.

One other tidbit in the article I found personally interesting - HTC is hoping that insights and ideas from other non-competing One and Co projects will make their way into HTC designs. For instance, One and Co's work with K2 may lead to new materials for HTC phones. I'm glad that they think that way, and I hope that thinking becomes pervasive in software. I always thought that this was a core strength of Macadamian - the lessons, insights, and ideas we gain in one vertical are applied to another, creating new opportunities, or simply better ways of doing things.