1. Business Ideas
  2. Business Plans
  3. Startup Basics
  4. Startup Funding
  5. Franchising
  6. Success Stories
  7. Entrepreneurs
Product and service reviews are conducted independently by our editorial team, but we sometimes make money when you click on links. Learn more.
Start Your Business Business Ideas

New Wacom Bamboo Spark Turns Handwriting into Text

Wacom Bamboo Spark, business technology The Bamboo Spark works with any paper notebook. / Credit: Jeremy Lips

Special notebooks and pens that back up your handwritten notes to the cloud are not new, but Wacom's version of the technology has a couple of key advantages. The Bamboo Spark is a special folio-and-pen combination that lets you write out notes with real ink and then digitizes them and sends copies to your smartphone, tablet or PC.

But unlike the Livescribe system, which can only digitize your notes if you write on special paper, the Bamboo Spark works with any old notebook. And unlike with HP's Pro Slate 8, you don't have to keep a tablet awkwardly lined up alongside your notepad as you write. You're good to go, as long as you're writing with the Bamboo Spark ink pen. Plus, it's placed inside a special folio that comes with the pen. When you're finished writing, your notes can be digitized instantly with the push of a button on the folio's left edge.

The $160 Bamboo Spark first became available for purchase last fall, but it lacked one crucial feature: text recognition. This week, Wacom has upgraded the Spark iOS app to enable it to capture your handwritten notes as digital text, so they can be indexed and searched using keywords. Not to mention, the digital text is more legible, which is good for note-takers with messy handwriting. You can also beam your notes to compatible apps, including OneNote and Evernote.

The updated Bamboo Spark isn't the only item Wacom showed off this week. It also debuted a new stylus called the Bamboo Smart, which lets you take notes on compatible Windows devices with full pressure sensitivity. But the Bamboo Smart can't turn any tablet into a Microsoft Surface-like note-taking machine; so far, only a handful of devices have the Active Electrostatic technology needed to pair with the pen, including the Dell Venue 10, the HP Elite x2 1021, the Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga and the Toshiba DynaPad N72.

Brett Nuckles

A former Ohio newspaper man, Brett Nuckles fled the Midwest in 2013. He now lives in Seattle, where he spends his days tinkering with smartphones, tablets and computers. He loves to think about the intersection of technology and productivity, and how to get the most out of new gadgets and apps. He's also a big fan of vegetarian food and digital painting. In his off hours he spends most of his time drawing and painting sci-fi/fantasy scenes on his PC with his trusty Wacom stylus in hand.