A group of technology companies including Intel, Wacom, Synaptics, and Lenovo want to make it easier for you to buy a digital pen and know that it’ll work with your tablet of choice… eventually.

The companies are forming a new organization called the Universal Stylus Iniative (USI) which hopes to create an promote an industry standard for an active stylus.


If the initiative takes off, it could lead to device makers offering digital pens that can be used interchangeably with any phone, tablet, or other device that supports the standard.

The goal is to have an initial specification in place by the third quarter of 2015, covering features such as the way the stylus communicates with your device, how many levels of pressure sensitivity it supports, and what happens when you press buttons.

If USI is successful, it could mean that the pen you buy to use with your next tablet may also work with your next phone, the tablet you eventually buy as a replacement, or other devices.

On the other hand, specs like this tend to be upgraded over time, so it’s not clear how long new devices will be backward compatible. It’s also not clear that every company will jump on the USI bandwagon: N-Trig is one of the major players in the digital pen space today, but the press release announcing the new group makes no mention of that company.

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6 replies on “Universal Stylus Initiative aims to simplify your choice of digital pens”

  1. Really excited for this to come out, only to be followed by Apple making its own tablet stylus that ignores all of these specifications and is completely incompatible with them so you have to buy an MFi stylus for your iPad.

  2. We need an alternative that can use a passive stylus. This sounds like another scam to keep device prices high as component costs drop.

    1. How can it be passive, but offer the features consumers want? (pressure sensitivity, hover, etc)

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