The interface between people and technology should not always be tapping on and making strange hand gestures on glass, like you would on your smartphone or tablet.   We are always on the lookout for ways in which people and technology can get closer.  All too often we have to adapt our ways to suit the computer, but it doesn’t have to always be this way.  Today, we look at one way that computing has been adapted to cater for work we are more familiar with – using pen and paper.  This review focuses on Whitelines, a simple method for taking handwritten words and translating these into a machine interpretable form.

The Result.  Whitelines paper and notebooks provide a good alternative to black lined notebooks.  If you use Evernote across your organisation for sharing notes, then capturing notes using the app and being able to search on the written text would be helpful.  No need to type up meeting notes.  If you are not using Evernote, or are not intending to roll it out, then Whitelines doesn’t give you much extra.

The Review.  Whitelines consists of: Specially printed paper, and an app for digitally storing images of this paper and interpreting text.  Essentially, you write what you want on the special paper, take a photo of the page using the app, and click on a button to export to Evernote where you can search your handwritten text within Evernote .

Advantages

  • The search is surprisingly reliable.  Depending upon how neatly you handwrite, you should find that most of your handwritten text will be searchable.  See this for an example.
  • You can update any part of the page at any time and take a new photo
  • Cost effective.  All you need is a Whitelines notebook (with many sizes and types available on Amazon or at Officeworks) and the app (which is free).  The notebooks are priced similarly to higher end notebooks, like Moleskin.
  • Pages automatically adjusted and de-skewed

Challenges

  • Anything you write outside of the corner markers is cropped away, so make sure your scribbles remain within these.
  • A bit fiddly having to capture the notebook page in the app and then send it to Evernote to be able to make your notes searchable.
  • You can send your notes via a variety of formats, including OneNote, but your notes are only searchable if you are using Evernote.
  • No conversion of handwritten notes to text.

Have I been using Whitelines?  Well, I did for a bit in capturing images of my notes, but I refer to use OneNote rather than Evernote, so I don’t really get an opportunity to use the search feature.  I use an A5 Whitelines notebook for taking meeting notes because I do like that the lines are white rather than black.  I don’t use the app at all.

Ability to get you out of the office earlier.  One star.

2 Comments
  1. […] Groovy gadget.  We don’t make enough good use of gadgets in the office, do we?  Tools that could make us more productive are often looked over as more of a fad or gimmick.  But they could be hiding the next secret for getting your work done faster – meaning more time for the things that you really would prefer doing, like going to the pub or heading off home early.  Over the next few weeks, we’ll road-test a variety of gadgets to see whether they can free up your time.  This week we reviewed Whitelines, a method for capturing written notes and making them searchable.  Read the review here. […]

  2. […] favourite item for the week.  That would be my Lifescribe 3 Smartpen.  Goes one step further than Whiltelines where handwriting is directly captured and converted to text.  The reliability of converting […]

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