Note-taking and Innovation

By Linh PMP

Richard Branson, the billionaire with over 400 companies, attributed some of his most successful ideas to note taking. Sharing about a meeting where he was the only person taking note, he said: “I ran out of white space and had to write over my notes, my hotel notepad, my report and even my name tag!”

Successful people like Branson tend to take more effective notes, yet these notes are usually all over the places, on different devices, in different formats. Though digital solutions, like Evernote -with 200 million users and five billion notes in the last eight years, have innovated the way people virtually organize their ideas, many note-takers still end up writing on paper instead.

A research in 2014 did prove that taking notes on paper is better than typing on laptop. In the research, those taking handwriting notes had a stronger conceptual understanding and more success in applying the material. In terms of neurology, using a pen to tangibly draw letters triggers the right-brain of creativity, while typing engages the left-brain of reasons and logic. Creation happens when right-brain creative thinking override left-brain internal judgments.

Now let’s take a look at the innovation of note taking that embraces right-brain activities and see where it should go.


Insight: “I find handwriting notes more convenient than digital ones, but I spend about 76 hours a year looking for misplaced notes”.

Opportunity: There is an opportunity to provide a convenient way to arrange and keep track of handwriting notes.

What if: The handwriting notes can be recorded digitally, arranged logically, and the note system will notify the owner to revise the relevant notes as scheduled?

Analogy: Scanner (Optical Character Recognition – OCR) + Blog’ s Related Posts + Alarm Clock.

Evernote and some other OCR software providers have provided the service of handwriting scanner, yet having some bugs and recognizing only nice handwriting.


Smart Pens

Insight: “I have Evernote on digital devices, but I still take note on paper, then take the photo of my note and upload on my Evernote”.

Opportunity: There is an opportunity to transfer paper note to digital form without any uploading.

What if: I can seamlessly create a digital version while writing on paper by hand?

That’s how Smart Pens came to life.


Note-taking Assistant

Insight: “I feel empowered with all the supporting technologies, but at the same time overwhelmed with notes from notebooks, post-its, slides, conference handouts, websites, books, ebooks, emails, phone notes, etc.”

Opportunity: There is an opportunity to use technology to integrate all sources of collected knowledge/idea storages.

What if: Artificial Intelligence becomes the note taking assistant that keeps track of all idea forms, reformats them into good-looking visuals, puts all in one internal system, and links them to the big data cloud for broader queries?

Analogy: Google Assistant + Smart Pens + Evernote.

It should be there, for better information learning and idea generation!


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