Everybody uses a pen. We carry them in our pockets and briefcases. Their beauty lies in the simplicity and immediacy with which they let us record a thought or phone number on a napkin or even the back of a hand.

Part design, part critique, Digital Ink is the re-assemblage of current and future technologies into a portable and socially familiar object. It's a sophisticated pen that allows people to take notes, sketch, and digitally save their physical data as they write. It strives to turn mobile computing on it's head by turning the computer display into a piece of paper and the keyboard and input device into the pen itself. It's designed so people can do things they normally do with any pen, but also store, fax, plan and correspond with others.

Digital Ink has cellular components that allow any stored information to be sent to computers, printers and fax machines by simply pressing the pen's mode button and writing words like "send to" followed by an email address, or "fax to" followed by a phone number. The interaction language of the pen might look somthing like this: Send to: mfanzo@berlin.de -->

Writing "Send to" invokes the command. The "->" ends the command and sends the message. The transmission's status is displayed on the pen's elliptical LCD. Another feature of Digital Ink is it's ability to understand the meaning of the basic shapes and symbols that it draws, as well as their relative positions. For example, the pen can understand a drawing of a calculator as a calculator. This capability allows a person to create hand-drawn tools and interfaces when they need them.

A small digital "inkwell" connects to any computer and serves as home to Digital Ink. It also serves as the pen's recharging station and downloading port. The first working prototype is currently under construction, but we still have many challenges ahead. For example, today, a production version would be fairly power intensive, and there are still several interaction and technology issues to be addressed. We are collaborating with other organizations to address these issues.