Adapx Raises $9M to Bring Digital Pen Technology to Mobile Field Workers

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Adapx is targeting business users and companies with mobile field workers—not mainstream consumers, who have not been compelled to use digital pens so far. So a construction worker, utilities manager, soldier, or emergency rescue team leader can take handwritten notes on a map in the field, say, and then e-mail the information to their boss or commanding officer when they get to a computer.

“From a return-on-investment perspective, what our customers are seeing is, we let them keep their natural workflow,” Schneider says. “And it’s a much lower cost of ownership. They can get data back rapidly off the paper, without having to re-key the data.”

Schneider says the digital pen technology is not meant to replace PDAs or laptops, but it can work in situations where a PDA or laptop won’t, and it’s cheaper. A basic version of the product, including the pen and software, costs around $300. “We see ourselves as being part of the next big computing phase and wave of technology that will come from natural user interfaces,” he says.

Until recently, Adapx was primarily a research and development company, doing work for federal government organizations like the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Schneider came on board about two years ago to help the company introduce its first marketed product. Adapx raised a $10 million Series A round in 2007, and shipped its product in 2008. It now has 45 employees. Schneider says he is expecting to see revenue growth of more than 200 percent in 2009, and looking for the company to break even by the middle of 2010. The new funds will be used to expand the Adapx product line, partner network, and sales and marketing team.

As for the competition, Schneider says there are no other companies in the digital pen space that have both a developed product and a focus on business and government customers. But there are companies like Oakland, CA-based LiveScribe that make digital pen technologies for the consumer market. The main goal for Adapx now, Schneider says, is to “continue to get large companies deploying us broadly.” In this climate, he adds, “your products have to be a must-have, not a ‘nice to have.'”

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Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] Follow @gthuang

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