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What Is Digital Ink?

Digital ink may be used with tablet computers.
Digital ink technology is generally available on personal digital assistants.
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  • Written By: Laura Phillips
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2014
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Digital ink is a form of technology that allows handwriting and drawings to be added electronically to documents and be displayed on a computer monitor. Typically, a digital ink system utilizes a special digital pen or stylus to electronically record what is written onto digital paper — a pad designed specifically for that purpose. Handwriting can be converted through handwriting recognition technology to standard text or it can be saved in its original form. Similarly, drawings can be saved in their original form or manipulated with software.

The terms digital ink and electronic ink, or E ink, often are used interchangeably, but there are specific nuances in meaning. Electronic ink refers to the ink portion of the inking technology used with electronic paper in general. In other words, a digital pen is used to create an electronic ink image on digital paper. E ink is a specific type of electronic paper manufactured by E Ink Corporation. Digital ink is a more general term that encompasses various technologies and processes of converting and displaying handwriting, text, and images.

Digital ink was widely introduced into public use in the 1990s with use of portable e-terminals for signing for receipt of packages or making credit card purchases. Later uses included note-taking and data entry on tablet computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile phones, and eReaders. Digital ink systems have evolved over time to include drawing, animation, cameras, and touch-sensitive whiteboards, as well.

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Generally, digital ink systems have proven particularly useful in both real and virtual classrooms, allowing instructors to prepare detailed materials ahead of time and then make notes in the margins of on-screen slides or sketch in additional drawings as needed during the course of a lecture. Other practical applications include the use of digital forms and pens for polls, census-taking, and other information gathering. The use of the technology instead of paper forms saves paper and usually is considered more efficient for gathering, storing, retrieving, and transmitting many types of information. Digital forms have replaced some or all paper forms in many business, medical, and governmental offices.

Similarly, digital ink and paint technology has replaced traditional ink and paint techniques in animation. The artists' original series of drawings are scanned into a computer for processing by software that allows artists and animators to make adjustments to colors, shapes, and other details. This process is also used to combine the drawings in layers with other drawings, soundtracks, and special effects.

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anon263796
Post 3

I have an iPad (I am using a first generation one) with an app called "Note Plus," for $9.00 (I tried all the rest).

It writes your notes, converts handwriting to text if desired. Use in conjunction with Evernote (Free) for a perfect solution.

KoiwiGal
Post 2

My mother is a school principal and she ends up having to go to a conference pretty much every few months. For a long time, she's been hauling around her huge, old laptop. It has to go with her onto the plane, of course, and then she has to lug it to the hotel and on to the conference.

In the end, she realized it was getting ridiculous and has now started looking for a cheap tablet so that she can take notes with it, and use it for anything else the laptop might have been needed for (storing files, etc).

But it's really confusing when it comes to the lower level tablets. She can't afford an expensive one, which has all the features, so she has to pick and choose carefully to make sure she gets one that does what she needs it to do.

In the end I directed her to an electronics forum, so she could ask people about it directly, because she really had no idea how to go about finding out the information she needed.

pleonasm
Post 1

It's amazing how little I think about it now when I'm asked to sign for something and they hand me a stylus and an electronic pad.

And yet when I started reading this article I was thinking about what a new invention it was to be able to take notes on a tablet and have them be recorded.

I guess it took a while for it to be worth putting this technology into everyday use for people, since paper and pen is so much cheaper, most people just (still) take notes using that.

I do think it's a shame that most animation is done digitally now though. I like the new animation styles, but I also liked the old ones, and feel like something has been lost because of it.

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