Microsoft Develops a Stylus that Works on Every Display

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24 Jul, 2012 12:33 am


Microsoft is currently considering the introduction of a new stylus that would work on any screen. The stylus would allow greater accuracy in selection, writing, etc, and could eliminate the need for each screen to come with a digitizer or other touch-screen layer. According to Technology Review, the development work is already well advanced and the stylus has already received high marks in internal testing. Currently, Microsoft is allegedly discussing whether or not the stylus should be promoted to market status  and they are exploring the potential of the device as a commercial product. The new stylus works with an integrated camera that uses the grid pattern of pixels on the screen as an orientation point.

The camera acts as one of the pixels and can tell how far the stylus has moved. The data is transmitted via a radio connection to the computer, almost like a mouse. Basically it works similar to the familiar “smart pens” of the Livescribe brand that are used for note-taking purposes only and are oriented with the help of dots on special paper. The new stylus cameras from Microsoft “look” sideways out of the housing at a particular angle. This allows it to determine its position on the basis of the different appearance of the display pixels and the camera is kept in focus with the angle of the stylus on the screen.

The stylus knows where it is on the devices because of the “average brightness” of the blue pixels on the screen. Blue was chosen specifically because the human eye doesn’t have too many receptors for the color blue and won’t be distracted by it. In tests, this approach worked very well on smartphones, large desktops and tablets. To push the concept to market, it is nevertheless necessary to deal with a crucial problem: the camera. The resolution of the camera would have to be increased significantly. For the stylus to work more reliably, the mini-camera would need at least 512 × 512 pixels and a new chip to support it. But is still not clear whether Microsoft is willing to invest in the development of the stylus. Personally, I think it’s fascinating and I’d like to see them develop this.

Source: Technology Review

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