Adonit has stolen my idea again!

…and by “stolen” I mean that they’ve come up with a similar idea completely independently of me.1 Whatever the case I both feel robbed of of the opportunity I was never going to take (cause I lacked the manufacturing, or technical know how in this case), and validated cause my crazy ass idea wasn’t entirely crazy apparently.

My first one was some sort of pivoting head with see through contact patch simulating a finger. The folks at Adonit had the same idea and came up with the original Jot, which I backed on Kickstarter. It worked, albeit not without some issues, with the main one being easily fixable with a little conductive filler in the ball joint. I don’t think they’ve addressed this unfortunately, but that’s in the past now.

The new hotness is thin tips.

(Like every normal pen and real digitizer stylus out there for years and years.)

Why this took so long I have no idea, although I’d guess it was a matter of execution being harder than the idea…assuming it works that way at least. Anyway the basic concept again involves simulating a finger, but using a small electrical field2 instead of physical contact, essentially creating an invisible contact patch. I’m not completely sure Adonit has gone this route but I’m pretty certain cause they say it works with all iOS devices, and implies that it’ll work in any app like any other capacitive stylus.

Interesting thing to me is that they’ve added an accelerometer, which I initially thought was for tilt (which may be possible too), but upon some further thinking along with some other Adonit verbiage about additional accuracy, I think it’s to compensate for the electrical field possibly creating a sphere of active area around the end of the stylus. So holding the stylus perfectly perpendicular to the screen, everything should be accurate, like so:

But as you tilt the stylus, the center of the field’s contact patch will get further and further away from the tip:

Actual field is probably pretty small, this was just big to exaggerate the effect of the possible tilt drift.

I’m thinking their trick to compensate is to keep track of the stylus’ accelerometer data and compare it to the tablet’s accelerometer for a frame of reference, and move the point on screen accordingly.

…granted that far from explains everything, but that’s my simple guess. The issue is that the accelerometer only measures acceleration, with gravity (down) as the main reference point, so it’d only really take care of the vertical angle. Accelerometers are sort of useless for side to side rotation, gyroscopes are what make the magic there. Perhaps it has a gyro and they just ignored mentioning it, who knows. There might be some magic with Bluetooth but that stuff is beyond my knowledge.

But whatever the case, this is just the beginning!

A while back Adobe announced their own stylus (and ruler?!) projects, Mighty and Napoleon. I didn’t give it much thought at the time because while the concept pictures showed a thin tip, the actual hardware they were demoing with had the usual fat tip.

Then they announced that they were going forward with release, and that they were working with Adonit. Which didn’t mean much up until the the stylus above. So I guess Adobe was serious about this:

I prefer “Messiah” but I guess “God” works too.

Main feature this has that the other doesn’t (as far as anyone knows) is pressure sensitivity…I’m hoping tilt as well. And button for a quick menu or something, should be nice compared to the Wacom stylus buttons, which only work in near proximity to the tablet surface. It also has some memory for “cloud” related features that I really don’t give a damn about.

Then there’s this little ruler thing. At first I thought it was pretty ridiculous or stupid, but after watching some demo videos of it in action along with people using virtual rulers and stuff in Sketchbook Pro, it actually seems pretty useful. One annoying thing about drawing on the iPad is the lack of the ability to hover a cursor to accurately place your input consistently, this seems to get around that.

Unfortunately Adobe’s stuff isn’t coming until next year, and since they haven’t actually shown off their thin tip in action who knows how well it’ll actually work. Even the Adonit/Evernote one isn’t shipping until next month, and there’s no video showing it off either.

And it’ll all cost $texas.

  1. Course there’s also been others with similar concepts, if not necessarily the same execution.
  2. This probably isn’t the right term, but it gets the point across I guess.