Normally, when a company self-proclaims that they are “The world’s first,” it comes with a bit of skepticism – mostly because their competition has similar claims. Thankfully, OTM Technologies has created an input device that is truly a world’s first. Introducing Phree – an unrestricted, high resolution, and portable smart gadget that lets you write, draw, and annotate with a personalized touch.
With the hopes of moving away from a screen-heavy culture, the Phree lets you interact on virtually any surface. Capable of connecting to all smart devices (phone, tablet, laptop, flat screen, etc.), the Phree is a highly-versatile, intuitive device designed to integrate with any Bluetooth-enabled gadget. Compatible with Office, One Note, EverNote, Acrobat, Google Handwriting, and Viber, OTM Technologies created a writing device tailored to the on-the-go creative.
As I write this review sitting at a café in the South of France, I can see why this could be an incredibly useful travel companion. From jotting down ideas for my next writing assignment to listing the best restaurants in Saint Guilhem-le-Desert, this device can keep track of my interactions all while sending the information to my connected devices at the same time.
With a Kickstarter campaign that has raised over $1 Million, Phree allows for real-time on-screen digital ink rendering, making the transition from traditional writing to digital transcription a seamless one. With no extra steps needed while connecting to your smartphone. Backed by Optical Translation Measurement (OTM) technology, Phree strategically tracks hand motion across virtually any surface, in a wide dynamic range.
“We managed to engineer and build a compact, low-cost optical sensor that fits at the tip of a pen-like device. The combination of one-of-a-kind, breakthrough technology, and ergonomic, user-friendly design brings you Phree.”
Engineered with the user in mind, Phree is equipped with a touch display that always faces you for easy activation. Whether you want to the pen to be a highlighter, change colors from red to blue, or tap into the messaging/dialing feature, there is a full suite of features that adjust to the user’s preference.
The case has embedded wireless charging – you charge your Phree by simply putting it in its case and placing the case on a wireless charging pad (not included).
The case cap attaches magnetically to the body of the case to form an adjustable stand for any smartphone. Just place your phone in the stand, begin writing or drawing off-screen with Phree and voilà – you have an instant mobile workstation that actually works. Phree can be ordered with or without a case.
The patented OTM sensor is a compact 3D laser interferometer. It tracks the relative motion of a nearby surface by measuring the interference signal between a laser beam projected on the surface and the reflections from the surface. The beauty of this system is that it extracts the motion signal optically.
The OTM sensor can measure the motion of any object that we can see with our eyes, in three dimensions, with extremely high resolution and very high accuracy, up to a distance of about one inch from the object. It, therefore, continues to measure hand motion between strokes. The sensor uses the same laser used in optical mice and is eye-safe at any distance.
Phree’s graphical touch-screen is used for Bluetooth connection and context-sensitive interaction with various applications. The standard icons on the display include notifications – messages and phone calls. When used with specific applications the display will change to allow quick interaction with common features. For note taking, for example, the display may show pen, eraser, and highlighter. The touch panel recognizes single fingers and swipe left/right.
Opportunities for Developers
An open API allows developers to make use of the screen for specific interaction with their applications. The API provides access to additional sensor information such as vertical (Z) motion data, as well as access to the accelerometer.