Google & Five Others Join The Universal Stylus Initiative

Six new companies, including Google, have now joined The Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) in its efforts to advance an open standard for active stylus accessories. That's according to a new announcement made on January 30 which also outlined the roles to be played by those companies in support of USI. The new additions also include 3M Touch Systems, Inc., Lattice Semiconductor, Maxeye Smart Technologies Co., Ltd., MyScript, and Tactual Labs Co. - bringing the total number of companies involved in USI over 30. For those who may not already be aware, USI was first launched back in 2015 as a non-profit effort to standardize communications between an active stylus and touchscreen-enabled device. It effectively works to ensure that all compliant styluses work with all compatible screen technologies.

The current universal stylus standard is USI 1.0, which acts as a groundwork for non-proprietary active stylus protocol for both independent stylus manufacturers and OEMs. That includes companies across the board from smartphones to computers and plug-and-play accessories. Beyond that, it lays a foundation for future innovations with active styluses such as the ability to use multiple styluses on a single screen at the same time. Perhaps surprisingly, the initiative was first kicked off by some of the biggest names in the active stylus industry - including Intel, Wacom, and Synaptics. Other prominent members include Lenovo, Sharp, Dell, and Japan Display Inc.

With regard to the roles to be undertaken by USI's newest members, there are a total of three categories. Google's position will be to act as a promoter of the initiative and its goals. That makes sense because, while the company does take part in some hardware development and in setting standards for Android or Chrome OS devices, its primary operations are directly related to search and advertising. Meanwhile, MyScript and Tactual Labs Co. will take an active role in contributing to the development of future iterations of the standards as the technology moves forward. Finally, 3M, Lattice, and Maxeye will be adopter members. Although it isn't immediately clear, that presumably implies that the final three companies will act primarily as supporters of the standards themselves and have pledged to incorporate those into their own consumer products.

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