The LongPen, invented by Margaret Atwood, involves a video screen and automated pen.

The LongPen, a device invented by Canadian writer Margaret Atwood that has the potential to become a favourite tool for authors and other celebrities, will undergo a trial run this fall.

Thedevice,comprisinga video screen and digital writing pad at one location and a video screen and automated pen at another, allows authors, sports heroes, movie stars and other celebritiesto sign autographs without leaving home.

In recent days, it's been tested at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, with U.S. author Norman Mailer and Ontario writer Alice Munro using it to sign copies of their work without having to travel to the site.

This fall, kiosks featuring the LongPen will be set up at the World's Biggest Bookstore and the HMV flagship store in Toronto, Barnes & Noble in New York and Waterstone's in London.

Bruce Walsh, a spokesman for Atwood's Toronto company, Unotchit, which is building thepens,says all kinds of celebrities might be interested in the device.

"You could potentially see the talent in their dressing room, somewhere, and they could actually sign into a bookstore," Walsh said.

"It doesn't really matter. If there's a kiosk set up, you can sign all kinds of different kinds of talent into wherever the kiosk happens to be."

Celebrities who hate unnecessary travel because of its impact on the environment may be a big market for the device, according to tech observer Richard Worzel of Toronto.

"[The LongPen] could be assisted by the public's desire to be carbon neutral," Worzel said, noting interest by stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and the Barenaked Ladies.

"If you're having a film festival and Julia Roberts can't come … but she's willing to help promote the movie by signing autographs, great idea. She can stay in Hollywood and people here in Toronto can talk to her and get her to sign an autograph and so on."

With files from the Canadian Press