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Pen PC - Pen Shaped Miniature Personal Computer

Outline
Email claims that attached photographs depict a revolutionary new pen-shaped personal computer that operates via a projected virtual keyboard and monitor.



Brief Analysis
The photographs are genuine but they show only a prototype computer. These devices are not yet available to consumers. It is currently unclear when or if personal computers of this type will become available to the public.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.

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Last updated: 8th October 2010
First published: 17th April 2009
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example:
Subject: FW: Amazing Technology from Japan!

I must have one of these

Pen Computer 1

Look closely and guess what they could be...

Pen Computer 2

Are they pens with cameras?

Pen Computer 3

Any wild guesses? No clue yet?

Ladies and gentlemen... congratulations!
You've just looked into the future... yep that's right!

You've just seen something that will replace your PC in the near future.

Here is how it works:

Pen Computer 4

In the revolution of miniature computers, scientists have made great developments with bluetooth technology...

This is the forthcoming computers you can carry within your pockets

Pen Computer 5

This "pen sort of instrument" produces both the monitor as well as the keyboard on any flat surfaces from where you can carry out functions you would normally do on your desktop computer.

Pen Computer 6

Pen Computer 7

Can anyone say, "Goodbye laptops!"

Looks like our computers are out of date..again!




Detailed Analysis
According to this email forward, a series of attached photographs show a new concept in personal computing - a pen-shaped miniaturized PC that users operate via a virtual monitor and keyboard that the device projects onto any available flat surface. The message suggests that these handy pen-sized computers may be set to replace existing PC's and laptops in the near future.

However, although a conceptual prototype of the "pen" computer was built in 2003, such devices are not yet available to consumers. The prototype device, dubbed the "P-ISM", was a "Pen-style Personal Networking Gadget" created in 2003 by Japanese technology company NEC. The P-ISM was featured at the 2003 ITU Telecom World held in Geneva, Switzerland. An article about the device published on the Wave Report website in 2004 explains:
At ITU Telecom World we got a sample of another view by NEC. It is based on the pen and called P-ISM. This concept is so radical that we went to Tokyo to learn more.

The design concept uses five different pens to make a computer. One pen is a CPU, another a camera, one creates a virtual keyboard, another projects the visual output and thus the display and another a communicator (a phone). All five pens can rest in a holding block which recharges the batteries and holds the mass storage. Each pen communicates wireless, possibly Bluetooth.
A write-up about the P-ISM that was previously available on an NEC website notes:
A Pen-style Personal Networking Gadget Package

It seems that information terminals are infinitely getting smaller. However, we will continue to manipulate them with our hands for now. We have visualized the connection between the latest technology and the human, in a form of a pen. P-ISM is a gadget package including five functions: a pen-style cellular phone with a handwriting data input function, virtual keyboard, a very small projector, camera scanner, and personal ID key with cashless pass function. P-ISMs are connected with one another through short-range wireless technology. The whole set is also connected to the Internet through the cellular phone function. This personal gadget in a minimalistic pen style enables the ultimate ubiquitous computing.
However, the prototype displayed at ITU Telecom World was apparently the only sample that was built and reportedly cost $30,000. Thus, while the prototype may have proved that such technology is feasible, it is currently unclear when - or even if - personal computers of this type will become available to the public. Several years on from the initial launch of the P-ISM conceptual prototype, there seems to be little information available about future plans for such products. Saying "goodbye" to our current laptop computers might therefore be just a tad premature at this point.

While consumers can not yet purchase "pen" computers like the P-ISM, virtual projected keyboards like the ones shown in the photographs are already available from various companies including Lumio and Virtual Devices Inc.

It should be noted that the last two virtual keyboard photographs in the sequence were apparently added later and do not depict the original P-ISM set up.

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References
NEC Pushes the Envelope with a New Design for Computing
NEC - P-ISM (Via Wayback Machine)
Lumio - Virtual Interface Technologies
Virtual Devices Inc



Last updated: 8th October 2010
First published: 17th April 2009
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer