Some years ago I worked for a Colombia based company called Marketing Digital. It was a pretty small company and we were selling online marketing strategies: online surveys, newsletter, email campaigns (no spam), SEO, etc. One of our big moves was to introduce real time surveys from mobile phones. We bought a number (20 approx) of Kyocera mobile phones and started touring around the country surveying every kind of events. We did beauty contests, shops in sale, openings, etc. That was good!
However, our system had some pitfalls:
– It was a cgi-perl application that only one developer understood and could maintain.
– It run from the browser and needed constant connection to the Internet.
– After every question the system had to do a full post back before loading the next question.
– The cost for the data usage over the cellular network was extremmely high (we are talking Colombia 2003).
Lately, I have been writing a report on related work for my PhD. As I don’t really know what my focus really is, I have been reading a lot about a set of topics: ethnographic studies, paper interfaces, laboratory notebooks and context-awareness. And it’s in the paper interfaces readings where I got to know about the digital pens. These pens register the strokes made with actual ink on a special kind of paper. These strokes can be streamed to a computer nearby over a BlueTooth connection or can be locally stored in the pen and be processed later. Traditionally, the digital pen applications where running on a desktop computer, but a new company called Livescribe is introducing new digital pens that can run applications developed by an user, with a Java API that is based in the J2ME platform.
OK, no more introduction and to the point: How can these digital pens be used for implementing a mobile real-time survey system like the one we had with the Kyocera? What are the advantages of using a digital pen based system over one using mobile terminal? How is the cost structure of operating such a system?
I’ve got really puzzled and I think I will have to find a couple of weeks in the future to run a small project and answer these questions.