Today Wacom announced the Inkling,  a new digital/ballpoint sketch pen that captures your real world sketches digitally for easy manipulation/refinement later. Say what? It digitizes your sketches so you can skip the scanner and go straight to work. Those familiar with the Livescribe note-taking pen will be familiar with the concept already, but this time, it is backed by Wacom, a company known for their drawing tablets, and geared directly at the sketchers of the world. I wasn’t initially impressed with the idea, but after digging through their press release and watching the video, I have to admit, I’d love to mess around with one. Check out that video and the highlights from the press release/product site after the break.

The Wacom Inkling

It’s amazing how a well produced video can change me from a skeptic to a believer. That, and the mention of some slick features like:

  • works with any paper/sketchbook you want to work with
  • importing directly into vectors or JPG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG
  • 1024 layers of sensitivity
  • creating a new layer at the touch of a button during your sketching
  • more than 8 hours of drawing time
  • a $199 price tag

 

This is a new take on drawing digitally and one that I still have to think about before I jump wholly on board with, especially now that I have a stylus that I actually like for my iPad. Still, there are some things this can deliver that my iPad/ShapeDad stylus can not: higher portability and pressure sensitivity. Here are some other things to think about though, before you spend the money you’ve been saving up for a Cintiq on (a lot of) cotton candy at the county fair:

  • the pen requires ballpoint pen ink refills
  • there is no eraser
  • you must maintain a line of sight between the pen and the receiver
  • A4 paper size (8.27” x 11.69″) is the maximum work area
  • you still have to know how to draw
  • you can’t cover the tip while drawing
  • there is sketch management software that you have to deal with before you can access your drawings

 

The whole Inkling setup in its slick case.
The whole Inkling setup in its slick case.

Conclusion

Yup, none of those is a deal killer so what the final verdict will come to is simply how well it works. It seems like a great possibility for getting something useful done in a meeting, or traveling without clunkier options. There are two things that I walk away from this announcement with, though, that I think are both more important that the product itself.

First is that Wacom has finally innovated outside of their core product, the digitizer tablet. (I do not consider the Bamboo Stylus or Bamboo iPad app innovative in any way) The second—which is more of a stretch, but more important to the likes of me—is that Wacom has a wireless way to communicate pen pressure. This gives me hope that there may be a skunkworks project somewhere to bring that sort of pressure sensitivity to a (smart) stylus for capacitive screens. THAt would be a welcome innovation.

Source: Wacom
Thanks to The S for the tip.

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