That pen you carry around in your pocket can be really useful, if you have a piece of paper handy or like scratching out notes on your hand. It’s about to get a whole lot more useful with the introduction of Phree, a smart mobile input pen that allows you to dial and answer calls, send text messages and doodle on any virtual surface. Engineered and designed by the Israeli team at OTM Technologies, Phree has surpassed its $100,000 Kickstarter funding goal with 39 days still to go. Currently, the smart pen has already raised a cool $295,085 from over 100,000 backers.
The Phree virtual input device allows you to write on any surface, automatically communicating the text and/or numbers into your smartphone, computer, smartwatch or television. Write on a tabletop, notepad, chair arm or the back of your hand (without feeling a tinge of guilt about ink poisoning) and watch it instantly appear on a screen connected via Bluetooth. Not only does the Phree pen allow you to write out numbers and letters, it can identify handwriting patterns, recognize emojis, notice a number of different languages and it works as a Bluetooth headset for when your hand gets tired and you’re ready to do some talking. Furthermore, Phree is compatible with all of the major productivity apps like Office, OneNote, EverNote, Acrobat, Google Handwriting Keyboard, and Viber.
The technology behind Phree is just as impressive as its abilities, and its slick design. The Israeli engineers behind OTM Technologies developed a patented tool called Optical Translation Measurement (OTM) that is able to precisely track hand movements using a 3D laser interferometer sensor that translates motion into figures relative to any physical surface. There is a delicate sensor at the tip of the pen that not only detects what you are writing no matter the surface – it is sensitive enough to determine your handwriting patterns and even has the potential to be used as a biometric identification tool!
Phree was designed by OTM’s Chief Designer Elisha Tal to be a user-friendly addition to the run of the mill stylus. The pen has a small screen that allows users to receive calls and even read texts, which they can then respond to immediately using the pen. In addition, they can select which application they want to input and even tell the time. The screen on the body of the pen is what really makes it stand out against other smart pen competitors like the Livescribe series, but it may also be the clunckiest and least attractive part of the pen.
Having already raised its $100,000 funding goal, Phree is no longer available for pre-sale and is currently sold for $189, including a case, in an Early Bird deal. The pens come in four colors: black, graphite, silver and gold, each with the same OLED touch display.
The Phree pen may indeed be a “freeing” tool for those who are just too lazy to get their phone out to answer a text, but we have to admit that seeing someone blindly write on a surface without a clue as to what they are writing seems like a recipe for an awkward encounter.