You rarely see a Microsoft Surface device promoted without a Surface Pen. This is a key feature that the Surface team regularly talks about, and it is a place ripe for change. The latest details show the work continues to make a smarter Pen.
The details come from a patent titled “Stylus for Zero Force Activation”; and details of a system to improve the Surface Pen’s ability to know when to switch to inking mode. Mayank Parmar reported:
“… Microsoft says the stylus still uses a vibrating tip to determine when contact with a surface occurs. The patented Surface Pen also has a capsule designed to minimize shaft movement and the shaft runs parallel to the length of the style.
“The tip has two antennas and one is connected to the shaft using a track made of metal material. There is also a transmitter located at its end and it can see the position of the end of the stylus, and then quickly switch to inking mode. “
Microsoft Surface Vision is always built around different working modes. Imagine Surface Pro 2-in-1s with their removed keyboards that allow for a tablet experience with and without qwerty input. Think of the outstanding Surface Book feature of a laptop with a completely removed screen? Even with the Surface Laptop, with no physical changes you can still switch between pen input and trackpad movements. The surface is about many modes, and switching between them quickly and easily.
This includes the Surface Pen. It has two modes of use. The first is the more traditional stylus-based approach to computing, copying the ideas of a mouse or trackpad in operation. The second mode is inking mode, which can be occupied by your artistic intellect.
Allowing the Surface Pen to better understand when switching modes, to reduce delays in switching modes, and to create a ‘magical’ experience of mixing stylus- and inking-modes, is a natural next steps for Microsoft to address.
As always, a published patent reflects the direction a company takes in hardware development, but it does not guarantee that this technology will be reflected in consumer devices. But some patent heels are more likely to show up than others. This one feels like something we’ll see in the near future.
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