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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 even 'why?’ as well. But when you see the tasteful and, quite frankly, beautiful Montblanc leather case the Augmented Paper is contained in, and when you open it up and take out the pen and begin to write, you realise how subtly necessary this product has become.

The way Augmented Paper works is remarkably simple and 'natural'. 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 with 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 your handwritten thoughts; then just press the button on the pad and what you’ve produced 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 already put in the system or export them in the form of text, pdf, jpg, png, or will files. And, here’s a neat trick; the app can even scan and convert your handwriting into digital text characters that you can then export. Finally, you can also search your handwritten notes for entire words or sentences, and the results are displayed immediately.

Augmented Paper is simple to use and ideal for collaborative work. 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 then split or combine these notes at will. Meanwhile, the app’s in-built annotation tools allow you to mark up and scribble thoughts in whatever continuous creative process you’re involved in. I personally used it at several meetings – at the weekly main editorial and some creative kick-off calls – and it fitted seamlessly into my work flow, allowing me to send over meeting notes to my managing editor as a pdf file.

However, we’d be missing the main point 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 part of 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 as it moves across Montblanc’s specially designed writing pad is easy, smooth and luxurious, 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, analysing, and prioritising information. However, you can’t work or think properly if everything you do and see is only on a screen. Having a beautiful tool to physically write down and organise your thoughts, which can then be transferred to your laptop for reference later, seamlessly integrated with and immensely improved my workflow.

It’s this utilisation of technology to not only bridge the virtual and physical worlds but also to provide a high quality, almost personal product that makes you realise how and why Montblanc has stayed at the top of its game for more than a century. First the world turned digital, then it went social; and now as it becomes virtual and we live our lives in an increasingly speeded-up fashion it is inspiring to see a brand like Montblanc not necessarily following trends but actively selecting which technology it considers will enhance our lived experience, and pairing this with their products.