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Technology has failed us in the ‘digitising handwritten notes department’. How many times have you stood back from a stack of sticky notes or a whiteboard full of notes and thought “wow, I pity the fool who has to digitise all of THAT!“. You’re then instantly enveloped by that sinking feeling that it’s probably going to be you. Or at the very least, you need those scrawlings that are plastered all over the wall, like, yesterday.
Chances are it’s been you before, or will be you at some point in the future. BUT — going from handwritten notes to digital is a nightmare. It’s an inefficient waste of time. Why is it so painful to get these notes into the software we love and use every day? What year is this?
Don’t get it twisted, there have been multiple gallant attempts with stacks of innovation along the way. But we’re still not there. This is the problem we’ve chosen to fix using technology and user experience slickness. If you continually find yourself in an analog-note-taking-world this might be music to your ears (eyes).
Let’s take a look at how we got to this point and pay homage to our forefathers.
My goodness, do you remember them? This is where it all started. Write stuff and scan it. Genius! But then the text is not really digitized, it’s just a scan of the thing.
Great if you only want a pic to manipulate it, but it’s no good if you want to digitize your handwritten notes. Also, have you ever tried to scan a whiteboard? Results may vary.
An absolute classic. Just take a photo of the thing. “It’s all documented” you hear people say. But no, just like scanning your notes you still need to type everything out to then do something meaningful with them.
Are you taking paper notes or digital notes? Wait, it can be both! Whether it be Wacom’s Bamboo Slate smartpad, Moleskin Pen+, the Livescribe 3 smartpen, or the Apple Pencil, it’s clear there’s a market for people who want that analog feeling but in the digital realm where they get work done.
However, you’re going to have to fork out the cash for it, you’ll be the only one in the room with it, and you’ll still need to get your notes into your platform of choice.
3M’s Post-it® App.
Automagically take photos of stickies to arrange them digitally. Now we’re getting there. The app recognises the stickies as separate entries, so you can then arrange them. But.. still.. you can’t actually do anything with the text itself. You still need to digitize the stickies if you want to do something meaningful with the text that’s been captured.
Who needs a whiteboard anyway? There’s some great tools out there, like Mural, that take the whole ‘collaborative workshop-style process’ online. This is a great path to take, if you’re not all together in a room generating stickies and scribbles.
Gosh. We’re so close with this tech. But, again, we’re still not quite there! Microsoft’s Computer Vision API is able to recognise a fairly wide range of handwriting, but it needs to be printed letters for best results. In the tests we’ve run it’s no doubt impressive kit, but still won’t quite solve the problem at hand.
Now we’re getting somewhere. Dictating your physical outputs can be a speedy way to digitise your notes. Dragon, Otter, Alexa, Siri, Google Home and a bunch of other technologies can help out — but you’ve still got to then manipulate what you’ve got to make it work for you.
So we’re very close again, but still not quite there when it comes to efficient ways of working with the software you use to get things done.
Mircosoft’s ‘Enterprise Productivity Vision’ shows a world where all inputs are digital by nature. The video depicts a world just 5-10 years from now. Admittedly, I’m an absolute sucker for these future-casting videos, and have made a few myself, however this is not a world we’ll be living in (in just 5 years time). All the tech on display here will be for a small group of privileged people who can afford it. We need something today that allows us to digitise our notes and get them into our platforms of choice.
What are you doing about it?
We’re on a mission. We’ve gathered some of the best design and tech talent in the business to create experiences that empower you to digitise your notes and get them into your tools of choice with speed. With a combination of world-class UX and leveraging technology available to millions — you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!
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