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Next on digital's acquisition list: paper

These days, we've got digital signatures, digital music and even digital dogs. What's left? Paper. Swedish company Anoto, a subsidiary of C-Technologies, is working to make digital paper just as common as Post-it notes. You won't find it at your local Staples just yet, but it's on the way.

The technology works through a Bluetooth wireless pen and paper that has been imprinted with minuscule location dots. The pen "reads" where it is on the paper and wirelessly transmits the data to a desktop computer, fax machine or mobile phone. The pen is somewhat larger than your average writing instrument. The paper looks and feels like regular paper but has a slight off-white hue. A magnifying glass is required to see the dots.

A principal application for this unusual approach is calendars, datebooks and diaries. You could write your business meeting for next week into your paper calendar, and it would be automatically transmitted to your desktop, where the appointment would appear in your PC calendar program. Other potential applications include interactive newspaper ads, notepads and postcards that transmit to e-mail.

Anoto's digital pen and paper stand a good chance of making it past the interesting innovation stage, partly due to the company's partnership list, which includes Ericsson and Mead. Convenience and a familiar interface also work in their favor. And as more Bluetooth-enabled devices hit the scene, the options for Anoto functionality will expand.

Digital paper and pens should start appearing on the market later this year. Anoto-enabled organizers and diaries are scheduled for sale with the arrival of 2002 calendars. By next year, we could be completely rethinking the way we interact with paper. Visit the Anoto Web site for more information.

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