Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

The Lernstift smartpen checks your spelling as you write

A German inventor has created a pen with a computer built in to its casing, which alerts the user to spelling mistakes as they write. A German inventor has created a pen with a computer built in to its casing, which alerts the user to spelling mistakes as they write.
HIDE CAPTION
Digital spellchecker for the analogue world
Digital spellchecker for the analogue world
Digital spellchecker for the analogue world
Digital spellchecker for the analogue world
Digital spellchecker for the analogue world
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Prototype ink pen vibrates when users make mistakes writing letters and words
  • Lernstift (German for "learning pen") created by Munich-based start-up
  • Pen has computer inside casing with motion sensor which spots spelling mistakes
  • Kickstarter campaign launched to help development and production

(CNN) -- Wher woud some of us bea withoot spell check?

The sometimes annoying, but frankly indispensable computer aid has spared billions of typographical blushes.

Now, an ingenious prototype pen developed by a German start-up is promising to give our longhand writing a similar sort of safety net.

Lernstift (German for "learning pen") is a digital pen with a difference, carrying not only ink inside its casing but also a tiny computer that alerts users to spelling errors.

Daniel Kaesmacher, co-founder of Lernstift told CNN: "Basically there are two functions. The calligraphy mode which helps you correct individual letters, and the orthography mode which vibrates when a word is misspelled."

The AAA battery-powered Linux computer includes a vibration module and a patent pending non-optical motion sensor which recognizes specific movements and shapes of letters and words.

Tiny hooks revolutionize concrete
Microchip replicates real-life movements
Math whiz masters machine translation

The pen employs a menagerie of sensors, including a gyroscope (for measuring orientation), accelerometer (for calculating propulsion) and magnetometer (a device that measures the strength and direction of magnetic fields) -- all to calculate the pen's 3-D movements.

Interactive: The future of 3D printing

Lernstift recognizes all writing movements, the company says, written on paper or in the air and built-in Wi-Fi allows scribblers to connect with smartphones, computers or other pens in a network.

The pen was invented by software developer and Lernstift founder Falk Wolsky after seeing his wife's frustrations at watching their son struggle with his homework. Why can't pens give instant feedback on mistakes? she asked.

His imagination fired, Wolsky set about constructing a prototype before assembling a team of hardware and software experts late last year.

"We are at the stage where the individual components do their job. We haven't put it together yet, but the response to the idea though has been overwhelming," Kaesmacher said.

The pen has been designed primarily as an educational tool and the Munich-based company are hopeful that dyslexic children will find the new pen particularly useful.

Greg Brooks, Professor Emeritus of Education at the UK's University of Sheffield gave the pen a cautious welcome.

"It's a neat idea in principle, but as ever the proof will be in the using of it," Brooks said via email.

"Will it learn individuals' quirks of handwriting, or insist on one style? I can see how it might be programmed to spot obvious spelling errors (non-words), just as the spellcheckers in word processors do -- but none of those can yet cope with real-word errors."

A Kickstarter campaign recently got underway looking to raise £120,000 ($180,000) and tests in schools will begin later this year.

The first pens will initially recognize only English and German spellings, but other languages will follow, says Kaesmacher.

"Learning your native language is one thing, but it's also the perfect tool to adapt for foreign language students," he says.

"From a cultural point of view, the pen is a wonderful bridge between cursive and technological worlds."

Eventually, the company plan to offer pencil, fountain and ballpoint pen options with a launch price between €120-150 ($160-200) falling to under €50 ($60) depending on how fast the company grows.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
It's like a chair that isn't there, but magically appears whenever you need it. It's called the Chairless Chair. Find out how it works.
updated 5:39 AM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
Engineer Alan Bond has been developing a new concept for space travel for over 30 years -- and his creation is now on the verge of lift off.
updated 8:10 AM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Crumbling buildings, burnt-out PCs, and cracked screens -- a new generation of "self-healing" technologies could soon consign them to history.
updated 5:09 AM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
Discover a dancing cactus field, basketball on the Hudson River, and mind-bending 3D projections on robotic screens.
updated 1:07 PM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
Would you live there? Design student Peter Trimble says it's actually a surprisingly good idea.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Wed May 14, 2014
Alpha Sphere
Singing Tesla coils, musical ice cream, vegetables on drums... and this ball? Find out how "hackers" have created a new generation of instruments.
updated 12:43 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
Technology has long learned from nature, but now it's going micro. "Cellular biomimicry" sees designers take inspiration from plant and animal cells.
updated 1:08 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Forget wearable tech, embeddable implants are here. Learn more about the pioneers who are implanting devices into their bodies.
updated 6:26 AM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
A visitor of the 'NEXT Berlin' conference tries out Google Glass, a wearable computer that responds to voice commands and displays information before your eyes. It is expected to go to market in late 2013.
We know how wearable tech can enhance our fitness lives but there's evidence that its most significant application is yet to come: the workplace.
updated 4:13 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Samsung's research unit announces new way to synthesize graphene, potentially opening the door to commercial production.
updated 8:15 AM EDT, Mon March 31, 2014
iRobot, creators of vacuuming robot Roomba reveal how they learned from secret experiments -- in space travel, minefields, and toys.
updated 12:23 PM EDT, Fri March 28, 2014
A light-bulb glowing in middle of a room with no wires attached. "It's the future," says Dr Katie Hall.
updated 11:26 AM EST, Mon March 3, 2014
Knee replacements that encourage cells to regrow could soon be manufactured -- by spiders. Find out how.
updated 9:03 AM EST, Fri February 14, 2014
Meet Chuck Hull: the humble American engineer who changed the world of manufacturing.
updated 9:48 AM EST, Thu February 6, 2014
The key to self-knowledge? Or just the return of the phony "mood ring"? Check out our top mood-sensing technology in development.
ADVERTISEMENT