A pen that can transfer handwriting into a computer has been developed by researchers at British Telecommunications Plc. It uses a spatial sensing system to translate writing into text as it is being written and BT claims it could start the biggest revolution in handwriting since the invention of the pen. The SmartQuill overcomes the problem of typing on tiny keyboards of portable devices and, linked to a mobile phone, could be used to send emails. Unlike devices like the ill-fated Apple Newton, SmartQuill does not need a screen to operate and it can even transcribe invisible writing in the air. BT also sees it as having big advantages in languages such as Chinese, which are difficult to write on traditional keyboards. Patents applications have been filed to cover the invention that can also function as a diary, calendar and database. Users will have to train the pen to understand their handwriting and it will recognize its owner’s signature as a password.