Sony Digital Paper and The Pursuit of the Paperless Office

Have you ever entered a meeting room to see people making notes on a notepad that will be typed into their laptop when they return to their desk? Despite the digital transformation of everything, we seldom talk about the broken dream of a truly paperless office. But, could Sony Digital Paper, be the answer?

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There is a wealth of touchscreens and electronic methods of taking notes using a stylus, but it still feels like something is missing from the Jack of all trades range of solutions at our disposal. What if there was a way of escaping our digital clutter and there was a new approach that could finally replace paper.

Meet Sony Digital Paper. A product that was created to replicate the simplicity of reading and writing on real paper, but with a digital twist. Essentially, it's a digital notepad that enables users to share their handwritten notes across devices easily. I caught up with Daniel Albohn, from the Global Business Development at Sony North America to find out more.

Neil: What is Sony Digital Paper and what makes it unique from other devices and solutions?

Daniel: We launched the original product a little over three years at the American Bar Association tech show in Chicago. Digital paper is shaped like an A-4 sheet of paper. Sony and E-Ink have put together a next-gen product that is a focused product.

Some people are trying to go paperless in their office wherever they work, whether it be public sector or the private sector. We see people swimming in paper continuously, even in this age of tablets, which have not been the answer to replacing paper.

We didn’t want to add another device that was littered and cluttered with apps and distractions. We created a relevant work tool. The adaptation of documents such as a thesis, a white paper, a dissertation, the reading of journal articles, are used heavily by our customers.

Our digital paper product is not a replacement for computers or tablets. In fact, it's not even competing with them. It's a compliment to other devices and it's more akin to a use case for paper, but with a digital twist.

Neil: Digital paper seems to be gaining moment in legal, financial, and medical fields. In fact, I see a use for any busy professional who read documents and take notes extensively. But, can you expand on any use cases?

Daniel: It’s been a hit with people sharing documents in the financial world. So, I anticipate with this next generation of digital paper, and we're going to see a greater adoption by Wall Street and the banking community or anyone dealing with financial documents, perhaps even in real estate.

Think of all the paper that gets handled in a real estate transaction. In the medical field, again, you go to a hospital, and you're still filling out tons of paper, in spite of this digital age.

We haven't done as much in the medical field, although I have spoken with people from cardiology and brain surgery about how they take important, extensive notes when they're interacting with the customers or patients. They don't use tablets, and they still carry paper notepads around.

School psychologists, psychiatrists, are other great examples. Can you imagine a psychiatrist interviewing the patient, behind a laptop computer with a keyboard? Hopefully, this brings to life what digital paper is all about because it's akin to holding a pad or another document.

Neil: What I love about Sony digital paper is that it's taking something from our old analog world and giving it a digital makeover. But what kind of feedback have you received from this product?

Daniel: We get so much feedback, and it’s incredible what people will post on Twitter or Facebook and how they use digital paper. Can you imagine a digital guy like a gamer, but he's also a mathematician, a programmer, a coder, and he sketches things on his digital paper? For some, it would be an expensive device for just sketching, but for others, if that's critical to your work, this is a worthy tool.

Neil: Could a non-techie pick it up and be able to be up and running within a few minutes without any of those steep learning curves that frustrate people outside of technology and IT departments?

Daniel: Sony Digital Paper is not cluttered with apps, it comes charged out of the box, anyone can open a note and start writing on it. There are a couple of steps to configure your handwriting. If you're a lefty or if you're a righty and there is a straightforward download to your computer, that is a little digital paper application, but that’s it.

It’s not complicated. My preferred method for transferring documents is Bluetooth. It’s quick and easy, and our intent was to keep it really simple for as many people as possible.

Neil: It's great to hear it has a 30-day battery life. That’s going to make a big difference for a lot of people that don’t want another device to charge each day. How many documents can it store? And can you share the tech specs?

Daniel: 16GB of storage. I think this equates to 10,000 documents. We have also now added the newer higher resolution display which offers improved contrast. For techies, it’s 1,650 by 2200 dots. The full list of specs for people is over on our app is on our website, which I'm sure I can share with you later, but about 13.3-inch diagonal, 12.3 ounces.

You can listen to the full interview with Sony's Daniel Albohn by clicking on the link below. Could Sony digital paper finally deliver a truly paperless office? Will it be enough to make you retire your traditional notepad? 

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