Microsoft reportedly working on stylus for any LCD screen

Even though more and more tablets and smartphones use touch screens, most notebooks and PC monitors have screens that are not made specifically for touch interfaces. Now a new report claims that Microsoft is working on a prototype for a stylus product that, if it goes into production, could be used for most any digital screen, touch sensitive and otherwise.

MIT's Technology Review website reports that the team behind this prototype have developed technology that puts a small camera inside a stylus. That camera can then read the pixels when placed on a display. A wireless connection on the stylus then transmits the information to the PC, much how a wireless mouse works.

If this project comes into its full form, the stylus could, in theory, be used to interact with, for example, a notebook with the Metro UI in Windows 8 even if the notebook doesn't have a touch screen LCD. The biggest obstacle to the project is developing the sensor needed for the stylus. The report states that it would need to have a 512x512 resolution in order to work. By contrast, the image sensor for a wireless mouse works with a 30x30 resolution.

In the meantime, the same team has created a design that would add four radio antennae into the frame of a regular display, which can then read the information from a stylus.

Source: Technology Review

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17 Comments

I wonder what the latency on this would be. If it's worse than the 100ms currently for touch screens I don't think it'll be viable.

migo said,
I wonder what the latency on this would be. If it's worse than the 100ms currently for touch screens I don't think it'll be viable.

That was my first thought. Microsoft have been doing a lot of work to reduce the latency on touchscreens and I would hope that would feed into something like this.

jakem1 said,

That was my first thought. Microsoft have been doing a lot of work to reduce the latency on touchscreens and I would hope that would feed into something like this.

With generic proximity there is no reason it would not be as fast as the best gaming mouse, which is better than most touch screen technologies.

Look at Pixelsense and the original surface, it is all imaging technology on a far bigger scale with a lot more complexity.

Come one.. these things are called lightpens and are ancient.. Just rehashing old tech in a modern form. Used to use these back on my C64 and Amiga so what's new..

paulheu said,
Come one.. these things are called lightpens and are ancient.. Just rehashing old tech in a modern form. Used to use these back on my C64 and Amiga so what's new..

Most light pens don't work with LCD screens, only CRT. I think somebody did develop one for a LCD screen a few years back. A light pen that works on any LCD screen would be something new.

The fact that there are people who sneer at this project shows just how out of touch and short-sighted so many self-proclaimed tech enthusiasts are.

Developing stylus technology like this isn't just about building a new kind of stylus--it advances sensor technology and could lead to other devices and UXes that nobody's thought of yet. That's the point behind research, and why all of these projects should be looked at intelligently and appreciatively.

There's so much of an obsession in communities like this with some arbitrary requirement that all technological research be directly and immediately geared toward broadly-marketable consumer devices. And that's not just idiotic--it's a shame, because almost all consumer electronics are built on technologies that were developed and refined in niche markets or just plain labs, back when everyone was calling them vaporware as snidely as possible for upvotes and warm, fuzzy feelings.

Look at WHAT'S being developed to make this device possible. Ask yourself what ELSE those developments can be applied to. Otherwise your opinions sound stupid and you get to be one of those people who makes only two kinds of posts:

1) Stupid opinions
2) Telling people who call your opinions stupid that it's a free country and you're entitled to your opinion.

And those will pretty much sum up your internet persona.

Joshie said,
The fact that there are people who sneer at this project shows just how out of touch and short-sighted so many self-proclaimed tech enthusiasts are.

Developing stylus technology like this isn't just about building a new kind of stylus--it advances sensor technology and could lead to other devices and UXes that nobody's thought of yet. That's the point behind research, and why all of these projects should be looked at intelligently and appreciatively.

There's so much of an obsession in communities like this with some arbitrary requirement that all technological research be directly and immediately geared toward broadly-marketable consumer devices. And that's not just idiotic--it's a shame, because almost all consumer electronics are built on technologies that were developed and refined in niche markets or just plain labs, back when everyone was calling them vaporware as snidely as possible for upvotes and warm, fuzzy feelings.

Look at WHAT'S being developed to make this device possible. Ask yourself what ELSE those developments can be applied to. Otherwise your opinions sound stupid and you get to be one of those people who makes only two kinds of posts:

1) Stupid opinions
2) Telling people who call your opinions stupid that it's a free country and you're entitled to your opinion.

And those will pretty much sum up your internet persona.

Really agree with this statement, and such a breath of fresh air! Many of the comments on this forum do not exhibit forward-thinking.

Joshie said,
The fact that there are people who sneer at this project shows just how out of touch and short-sighted so many self-proclaimed tech enthusiasts are.

Developing stylus technology like this isn't just about building a new kind of stylus--it advances sensor technology and could lead to other devices and UXes that nobody's thought of yet. That's the point behind research, and why all of these projects should be looked at intelligently and appreciatively.

There's so much of an obsession in communities like this with some arbitrary requirement that all technological research be directly and immediately geared toward broadly-marketable consumer devices. And that's not just idiotic--it's a shame, because almost all consumer electronics are built on technologies that were developed and refined in niche markets or just plain labs, back when everyone was calling them vaporware as snidely as possible for upvotes and warm, fuzzy feelings.

Look at WHAT'S being developed to make this device possible. Ask yourself what ELSE those developments can be applied to. Otherwise your opinions sound stupid and you get to be one of those people who makes only two kinds of posts:

1) Stupid opinions
2) Telling people who call your opinions stupid that it's a free country and you're entitled to your opinion.

And those will pretty much sum up your internet persona.

Exactly - who could have predicted microwave ovens? Alternating current? The laser? The first two were - literally - the equivalent of *Britney Spears* (as in "Oooops - I did it again") discoveries, while the last was an extension of a communications project.

With the patents hold by Wacom, I find it hard for a company to come up with any decent stylus without having to pay royalties to Wacom. I am curious to see what Microsoft is up to.

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