Dec 11 2014

What If the Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard?

Microsoft’s Surface Pen brings more than technical wow to the tablet, it brings a more human experience.

In a digital world designed around the traditional keyboard-and-mouse user interface, is there still room for the humble pen?

Brian Hall, general manager for Microsoft’s Surface tablet, believes there is. Speaking at CDW’s Future of IT event at the Feinberg Theater in Chicago, he laid out the case for the role of the pen, talking specifically about the Surface Pen and what it brings to Microsoft’s recently released Surface Pro 3 tablet.

“With the Surface, we said, ‘Let’s get down the basic [user experience elements] and do them well,’ ” Hall said.

While the technical features of the pen are impressive — it interacts with the tablet more precisely than either finger swipes or keyboard clicks — the human elements that the pen brings to the tablet are what make it an intriguing device. Hall cited scientific studies and surveys that highlighted the pen’s role in improving learning retention when taking notes, aiding in collaboration and creative projects, even building interpersonal connection among meeting participants.

As anyone in a meeting room full of people ensconced behind their notebooks can attest to, these experiences can be very impersonal. But the use of a pen with a tablet opens up people’s participation in a meeting, leading to great collaboration. And, as Hall points out, “The pen helps make meetings not suck so much.”

Watch his full speech from the Future of IT event below.