We've been talking about higher performance SoCs for quite a while now, but the number of applications for these things beyond making your UI faster is fairly limited today. With faster hardware comes more demanding software, and earlier today I got a glimpse of a pretty neat application that Qualcomm is looking at.
The technology comes from a company called epos. The device is a pen with two ultrasonic transmitters in it. You can write with the pen on any surface (e.g. a piece of paper) and use the microphone in your smartphone to pick up the sound signature emitted by the pen. 
Pair it all up with some processing on Qualcomm's dual-core SoC and you can write on a piece of paper and have it automatically transcribe on your smartphone.
There are no changes that need to be made to the smartphone, you can rely on the standard microphone that ships on all smartphones. Epos mentioned that its software can pick up the pen's signature from a radius of around 30 cm from the mic. 
The technology is pretty cool and I can see a number of real world applications for it. If you wanted a pen-and-paper feel but want your notes to be stored digitally, this is one option. Qualcomm mentioned that we could see smartphones or tablets featuring this technology starting next year. 
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  • vol7ron - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    This is pretty neat, I suspect that it doesn't work so well for sensitivity. I'd like to see this applied for drawing applications. Getting the feedback from paper is much better than drawing on a track pad.
  • Murloc - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    this thing probably can't detect pressure on the paper so I don't think it would be that useful.

    It's nice to take notes on paper (or do drawings to be added to digital notes you're taking with any device) and have them in digital format immediately though.
  • shadowofthesun - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    I don't see why not- if the ultrasonic waves vary in both amplitude and frequency, you can store alot of analog data in that wave, including (presumably) pressure from the pen tip
  • wifiwolf - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    Isn't a mechanical wave less power effective than a electromagnetic one like Bluetooth for instance?
  • FaaR - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    It might consume less power than bluetooth due to much less complicated tech (no need for electronics to run an entire BT networking stack, just a set of dumb signal generators and piezoelectric speakers or somesuch), but the range is bloody limited at only 30 cm(ish), and what about crowded noisy environs, or heck, multiple people in the vicinity using these gadgets? BT would indeed be much more resilient.
  • Narcofis - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    I'm sure your dog is not going to like you when you use that pen. Especially with the 25khz range. Could be useful to chase them away. :P
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