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Totally Random Pen Stuff

• The LA Times reports that a new device expected out this summer will allow you to write with a pen on paper and transmit everything you write to your iPad in real time, exactly as it appears on paper.

The iNotebook itself really is the combination of an iPad app, the case, a transmitter/recorder and a special pen that connects with it.

How it works is that the transmitter sits above the page and watches you write with the special pen via infrared sensor and records what you write. Then through the app and a Bluetooth connection with your iPad, it shoots over your words -- or doodles -- in your very own hand almost simultaneously.

The downside: There's no optical character recognition. So what you write is what you get. As a result, there may be no visual character recognition either, depending on your handwriting.

The $150 device could be useful for saving notes, phone numbers, etc. but no word yet on how well pen writes, or how well it doesn't.

• Japanese pen maker Sakura put out a press release earlier this month announcing the release of a new one-stop calligraphy pen.

According to Sakura, the Pigma Calligrapher is:

 ...a unique, all-in-one, durable lettering art tool that produces crisp edges and sharp hairlines in 3 nib widths and 6 Pigma ink colors. This disposable pen has a hard nylon nib that withstands heavy pressure and constant use, and still provides a reliable, smooth ink flow from edge to edge.

Sakura says the pen is a cost-effective tool for beginning calligraphers because it eliminates the need for refills and multiple nibs.

Interestingly, Sakura started out making crayons nearly 100 years ago and claims to be the first company to have created gel-based ink.

• It's a common question: Can you poison yourself by writing on your skin with ink?

The answer is not really because the amounts of toxic substances in inks are so small that you would have to ingest large quantities (as in cups full) just to make yourself slightly ill.

However, the student paper at the University of Alaska - Anchorage decided to look into the matter and came to the conclusion that writing on your skin can be quite dangerous.

For instance, a blue gel pen uses a chemical called copper phthalocyanine (I’m glad this is written and I won’t have to try to pronounce that). Its Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) states that it is “hazardous in case of skin contact.” I think that’s straightforward enough.

But wait, that’s just the pigment. What about the solvent? It’s the component of the ink that makes sure all the ingredients stay together and you don’t get one liquid flowing out before another. Gel pens use a solvent called ethylene glycol. Its MSDS is even freakier than copper phthalocyanine’s. Even though its carcinogenic (cancer causing) effects aren’t classifiable for human or animals, its mutagenic effects sure are. And wait, there’s more! They’re specifically mutagenic for mammal’s body cells.

A little, um, over the top...but hey, we're just glad they're still interested in writing on something with pens.

• Paper Mate is running an all out marketing campaign to promote its new InkJoy pens, using the gimmick that theirs is the world's most stolen pen.

According to Media Post:

The effort...includes TV ads on cable channels Bravo, HGTV, Oxygen, TLC and TNT. There is also a digital buy on tap across multiple properties, including Facebook and Twitter, as well as social media and word-of-mouth. There are also in-language websites for each country.

Scott Crist, global director of marketing for Paper Mate, tells Marketing Daily that the last time the company ran TV ads was in January 2010 around the Winter Olympics in limited U.S. markets on select NBC stations.

"Paper Mate has strong brand equity around the world but we’ve been a little lackluster with our advertising and promotion over the last few years," he says. "The InkJoy launch is helping communicate a new, more modern Paper Mate in step with today’s more value-minded consumer."

The article also reports that women are the No. 1 buyers of Paper Mate products.

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