Press Release 116/2021

Artificial Intelligence: Digital Pen Helps Persons Learn to Write

Smart Learning Device Will Interact with Mobile Computers – KIT Coordinates the German-French Project KIHT
2021_116_Kuenstliche Intelligenz Digitaler Stift hilft beim Schreibenlernen_1_72dpi
The digital pen will combine handwriting with digital media and will help people learn to write. (Photo: STABILO International GmbH)

A smart digital pen that helps persons learn to write is currently being developed in the framework of the German-French project “Kaligo-based Intelligent Handwriting Teacher“ (KIHT). The collaboration project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Within this project, researchers of KIT study algorithms of artificial intelligence (AI) that enable reconstruction of a writing trace and interpretation of handwriting. The smart learning device is to benefit as many pupils as possible.

Handwriting is an important tool of the knowledge-based society. Repeated studies revealed that writing a text by hand results in a higher quality of the result than typing. A new project is now aimed at helping people learn to write and combine handwriting with digital media. Within the project “Kaligo-based Intelligent Handwriting Teacher“ (KIHT), research and industry partners from Germany and France develop a smart digital pen. The innovative learning device resembles a conventional pen in terms of all major properties and can be used for writing on paper. However, it is equipped with inertial sensors that capture smallest changes on the free spatial axes and, hence, to detect any position in space. The smart digital pen can be connected to any commercially available mobile end devices, including a tablet, and interacts with the mobile Kaligo app. With the help of this app, exercises can be adapted individually and data can be synchronized and stored automatically.

Teachers Are Given More Freedom for Creative and Communicative Tasks

“Use of the smart digital pen together with an adequate computer program automatically supports the learning of writing. In this way, teachers and parents are given more freedom for creative and communicative tasks,” says Professor Jürgen Becker, Head of KIT’s Institute for Information Processing Technology (ITIV). The software and AI algorithms are mainly dealt with by the French partners L’IRISA (Institut de Recherche en Informatique et Systèmes Aléatoires) and Learn&Go, both located in Rennes. Learn&Go, for instance, has developed the mobile Kaligo app for training how to write. Integration of suited AI concepts in the embedded systems is in the focus of the German partners, KIT and the manufacturer of writing instruments STABILO International in Heroldsberg. The project is coordinated by KIT.

Researchers Develop Concepts for Integrating Algorithms

The group of Professor Jürgen Becker, ITIV, studies algorithms suited for reconstruction of a writing trace and for interpretation of handwriting. Researchers develop various concepts to integrate the AI algorithms as a function of the embedded hardware. Complexity of the entire system is distributed between both hardware and software, which allows for rapid and efficient AI execution. The aim is to enable online reconstruction of the writing trace from the sensor data and to develop efficient and miniaturizing hardware that can interact with all commercially available mobile end devices. At the end of the KIHT project, a practical test at a demonstration plant is planned. Team leader Dr. Tanja Harbaum (ITIV) underscores the great potential of the smart digital pen for schools in particular: “This project pools the competencies of high-ranking international partners from science and industry and is aimed not only at advancing research, but also at providing an innovative product that benefits many children.”

Four partners from research and industry in Germany and France pool their competencies in the KIHT project.
(Figure: STABILO International GmbH/KIT).

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the KIHT project under its program to support German-French projects in the area of artificial intelligence. The project started in October 2021 and is scheduled for a duration of three years. The smart learning device will be made available to the largest possible group of users.

More Information: (in German)

More about the KIT Information · Systems · Technologies Center:

Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 10,000 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,800 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

or, 20.12.2021

Margarete Lehné
Chief Press Officer (acting)
Phone: +49 721 608-41105
Fax: +49 721 608-43658
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Contact for this press release:

Margarete Lehné
Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608-41157
Fax: +49 721 608-41157
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