Could Wacom's new device make you use pen and paper again?

Wacom has unveiled the Bamboo Spark, which digitises your sketches with almost no effort.

In recent years, most artists and illustrators have been sucked in to the ease and efficiency of drawing digitally. But in our hearts, nothing beats the tactile joy of connecting pencil with paper.

Bridging the divide between the two is something Wacom has long been working on, and here's its latest device for squaring that particular circle.

The Bamboo Spark is a hybrid ballpoint/electronic-folio system for notetaking and sketching on real paper. Costing $160, it allows creatives to take handwritten notes to capture, shape and share ideas – and ensures no idea is ever lost.

The product allows users to write and sketch with Bamboo Spark’s traditional ink pen on most A5 paper. The smart folio’s EMR (Electro-Magnetic Resonance) board communicates with the pen to provide what Wacom claims is "proven, near-perfect digital input".

With the push of a button, it syncs what you've written or sketched on the paper to the Wacom Cloud, storing it to share or work on later.

Getting started

To get started, you just download the Bamboo Spark app on an iOS or Android device, pair the device with the app and start making ideas happen.

Every stroke is saved within the app by simply pushing the button in the center of the device, saving up to 100 pages even in offline mode. You can refine and edit notes in the Bamboo Spark app or export them to Bamboo Paper, Evernote or Dropbox.

The Bamboo Spark is all about sharing

The free Wacom Cloud account provides you with access to content across devices. You can charge the Bamboo Spark folio via USB for approximately eight hours of continuous use. Ink refills are available on the Wacom estore, and should allow for up to three months of use.

Choose your model

The Bamboo Spark comes in three models, each priced at $159.95/ €159.90/£119.99:

  • Bamboo Spark with gadget pocket, featuring a carrier for smartphone, pen, business cards and paper
  • Bamboo Spark with tablet sleeve, made with premium neoprene, provides room for a tablet and/or smartphone, pen and paper; and
  • Bamboo Spark with snap-fit for iPad Air 2, specifically designed for the iPad Air 2, pen and paper.

Ink cartridges are available in packs of three for $9.99/€9.90/£7.99. Bamboo Spark and its accessories are expected to ship in October from Wacom’s eStore, Amazon and other electronic retailers.

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Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers. Over two decades in journalism he’s worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella. Follow him on Twitter @tom_may.