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German start-up looks to combat poor spelling with innovative pen

Graeme Parton

While the spellchecking function present on most modern electronic devices can be useful, the lack of handwriting in modern society can’t be doing our spelling skills any good.

Although it may not be solving the problem altogether, a German tech firm has revealed some interesting plans to limit the number of mistakes committed to paper.

Lernstift is a pen which, as well as carrying standard ink, has a computer on board that has been programmed to pick its users up on spelling mistakes as they write.

One of the firm’s co-founders, Daniel Kaesmacher, spoke about how the new device works, saying:

“Basically there are two functions. The calligraphy mode which helps you correct individual letters, and the orthography mode which vibrates when a word is misspelled.”

The pen’s computer, which makes use of the open-source operating system Linux, is powered by a single AAA battery. It uses a motion sensor to recognise the movements made by the writer and the shapes of the letters produced before using a vibrating module to provide an alert.

According to Kaesmacher, Lernstift is capable of recognising all movements. The device’s Wi-Fi capability also allows users to link up to computers, smartphones and even other pens.

Lernstift came about after Falk Wolsky, a software developer, saw his son struggling with homework. The comparison was then made between the humble pen and the modern equivalent, the word-processing computer. Wolsky then started to construct a prototype before bringing together a number of software and hardware experts at the end of 2012.

Some experts are a little more cautious, though. Professor Emeritus of Education at the University of Sheffield, Greg Brooks, said of the pen:

“Will it learn individuals’ quirks of handwriting, or insist on one style? I can see how it might be programmed to spot obvious spelling errors (non-words), just as the spellcheckers in word processors do — but none of those can yet cope with real-word errors.”

Brooks’ comments highlight the fact that even computer programs are unable to guarantee accuracy when it comes to spelling and grammar. It is for this reason that so many companies turn to professional copywriting services to produce high quality content.

Graeme has experience creating content for online sources and for the radio, and at university he studied Multimedia Journalism.

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