Swapping files with a pen

Researchers at Sony’s Interaction Laboratory in Tokyo have developped a pen that extends the drag and drop technique used in most computer software to create a ‘pick and drop’ technique. In a nutshell, you will just need that pen to pick up a digital file or a note on a computer and pass it to someone else’s computer. Similarly, new acquaintances could exchange each other electronic business cards, or friends swap references to websites or music tracks.

Each pens has a unique ID that the computer reads when it approaches its screen. When an icon is “tapped” with the pen, the computer contacts a ‘pen manager’ server and the object is attached to the pen, although the pen itself has no storage capacity.

When the pen tip comes close to the screen of another device, a shadow of the attached object appears on its screen. Tapping the pen tip instructs the ‘pen manager’ server to copy the file to that location.

Another technique that the labs has developed is ‘pick and beam’ that uses displays projected onto tables and walls, using data projectors, that act as extended working spaces.

Documents can be dragged using a special pen from a computer desktop into these spaces. There they can be displayed or exchanged, allowing people to work with them almost as if they were paper documents.

Details in BBC Technology.