BT's PDA in a pen...

BT this week announced a patent for a fountain pen it claims could "revolutionise" the hand held computer arena.

The pen, known as SmartQuill, is a fully working prototype which will detect movements of the hand using sensors and convert them into text. It is not necessary to write on paper, a movement in the air or on any surface will suffice.

When placed in its 'inkwell' the SmartQuill can send data to a connected PC.

Although SmartQuill will be of no use for taking notes in the traditional sense, it will act exactly like a PDA according to BT and includes a diary, contacts database, notepad and e-mail.

Roger Payne technical project co-ordinator at BT believes the pen will be the first of its kind. "As far as I'm aware we are the only people working on this so it will be unique," he said. "The pen contains a small computer and sensors which monitor the angle of the pen in space."

BT hopes to launch the pen in the "next year or two" and there could be a range of models, from basic to an executive version. "We could see an elementary version which school children would use, but our target user would be the mobile office worker," Payne said.