While touch screen slates were all the rage last year, 2011 may well be the year of the pen. N-Trig, the touchscreen digitizer company that powers many of the world's leading convertible notebooks and slates (including the HP Slate 500), recently released a demo of its DuoSense Digital Pencil being be used by an artist to complete a complex drawing on the Fujitsu Lifebook T580 10-inch notebook.
"Everybody bows to the iPad, but when they really look at what the iPad can do, it's media consumption only," N-Trig VP of Marketing Gary Baum told us. Baum pointed out that, as tablet vendors develop their second-generation Android slates, they are targeting more business and education users. For those users to be productive, they need pen input.
Today, there are three main technologies being used for pen on slates and convertible notebooks. Old-school pressure pen digitizers such as that used on the ASUS Eee Note EA800 provide strong , accurate stylus recognition but don't allow for finger input at all. Regular capacitive touch screens like the one on the iPhone are built for finger gestures so capacitive stylus accessories do little more than emulate the large imprint of your finger; they do not allow for fine drawing or handwriting. Finally, capacitive + pen technologies such as the DuoSense provide the best of both worlds by pairing a finger-friendly capacitive screen with an active pen that contains its own chips and send its location and pressure information to the screen.
In N-Trig's video demo an artist is able to draw a complex image with lines of varying thickness. "You can't do that with your finger, you can't do that with a capacitive pen, the only way you can do that is with a pen that has pressure," Baum said.
N-Trig is not the only manufacturer to offer a capacitive + pen solution, but its DuoSense uses a single digitizer rather than having a panel with two layers. According to Baum, this single layer design uses less power and is unique in the industry. "We can do pen and touch, all on the same digitizer," Baum said. "We're the only ones that do that."
Though DuoSense technology has been around for sometime now, the latest version of the technology (3.5) allows for greater accuracy and than ever before. Check out the device in action in N-Trig's demo video below.