From “writer automaton” to handwriting API

Ironically René Descartes’ “I think therefore I am” sentence was already jotted down 250 years ago by a mechanical android, respectively “writer automaton”.

The Beginning: The Writer automaton of Pierre Jaquet-Droz

The writer by Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1774)

Actually designed to look like a boy, “the writer” was created by Swiss-born watchmaker Pierre Jaquet-Droz in 1744. It was a complex mechanical masterpiece and it still works today. But such machines served primarily for entertainment purposes. This writing machine couldn’t think, but it was a cause for thought:

Would machines one day also be able to reason like humans?

‘The Writer’ Automaton by Pierre Jaquet-Droz (1774)

Computers are Everywhere

In the meantime Computers and computer science has become an integral part of our lives. Computers play chess, talk to us, sort mail, some even write poetry. Computer algorithms — a.k.a. algobots — are managing up to 80% of all trades on global stock markets or even actively managing financial portfolios. But one thing was missing: The human handwriting. The writing system 1.0, cursive on paper which resulted from the movement of the quill, remained a blank spot on the map of digitalization, as a derivative of the rather playfull androids from Pierre Jaquet-Droz.

Handwriting and the digital age

The advent of the keyboard and all the texting on all those devices has caused many people to neglect their penmanship over the last 30 years. Not only „digital natives“ rarely grab a pen and paper nowadays, but as texting has made (snail mail) letters essentially obsolete, the gift of phyiscal mail is treasured. Somebody who endears himself to its friends/customers by sending them handwritten snail mail certainly stands out from the constant stream of electronic junk mail.

A recent study in Germany has shown that 80 % of Germans are delighted when they find something handwritten in their (snail) mailbox. Robots aren’t able to think yet, but they are able to master our handwritings and can put them authentically on paper with ball-pen and fountain pen. Day and night, seven days a week without getting tired; whether they are writing an individual postcard or masses of the same note.

An open API for handwriting

Technology makes our lives easier. Today it is even possible to combine technology with authentic handwriting. As a personal, human means of communication, the emotional effect of handwriting is a much sought after thing in certain industries.

And what would be more obvious than a seamless integration of such solutions in already existing CRM and helpdesk systems?

Thanks to Pensaki’s open API (Application Programming Interface), this is now possible for the first time. The result is always something handwritten that will surprise and delight its recipients, especially when the sender reveals who actually has wielded the pen.

Because with all technophilia and all digital-to-offline interfaces it shouldn’t be forgotten that a lot of people long for reading something handwritten again; they just lack the necessary ingredients, mainly time and a readable handwriting.

At the same time a lot of room for creative experiments remains, because the content is totally up to the sender: It can be a simple message from the Facebook wall, instructions for live role playing, a love letter or simply a thank you message.

So despite all the technological advances and ways to simplify our lives, it’s still up to us to use our brains to think about what we want to write to whom and why.

Sources:

Der Schreiber | Galerie des Merveilles — Jaquet Droz
Androids in the Enlightenment, Mechanics, Artisans, and Cultures of the Self
Roboter: Computer schreiben sachlicher als Menschen | ZEIT ONLINE
Algorithmic trading — Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
80% der Deutschen freuen sich über etwas Handschriftliches im Briefkasten
API für handschriftliche Korrespondenz ⎟Pensaki