Saturday, November 19, 2005
Speaker for your FLY pentop computer
Frappr! Just opened group there!
Includes FLY Pentop Computer, earbuds, carrying case, FLY Launch Pad Guide, 17 games, 35 FLY paper pages, three interactive FLY-FX cards, interactive map and one silver face plate.
For instance, the company said, someone can draw a calculator, touch the handwritten digits and functions to perform an operation, and then hear the answers announced.
A group of children aged 8 to 13 helped to develop the product, LeapFrog said. The company will offer a range of applications for learning, communicating and playing.
Emeryville, Calif.-based LeapFrog has been plagued by weak sales and earnings misses, and recently said it relied too heavily on its LeapPad business.
The past year has hurt investor confidence in the company, and it has made sweeping changes to its management team.
LeapFrog had been a Wall Street star after its 2002 initial public offering, but a string of dismal reports from the company hurt its credibility with investors, and its shares have taken a beating since October.
LeapPad is a junior-sized laptop system that holds interactive workbooks that teach skills like reading and math. The company makes educational toys for children from infants to high school students, but its focus has been on younger children. The company has said it wants to expand its product lines for older children and develop learning aids for adults.
This is the device that will take over the world. About ten years ago, or more, there was a pen computing company in Arizona called Slate. It was a wonderful idea, being able to enter text with a pen, but it was unbelievably ahead of its time. Its genius of a founder, Vern Raburn, has now gone off to do something else that’s unbelievably ahead of its time: personal jet taxis.
But pen computing, like speech recognition, has always been the Holy Grail of men who don’t type, so the idea never goes away. It has surfaced repeatedly in various touch screens, note-taking software, and Tablet PCs. If you think about it, pen computing is now at the Best Buy checkout stand, when you sign your credit card slip with the little stylus attached to the screen.
FlyPen is different. No screens or styli are involved. The entire device is handheld like a pen, and you use it to write on, of all things, PAPER. Which makes it possible to use in, say, middle school. Or, say, fancy restaurants where you wouldn’t dream of hauling out your laptop.
You write with the FlyPen on its special lined paper, and an optical scanner takes a picture of each character and saves it in a small self-contained computer. The pen then plays back what you have written in a human voice. The FlyPen will also record music, and even create music. New software will be developed to extend its capabilities, I’m sure.
But as of now, you can make the FlyPen alert you to appointments, because it has a scheduler. You can use it to keep your contacts, because it has an address book. It tells you everything you need to know.
Because it is aimed at a youth market, it has a lot of other non-productivity related features, such as games and math help, word puzzles and other stuff of the sort that senior citizens use to ward off Alzheimer’s. I predict that’s the secondary market.
The FlyPen even has a calculator function. Indeed, if it only had a phone in it, I would trade in my Blackberry for a FlyPen, despite its age inappropriateness for me.
I suspect that one day it will have a phone, or phones will have FlyPens, and that there will be a significant share of the market that will prefer not to endure carpal tunnel, Blackberry thumb, and all the other repetitive motion injuries to which computing has made us vulnerable.
On second thought, did I tell you that I still have a big callous on my third finger from where I held the pen when I was in school?