Digital ink connects people to the digital world

Interview with Stefan Kirmse, WACOM Europe GmbH

When you hear the word 'digital', you immediately think of keyboards – not pens. WACOM Europe GmbH has been a pioneer of digital writing culture for 35 years. A lot of people have already written in digital ink without realising they were using a Wacom product. Stefan Kirmse, Senior Vice President of Corporate Brand & Communication, tells us in an interview which visions the company is pursuing with its first-ever participation in Insights-X.

You'll be attending Insights-X for the very first time this October. Based on your portfolio, you are classified more as 'exotic'. Could you briefly describe your product and how you intend to introduce it to the trade visitors at Insights-X?

Wacom is, admittedly, not very widely known in the classic stationery sector. Nevertheless, for 35 years now, we've had a common target group of people who use pens and paper as tools: the creatives. The only thing is that, at Wacom, the pens and paper are digital. Wacom is at Insights-X in order to convey its vision of digital ink in the age of the digital transformation. So as to further the development of this new market category, we have launched a global industry initiative called the Digital Stationery Consortium (DSC). We're not stepping up to the mark to "conquer" the traditional stationery trade itself; rather, we are supporting our partners with regard to this. We provide the technology that strong brands such as Staedtler can use to develop innovative, digital solutions.

A lot of people have already come into contact with WACOM without them realising it. Could you describe a typical example of this?

Here's one "up-close" example: every one of us probably has some trainers or sneakers from brands like Nike, Adidas and so on. It is precisely these products that are digitally designed – using Wacom products. There's also hardly any film, advertisement, piece of furniture or car that hasn't been subject to some digital processing. And all of this is done using Wacom digital pen tablets or pen displays. What's more, a lot of the latest mobile devices and notebooks come with a Wacom pen and our digital ink technology. And when people pay by card in shops, the signature displays used are made by Wacom.

In what kind of scenarios will WACOM products be used in the future?

There will be more and more smartphones, tablets and notebooks that will allow people to input data using a pen and digital ink. However, Wacom's biometric pen technology is already being used in a whole load of signature and data collection processes, such as those used in car rental companies, hotels, hospitals, banks and government agencies. In some countries, a digital signature is used for ID cards or in eGovernment. These areas of applications will continue to grow.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of digitization for people from WACOM's point of view?

Analogue and digital ink and pen technologies are not opposites. Just like the fact that we still have classic paper books despite e-books. And yet, because of the vast amount of data, digital ink offers a lot of advantages, such as biometric security, the logging of time, location and author, as well as the transfer of digital ink in digital communication services, like video conferencing. As part of the digital transformation, digital ink and pen technology will be key components that will help us transfer the analogue processes such as writing and drawing that we learn as children into the digital world in an easy and hassle-free way.

Technicalisation and digitization generally bring with them the risk that the human factor will fall by the wayside. This is exactly where we step in – by creating a natural and intuitive interface between man and the digital world using pen and ink.

The office supplies and stationery industry regards the advancing process of digitization with mixed feelings. How do you at WACOM see the interaction of the analogue and digital worlds?

As I've said, Wacom doesn't see this as any form of "competition" or squeezing out at all. Both the analogue and the digital world will continue to coexist. But people who ignore the digital transformation will, in our estimation, miss out on important potentials for growth and development. That is why it is no coincidence that leading companies such as Mont Blanc, Staedtler, Stabilo, BIC and many others are currently getting to grips with the issue of digitization and have already launched corresponding products onto the market.

“We dream of a world alive with creativity.” How do you put your motto "WACOM – for a creative world" into practice?

With its products, Wacom has been supporting creative people from its establishment – from the world's best draughtsmen, artists and photographers, to the adolescent manga fan. At our sites, we engage in partnerships with loads of creative initiatives and – last but not least – we engage in an intensive dialogue with the creative community all around the world via social media channels, so that we can give them intensive support with developments, such as those in the field of virtual reality.

Novelties that move the stationery industry forward can be found in various ways at the Insights-X!


Wacom and more than 300 stationery manufacturers and distributors will attend the Insights-X from 4 - 6 October 2018 in Nuermberg.

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