The story of how technology made the world tremble each time a spelling mistake was made...

What do you get when you put together a processor, some memory, Linux OS, vibration mode, motion sensor and Wi-Fi capabilities? A computer, of course. Now, what happens when you add some ink and a nib to this contraption? You get a digital pen that vibrates when it spots spelling mistakes or illegible writing.

The pulsating pen has steadily been writing its own success story in traditional and social media. And while the world stands agape at this new invention, India can only stand aside and yawn. From doors that shut themselves till eternity if a wrong password is uttered, to ghosts that give the slip when the wrong answer is given to their question, we’ve see it all in our mythological movies, haven’t we?

However, since science is always given preference over movies in our media, people have gone suitably ga-ga over the invention. And just when the pen is all set to chalk its own course, the naysayers (read manufacturers of ordinary gel pens and ball pens) have embarked on Project Sabotage, to make sure that the success story of the pen springs a leak.

Here’s their side of the argument: “Imagine students writing their exams with this pen. They would start trembling the minute they make a mistake. Schools would then inform their parents who would start wondering if their child had contracted examophobia, testitis, quizzaria or worse. This could in turn lead to child psychiatrists working overtime and minting money. The DVD sales of Taare Zameen Par will skyrocket all over again, with everyone wanting to know if a) their kid has a problem and b) Aamir would visit their kid’s school as well. There would also be other problems if the minicomputer inside became virus-infected. Parents would have a tough time sending leave letters to their kid’s school stating that their ward be excused from attending classes for two days because his pen had crashed. Schools would simply refuse to entertain such nonsense.

Doctors could also have a serious problem if they used the pen to write prescriptions. The digital pen would go hyper trying to decipher every squiggle of theirs — from Aspirin to Zinetac, not a word of their indecipherable writing would make sense to the pen, so it would protest and vibrate nonstop. And most pens would give up, with their mini on-board computer going into a freeze each time the doctor started prescribing medicines. ‘Patient alive, pen dead’ would be the common refrain heard in the corridors of every dispensary. Even if the pens survived this graphologic nightmare, the doctors wouldn’t be able to handle so many vibrations each minute and would be forced to seek medical assistance or an assistant, as the case may be.

There could also be serious issues if the pen were to be used in courts — judges and lawyers would appear to be under severe pressure if the hand that wrote the verdict trembled because of the vibration. The battery could be a problem as well — what if the pen ran out of charge and the writer had 750 episodes left in his daily soap? And what if the battery leaked, creating a short-circuit and sending coroners into a state of severe shock each time they signed a death certificate?”

Adding support to this argument, another anti-pen faction began a movement to bring back the pencil and oust the digital pen. Called Pencil-in, ‘the vaccine for trembling hands’, this movement suggested an innovation which would be so advanced that it would make the vibrating pen obsolete. The pen was able to point out mistakes made, but this innovation would do better — it would carry an implant that would actually help remove the error. This attachment needed no maintenance, microchip, software, power source or upgrades. It wouldn’t hang or get corrupt.

And that was how pencils with an eraser at the other end were born.

sureshl.india@gmail.com

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