A number of prominent device and electronics makers have banded together to launch the Universal Stylus Initiative (USI). This new organisation will start by developing a standard specification for an active stylus and then seek to promote it industry-wide. Big technology players including Intel, Lenovo and Wacom are already backing the initiative.
Over the years if you have owned a more than a single stylus packing device/gadget, especially from different vendors, you might have been disappointed that you couldn't just use your favourite styli across devices. My daughter lost her HP convertible's Wacom designed stylus in the first week of ownership. We were disappointed that it wouldn't work with either of the two spare Wacom styli I had in my drawer, and we had to mail order a replacement from HP in the USA.
It would be great if you could use any active stylus with a wide range of supported hardware but there are so many competing standards and technologies around now. This is where the USI 1.0 specification hopes to help, going forward. "The USI 1.0 specification provides for a stylus capable of communicating with different touch sensors and touch controller integrated circuits". With the new standard in place users should gain a consistent experience across devices, with up to 2048 different levels of pressure available from screen to screen. Just think if your smartphone, tablet, computer and graphics tablet used the same stylus tech… Then you'd only have to worry about the stylus silo size.
Founding members of the USI include plenty of industry heavyweights; Atmel Corporation; Hanvon Pentech Co., Ltd.; Intel Corporation; Lenovo Inc.; Sharp Corporation; Synaptics Inc.; Wacom Co., Ltd.; and Waltop International Corp. at the Promoter level; and eGalax_eMPIA Technology Inc. (EETI); Elan Microelectronics Corporation; Focal Tech Electronics, Ltd.; and Dell Global B.V. at the Contributor level. Conspicuous by their absence are the likes of Microsoft, Samsung and Apple. I note that the USI web page graphics appear to show a Samsung S Pen in action.
Pondering the USI initiative Jon Peddie Research said that such a standard is "sorely" needed and that the standard could bring cost reductions in deploying styli resulting in more OEMs choosing to equip one with their devices. JPR went on to estimate that active stylus adoption would grow from 100 million units in 2015 to 300 million units in 2018 thanks to the USI.