An Alternative To The iPad For Field Notes & Sketches

For over a dozen years, I have been working in construction consulting, especially in the area of construction defect investigations. I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve the process of collecting data in the field. In the past I’ve written about:

While I obviously see a lot of potential for the iPad as a device for capturing notes, sketches and checklist type information, there are some drawbacks. For one thing, the device is fragile – not an ideal characteristic for something used on a construction site. Secondly, there is the problem of adoption by senior professionals. This is by far the most challenging aspect of integrating new technologies into the construction consulting field. A new product from Wacom may offer an alternative.

Introducing the Inkling by Wacom

The Inkling by Wacom
The Inkling by Wacom

According to the product page for the Inkling:

The Inkling digital sketch pen captures a digital likeness of your work while you sketch with its ballpoint tip on any sketchbook or standard piece of paper. Designed for rough concepting and creative brainstorming, Inkling is ideal for the front end of the creative process. Later, refine your work on your computer using an Intuos4 tablet or Cintiq interactive pen display.

In addition to capturing your sketch, stroke by stroke, Inkling allows you to create layers in digital files while you sketch on paper. Digital files are transferred to your computer using the Inkling Sketch Manager software, and later, exported to applications such as Adobe® Photoshop® and Illustrator®. Files can also be opened with the included Inkling Sketch Manager software to edit, delete, add layers or change file formats.

Check out the video for a demonstration of how the device works:

What’s The Point?

By utilizing a pen and paper, the Wacom Inkling means that the learning curve for implementing such a tool won’t be very steep. I see no reason that the receiver couldn’t be attached to a clipboard capturing input from the user in the field. Then it is simply a matter of downloading pictures from a camera and downloading the files from the Inkling receiver.

In my opinion, this is yet another excellent option for construction consultants, forensic experts, home inspectors, etc., to capture information in the field digitally.

The Wacom Inkling comes out in mid-September and will cost around $200.