I just had an hour-long conversation with Stepan Pachikov, a developer at the forefront of handwriting recognition technology in computer software. He’s probably most famous for his company, ParaGraph, which he co-founded and which provided the handwriting recognition technology used in the Apple Newton. He has also developed similar handwriting recognition technology for Silicon Graphics, Microsoft and the U.S. Postal Service. In his spare time, Stepan is writing a book of old Russian jokes.
Stepan recounted an amusing anecdote about the Newton experience. Apple wanted to license the technology for a product they were working on, but they wouldn’t tell the ParaGraph team what it was. ParaGraph agreed to the license anyway. When the Newton arrived months later, Stepan sensed a missed opportunity. He would have been able to make the handwriting recognition much better if he had been able to get his hands on the device and customize the software.
That’s one argument against closed, secretive development.
The product Stepan was here to show off was EverNote, the software application created by his new company of the same name. EverNote is information collection software that acts as a database for your life. Every note you put into it (typed, photographed or scrawled with a pointing device) is synced across all of your devices and stored on the web — it truly has the power to eliminate Post It notes, scraps of paper, random digital photo files and other bits of information from your life by archiving and indexing everything digitally. It makes your peripheral information searchable, taggable and accessible, instantly.
Stepan is passionate about his product, which of course integrates handwriting recognition technology complete with cursive recognition. He couldn’t wait to show me the next feature and the next cool thing his company is building into the product. I’ll post a full review of Evernote later on.
[Photo by Esther Dyson, via Flickr]