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STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Carlo Cassisa scribbled a few drawings on a Post-It note and then tapped the note with his pen. A second later, the drawing appeared on his cell phone screen.
"It's simple once you get used to it," said the executive for Swedish telecom giant TeliaSonera. "Of course, it takes some getting used to."
Cassisa is one of dozens of foot soldiers for the most aggressive attempt yet to put digital pens on consumer and corporate buy lists. Anoto -- the Swedish company that developed the technology for sticking a tiny camera in a pen and transferring the information to a computer or cell phone -- has lined up partners around the world to begin rolling out digital pens.
"We're tapping into pen and paper, the largest information infrastructure in the world," said Anoto CEO Christer Fåhraeus. "It's a market that isn't going away."
In Scandinavia, TeliaSonera is touting Sony Ericsson "Chatpens" that can wirelessly send e-mail and faxes. Telecom Italia rolled out Chatpens in Italy earlier this month. A new Chinese company, backed by $24 million in venture capital, plans to build the Chinese market for Anoto pens.
In the United States, FranklinCovey customers equipped with digital pens made by Logitech will be able to scribble notes into both their day planners and computers starting in January. MediMedia, a medical publisher, will start selling digital pens and forms early next year to doctors who want to electronically gather information on their patients.
Handwriting software concern Mi-Co thinks it can sell digital pens to prison and public safety workers. Meanwhile, 3M, Cambridge and other paper makers are churning out the special digital paper Anoto pens can recognize.
"In 15 years, digital pens may be as common as mobile phones," Fåhraeus predicted.
At $200, Logitech's new io pen isn't ready for low-budget consumers. It's also hard to adjust to a pen that's as thick as a sausage and buzzes at you.
"Right now, you're definitely in the early-adopter stage for this type of device," said mobile technology analyst Seamus McAteer of Zelos Group in San Francisco.
Anoto also faces competition from the likes of OTM Technologies, an Israeli startup that has developed technology for a laser-guided pen that writes on any surface and can also be used as a mouse. Microsoft, Siemens and Motorola are among the companies developing products based on the technology.
None of that fazes Logitech Director of Business Development Ashish Arora, who sees a market for the io pen from HMOs, insurers, truckers -- anybody deluged by paper forms.
"Anytime there's a sales-relationship business, the idea of using computers is not very pervasive," Arora said. "You still see people taking notes with a pen. If you give those people the ability to go back to their offices and pass the data to their computers, it's pretty powerful stuff."
Logitech's pen, which can hold up to 40 pages of written material in its memory, syncs to a computer in a cradle. Like other Anoto pens, it must be used on special paper imprinted with dots. The pen's built-in camera creates coordinates from the dots for the squiggles it senses.
Despite the technology's current limitations, Anoto's Fåhraeus has little doubt digital pens will stand the test of time. In the next few years, he predicts, they'll shrink to the size of normal pens and prices will slip below $100, making them ubiquitous.
"Paper has one big disadvantage: It can't give you feedback," he said. "That's going to change."