One of the biggest differences between modern tablets and smartphones and most of those that were available before 2007 is that you don’t need to use a stylus. Most modern devices with touchscreen displays use capacitive touch technology that allows you to touch, type, tap, or swipe using a fingertip.

But that doesn’t mean the pen is dead. Samsung’s Galaxy Note line of devices feature both a capacitive touch panel and an active stylus (or digital pen) for pressure-sensitive writing or drawing. Microsoft’s Surface tablets are designed for pen input, as are many third-party Windows tablets and convertibles.

There are still a few different standards for digital pens, but a few years ago a group of companies including Intel, Wacom, and Synaptics tried to simplify things by launching a Universal Styus Initiative (USI).

Now six new companies are joining that initiative.

Google, 3M Touch Systems, Lattice Semiconductor, Maxeye Smart Technologies, MyScript, and Tactual Labs are all on board now.

The USI says that brings total membership to more than 30 companies.

In 2016 the group released the USI 1.0 Specification, which provides a non-proprietary active stylus protocol that hardware makers can use to ensure that any USI 1.0-compatible digital pen they design will work with all USI 1.0-compatible touchscreen devices, and vice versa.

Other features of the standard include 2-way communication a touchscreen device and an active stylus (to help minimize interference from other wireless devices), the ability to store ink color and brush stroke data to be stored on the device (so you can use the same stylus with the same settings on multiple devices), and support for using up to 6 pens with a single touchscreen device simultaneously.

The standard also supports 9-axis inertial measurement and 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Today’s announcement is the first new item on the organization’s press release page since the USI 1.0 spec was released. Hopefully it means we’ll start to see USI compatible hardware soon… possibly from companies including Google (and other existing members such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo).

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10 replies on “Google, 3M, and others join the Universal Stylus Initiative”

  1. Hopefully the palm rejections works well. I’d
    also like the AAAA batteries done away with,
    replaced by AAA batteries.

      1. There exists rechargeable AAA batteries (I have some), probably rechargeable AAAAs exist as well.

    1. In modern devices, styluses are always optional, just an extra feature in addition to capacitive touch or just using your finger. But just like writing with a pen with its different levels of pressure and degrees of angle is preferable to finger painting, writing with a digital stylus can be much preferred to using touch on a display.

    2. Well, it could be used for drawing. And yeap, drawing with the stylus in question much better compared drawing with a finger. My father, who hates anything about PC drawing, draw a wonderful picture on my Samsung Galaxy Note with zero tutoring and from the first try.

  2. Just please make AAAA batteries die! Either a rechargable battery in the tylus of better yet those Wacom types that work passively but still have multiple buttons and pressure sensitivity!

  3. Can they make it so I can have a small device with an LCD screen that I can keep off to the side with my inking preferences on it? Call it a palette or whatever. It could have color pickers and line settings that I can tap and then use on my tablet without pulling down additional menus.

    1. If you build it yourself, sure.
      I wouldn’t hold my breath for very niche solutions though.

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