Over the last couple of years, we've seen mobile stylus use make a reappearance, thanks in large part to Samsung's Note series, including the Note smartphones, Note 8.0, and Note 10.1. The devices include a Wacom stylus that is incredibly precise and goes against the general thought that using one is clumsy and buggy. At the one of the biggest general technology show, Computex, we hadn't heard all that much about stylus powered devices, and while we still don't have a specific device that revolutionizes the pen, Nvidia has shown of a pretty cool feature that its new Tegra 4 chipset supports.
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang is personally on hand at the Computex and is showing off the company's new Tegra 4 processor technology. Normally, the company is touting how fast and versatile the processor is, but this time around, Huang was showing off a slightly more niche feature. He showed off the Tegra 4 processor paired with the company's DirectTouch display technology. This allows for an ordinary mechanical stylus to perform the tasks that normally require a digital stylus. Huang showed off this technology at the show on a prototype tablet. He showed how the DirectTouch technology was able to detect how hard someone was pushing on the screen and draw thick or thin lines while the person was drawing. He called this pressure-sensitive task calligraphy. As anyone who has drawn on a tablet before, you normally have to manually change the thickness of lines through a menu, but DirectTouch uses pressure sensitive technology to automatically change the size of lines.
"We're using image processing technology to reduce the cost of a stylus, from $20 for a digital stylus to zero for a mechanical stylus," he said. The stylus can be made from any capacitive material, Huang said.
DirectTouch is incredibly important because it improves the responsiveness and resolution of the screen by off-loading the the work normally requiring a specialized touch controller to the Tegra 4.
"The precision of DirectTouch is many times higher than your normal touch controller, so the screen resolution is higher," Huang said. "And the sample rate of the screen is much higher. I'm sampling at 300 frames per second."
Huang claimed that the accuracy of the technology is down to the millimeter, but quickly added that it also depends on the skill of the user. He couldn't say what devices would be supporting this technology and when they would launch, however.
Are you interested in improved stylus input with tablets? Let us know down in the comments!