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Montblanc Augmented paper and Montblanc App close-up

When we were first told about Montblanc’s new Augmented Paper, the first question that popped into our heads was “How exactly do you augment something as basic and essential as paper?” Maybe we even asked “Why?”, as well. But when you see the discreet and, quite frankly, beautiful Montblanc leather case in which the Augmented Paper is contained, and as you open it up and take out the pen and begin to write, you realize how subtly necessary this product has become.

The way Augmented Paper works is remarkably simple and “normal.” You use a real Montblanc writing instrument and you write on real, everyday paper. The pen itself is a specially designed version of Montblanc’s StarWalker ballpoint pen that connects to the accompanying Italian leather-bound Augmented Paper pad. Write or draw on a piece of paper that sits on top of this augmented pad, jot down a note, sketch an image or fill the entire page with studied writing, then press the button on the pad, and what you’ve just taken down is transferred via Bluetooth to the partnered Montblanc app on your smartphone or tablet. You can split and combine these notes with others you’ve taken down or export them as text, pdf, jpg, or png files. And, in a neat trick, the app can even scan and convert your handwriting into digital text characters for when you export. Finally, you can search your handwritten notes for entire words or sentences, with the results displayed immediately.

Augmented Paper is simple and ideal for collaboration. The step-by-step approach of adding notations to the app means that you can essentially “build” your notes, with the physical page button on the Augmented Paper transmitting them to the app library and then, once in the app, allowing you to split or combine these notes even further. Meanwhile, the app’s built-in annotation tools allow you to mark up and scribble thoughts in whatever continuous creative process you’re involved in. I have personally used it across several meetings – from the weekly main editorial, to some creative kick-off calls – and it fit seamlessly into the work flow, allowing me to send over meeting notes to my managing editor as a pdf file.

Montblanc Augmented paper and Montblanc App close-up

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Montblanc Application for Augmented paper close-up

However, we’d be lying if we didn’t say that one of Augmented Paper’s main draws is simply its physical presence. Its soft black leather case, crafted at Montblanc’s own Pelletteria in Florence and from the brand’s Urban Spirit collection, gives off a rich smell that lingers in the air as you write. The new StarWalker writing instrument’s balance and feel across Montblanc’s specifically designed writing pad is easy, smooth and well-appointed, too. But the physical act of writing is important in itself. We’re editors, so of course we spend most of the day in front of our laptops writing, analyzing, and prioritizing information. However, you cannot exist or think properly if everything you do and see is on a screen. Having a beautiful tool to physically write down and organize your thoughts, and then to transfer to your laptop for reference later, seamlessly integrated with and immensely improved the workflow.

It’s this utilization of technology not only to bridge the virtual and physical worlds but to provide a high quality, almost personal product, that shows how and why Montblanc has stayed at the top of its game for more than a century. When the world turned digital, then when it turned social, and now as it becomes virtual in the increasingly sped up way in which we live our lives, to see a brand like Montblanc not necessarily following trends but actively selecting which technology can enhance our lived experience, and pairing it with their products, is inspiring.