Hardware makers pushing spec to standardize the stylus

Posted on Monday, April 27 2015 @ 13:23 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
A number of hardware makers have announced the launch of the Universal Stylus Initiative (USI), an organization tasked with the development of creating an industry standard for an active stylus. Among others, the founding members include well known firms like Intel, Lenovo, Sharp, Synaptics, Wacom, and Dell.
Prominent OEMs, stylus and touch controller manufacturers today announced the launch of Universal Stylus Initiative (USI), a new organization formed to develop and promote an industry specification for an active stylus.

The USI specification will make it possible for manufacturers to design products to a single standard, rather than the variety of proprietary approaches now in use, and it will be compatible with current notebook computer operating system requirements. USI seeks to provide a consistent user experience while increasing the availability and consumer appeal of the active stylus, through providing industry-wide interoperability and adding functions and features not supported by current styluses.

Founding members of USI include Atmel Corporation; Hanvon Pentech Co., Ltd.; Intel Corporation; Lenovo Inc.; Sharp Corporation; Synaptics Inc.; Wacom Co., Ltd.; and Waltop International Corp. at the Promoter level; and Dell Global B.V.; eGalax_eMPIA Technology Inc. (EETI); Elan Microelectronics Corporation; and Focal Tech Electronics, Ltd. at the Contributor level.

USI technology will enable interoperable communication between an active stylus and touch-enabled devices such as phones, tablets, and computing and entertainment platforms from numerous manufacturers, allowing consumers to seamlessly write or draw on different devices with one high-quality stylus that delivers a realistic pen-on-paper experience. The group expects to publish the initial version of the USI specification in the third quarter of 2015.

“USI’s founding members have come together to enable interoperable active styluses that function across many content creation devices,” said Ajay Bhatt, Intel Fellow. “Our goal is to make the active stylus more affordable and widely available in the market. Consumers who buy USI-compatible devices will know that they work seamlessly with each other while providing a high-quality writing or drawing experience.”

“The market has sorely been needing a universal communication standard for active stylus,” said Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research. “To date the market has been limited by proprietary touch controller-stylus solutions, which limits OEM choices and cost reductions. With the USI specification released, we expect that the capacitive active stylus market will grow from 100 million units in 2015 to 300 million units in 2018, opening up new markets such as smartphones and all-in-one PCs.”

Features of the USI specification include the method by which the stylus communicates with content creation devices and provides additional information such as stylus pressure levels, button presses, erasing, and other features. Through the same sensor that one’s finger uses to command a device, the stylus communicates via different frequencies to perform the action of writing — writing with up to 2048 different levels of pressure to give the pen-on-paper experience and render thinner or thicker lines in note-taking, painting and doodling, just like an ink pen.

USI is currently accepting additional member companies who are ready to be hands-on in completing and promoting a specification to achieve active stylus interoperability. USI welcomes any organization that wants to be involved in this industry initiative. Several membership levels are available.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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