Many of the latest trends in computing interaction have been ripped straight from the pages of science fiction. Our devices are offering voice-driven conversations with agents that ask follow-ups and gestures that allow us to manipulate mixed-reality objects without having to touch a surface. However, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 and the release of Windows 10 Anniversary Edition have again brought to the fore an input method that has little association with Captain Kirk or Minority Report hero John Anderton–the pen. Stylus-based interfaces were among the earliest ways to control smartphones and, even earlier, handhelds such as the PalmPilot and Apple Newton. Twenty years later, we’re experiencing a “pennaisance.” The tiny disposable plastic sticks of yesteryear have given way to more sophisticated and expensive pressure-sensitive, erasure-capable, button-equipped instruments that need to draw power (proximally in the case of Samsung’s S Pen). More Powerful, Not Yet Prevalent While the digital pen’s functionality and responsiveness has improved dramatically, it hasn’t been able to catch up to touch as a primary interface. Despite a smattering of control options that Microsoft and Samsung offer once the instrument is in hand, the pen has settled into a range of use cases that fall primarily into three… Read full this story
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