Wacom has announced Inkling, a biro-and-receiver combo that captures what you're drawing while you work in a Moleskine, blank sheet or even a napkin.

Wacom say the Inkling is designed for rough concepting and creative brainstorming, but the only thing stopping it allowing full-on illustration creation is singular choice of nib -- a ballpoint. However, if Wacom applied its choice of pen types for its Intuos and Cintiq tablets to the Inkling, they could easily provide a choice of applicators from Rotoring-style nibs to pencils to brush pens.

The ballpoint pen uses Wacom’s pressure sensing technology (1,024 levels of sensitivity) to detect how hard the pen is being pressed to the paper while sketching. These pressure variations will appear in the digital version of your drawing.

Alongside the pen, the Inkling includes a wireless receiver that clips to the top or side of your paper or sketchbook -- it seems a line-of-sight link between the pen and receiver is needed for it to work. Pressing a button on the device allows you to create a new layer for componentised drawings, and the layered files can be opened intact in Photoshop or Illustrator (CS3 or later), or in Autodesk SketchBook Pro.

When sketching is complete, the receiver is connected to the user's computer via USB to transfer the digital files. Files can be opened with the included Inkling Sketch Manager software to edit, delete or add layers as well as to change the formats and transfer the files to your applications -- or save them in JPG, BMP, TIFF, PNG, SVG and PDF formats.

The pen and receiver store and recharge in a compact case (above top) that you can carry around with you for sketching wherever you find inspiration -- though we wouldn't recommend using it in the bath.
 
The Inkling costs £125 plus VAT. It will be available from October 2011 onwards. Wacom's ad for the Inkling (below) gives an idea of it in use.