If technology’s worth comes from what you do with it, a new system leveraging digital pens and common printers to mate marks on paper with their authoring files may be valuable indeed.

‘Plots’ contain a wealth of routing data.

The tech bits are not new, but the workflow developed around them is. Bentley Systems Inc., Exton, Pa., announced ProjectWise Dynamic Plot V8i on May 27. When users of the ProjectWise content management and collaboration system use the dynamic plot option to print, a background pattern is produced on the paper. It is like a microscopic bar code on steroids. When a digital pen with a tiny camera behind the tip touches it, the pen not only records the stroke but also the location on the page and the identity of the document written on. Dock the pen in a USB cradle and the marks flow back to the source document as a new redline layer.

HNTB Corp.’s Kansas City office was a test site. Kevin van Haaren, HNTB’s ProjectWise administrator, says user implementation was as simple as picking up a pen. He says the benefits for distributed projects was immediately apparent and the cost “did not seem excessive” to him. “The time savings are really clear,” he says.