The IRISPen II seems like the kind of nifty gadget that nobody would ever use. However, after just a few hours of mucking about, real possibilities begin to emerge.
Having a scanning pen allows the user to quickly and easily scan snippets from magazines, newspapers, business cards or pretty much anything. Having an image of a line of newspaper text isn't much use, so IRISPen's software instantly converts it to text using OCR (optical character recognition). It can even speak as it scans, using the Mac's text-to-speech function.
Scanning and converting documents to text can be quite sluggish, but not in this case. It's super snappy and extremely accurate - essential in making IRISPen a useful tool.
The pen is handy for plenty of uses. Business cards are my main source of scannable material - they clog the arteries of my communication strategy by sitting scattered in non-digital piles. The IRISPen simply scans the name and email address directly into Address Book. It's tricky at first, and some cards don't suit scanning, but with a bit of practice it works well.
Scanning numbers - such as financial data - sounds a bit risky, but the accuracy, as long as you have a steady hand, is pretty reliable. If want to scan the stock prices from a newspaper into a spreadsheet, IRISPen is ideal.
IRISPen integrates elegantly with just about any application that uses a keyboard input. As long as IRISPen's software is running in the background, whatever is scanned is instantly typed in.
IRISPen also reads barcodes. From libraries to mail-order companies, barcodes are integral to lots of businesses. The IRISPen offers an easy, compatible and cheap solution to barcode needs.
From a sceptical start I've really warmed to the IRISPen. If a scanning pen sounds useful, this is the only option - but rest assured: it works exactly as it says it does.