LongPen makes short work of distance

Posted on Tuesday, November 20th, 02007 by Stuart Candy
link Categories: Technology, The Big Here   chat 0 Comments


Author Margaret Atwood, perhaps best known for the near-future fable The Handmaid’s Tale, has invented a device called LongPen which allows writers to sign their works at a distance, replicating their hand movements.

Says Atwood:

It is the world’s first long-distance, real-time signing and handwriting device.

In other words, the LongPen is not an Autopen, which signs your name over and over without your presence being required. Instead, the LongPen does whatever you have just done at your end, including ‘Happy Birthday Marge’ and a picture of a pussycat — making whatever marks you have just made, in the order and with the pressure you have made them. (The signature is a legal one – which LongPen has just had reconfirmed by an expert in this field.)

The LongPen is known in tech circles as a ‘disruptive technology’, which means – I’m told – that it came out of nowhere, was not anticipated, is not an enhancement of a pre-existing technology, and will radically change how things are done. Author signings are just a small part of the picture!

The product’s website keeps a running tally of the carbon saved by authors foregoing air travel to attend book signings (implying that they would otherwise have attended in person, which may or may not be the case). Still, the green credentials of the LongPen seem clear, and some of the possibilities it opens up are kind of intriguing: signing international contracts without flying anywhere; collaboration on tangible artwork; remote tattooing…

It compares interestingly to robotlab’s project The Bible Scribe, blogged here just last week. Put them together and you can shortly look forward to being the proud owner of an autograph signed remotely by your favourite robot author.

  • I’d love to use this to make long-distance drawings! In fact, with a video link, you could have someone sit for a portrait anywhere in the world. They could watch the drawing appear as you draw it, and immediately have it when you’re done. What I’d really prefer though is a LongPencil, with a LongEraser of course.

  • David A., (Portland, OR)

    Perhaps the details of this technology would contradict me, but from the information given, the Long Pen seems to be an ingenious but not entirely “disruptive” application/extension of a time-honored artist’s device for reproducing and/or transforming drawings, the pantograph.

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