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WaCom Stylus For iPad

Discussion in 'iPad Accessories' started by dissdnt, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. macrumors 65816


    Is anyone working on a WaCom style stylus for the iPad? I was thinking if Adobe sold a full fledge Photoshop with a stylus you can buy would be awesome.
  2. macrumors 6502

    It would be great. Apparently a Bluetooth stylus is possible, but there's nothing on the market yet.

    Otherwise there's the low-tech but effective Pogo.
  3. macrumors 6502


    I am not sure you can do much more with pogo that you cannot do with you own finger ;)
    I am in the market for a fine tipped stylus that will work like a pen on the iPad and the fact that there isn't one already makes me think it is not possible with the current iPad hardware?
  4. macrumors 6502

    I don't think it'd do pressure sensing unless you could tap it into the bluetooth or wifi. Maybe an iPad dock connector dongle?
  5. macrumors 6502a

    I am, but running into some technical issues.
  6. macrumors 6502a

    I want the same thing, and have searched around and haven't found anything. All the stylus I see have a more rounded tip for some reason, like the pogo. I think it might be something to do with the hardware capability, but I'm not familiar with exactly how the touchscreen works and interacts with the ipad or iphone to know for sure.

    I'm thinking of testing it out by finding a material that will conduct electricity and has a fine point, so that when I hold it, it will work on the touch screen. Anyone have any suggestions on something I could use to test a fine point on the screen?
  7. macrumors 601



    The reason they are all "fat" tips is because the iPhone screen/software is looking for fingers, which aren't fine little points. It'll ignore small touches from fine pointed tips, thinking they are accidental bumps with other parts of your hand.

    Making a fine tipped stylus, even if the device recognized it, isn't going to give you a fine line or anything anyways. The software will just pick the center of your touch location and draw whatever thickness line it wants. ALl a finer point would do is obstruct less of the screen (which has its merits, I admit).

    Obviously I don't know what approach you are taking, or what problems you are having, but I immediately had this same idea when I saw the iPad. My thought was a "standard" capacitive stylus like the Pogo Sketch with a pressure sensor under the foam pad. Take the reading from the sensor and map it to a standard BT keyboard control module, which each level of sensitivity correlated to a different key/character.

    With a keyboard sporting over 100 keys, plus various modifiers (shift, control, etc) you should be able to support several hundred levels of pressure, possibly into the 512 levels range that some of the low to mid-level drawing tablets offer. If the software is then just "listening" for keyboard "presses" and using that data in combination with the standard touch interface, you should be golden. That was just my theory, and based on the fact that the iPad supports BT keyboards out of the box, it seemed to make sense. :)
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Interesting. Do you think a program could by-pass the normal interface and register the small touches instead of ignoring them?

    If it could, all I would want is for the program to give me the option of what size line I had and I could match it up to the size of my fine pointed stylus.
  9. macrumors 601


    No. The touch interface is driven at an OS level, though I suppose apps for jailbroken devices might have access to raw sensor data.

    You won't get control of line thickness from a "cone shaped" point sponge-stylus. You need to either have something that detects the pressure of your push in the stylus and sends that info to the iPad via BT or control the thickness via software (line a slider or whatever).

    Honestly, I expect some manufacturer to do something similar to what I described in my earlier post sooner rather than later.
  10. macrumors 68000


    Aren't Wacom digitizers/styli using a completely different technology than Apple touch devices?

    I keep kind of bringing this up every time one of these threads starts, and no one really answers.

    I feel like if the capacitive touchscreens were able to do really precise control (like a Wacom digitizer/stylus) we would have already seen something less blunt than the Pogos for the iphone.
  11. macrumors 601


    Yes, they are completely different types of tech. When I see someone ask about "Wacom-style stylus" I just assume they mean pressure sensitive. The iPhone, and presumably the iPad, have very accurate capacitive touchscreens which solves half the problem, pressure sensitivity would require some additional technology in the stylus though.
  12. macrumors 68000


    What do you think the reason is that no one has mass-produced a finer stylus yet? I mean, there are a lot of sketchbook iPhone apps, right?
  13. macrumors 65816


    The Pogo really isn't that bad. I bought one as an experiment and was please with how well it worked with apps such as iSketch. It's a huge improvement over trying to draw with your finger.

    It's not pressure sensitive, but the thickness of lines can be adjusted in iSketch. I imagine it'd make a passable solution for drawing on in iPad.
  14. macrumors 601


    Most importantly is the iPhone supports a very limited BT profile. Headphones, mics... anything else? The iPad supports, at least, BT keyboards out of the box. That will help development.

    Also, limited market for what will be an expensive accessory. Count on $49+ for something like I described - someone may have thought of a better way to do it, but I don't think there is a CHEAPER way. Would you pay $50 for a pressure sensitive stylus for your iPhone? A couple people probably would, but not many would find it valuable, so it's not practical to make.

    The iPad, though, is big enough to be a serious drawing surface, not just a little doodle pad. If the touch screen is accurate enough I suspect we'll see people using it that way, and someone will fill the pressure sensitive stylus need for them.

    This is all just my baseless speculation, so take it for what it's worth.
  15. macrumors regular


    Another solution that may allow us to sidestep the bluetooth option altogether is to use information from capacitive pressure. When you press down with a finger or Pogo, you make contact with a larger area of the screen than you would if you were only touching it lightly. This information could be used to emulate pressure sensitivity. It is possible, as it was done by Ten One Design with the Macbook trackpad which is also capacitative. The thing is, apparently Apple is not allowing developers to make use of this data.

    Ten One Design:
  16. macrumors 601


    I was thinking about that as well... the touch interface is OS driven, so it would require Apple to give more access to the raw sensor data (as I mentioned in an earlier post), but I wonder just how much sensitivity you could achieve this way. I mean, it would be based on how large the contact area was, so assuming they made the tip more cone shaped so it could have a finer point and then get smooshed down to a blunt one, how accurate could it detect? (Not asking you, just hypothetical pondering).

    If they could get even 8 levels of distinct pressure sensitivity reliably it would be a good compromise for average users (assuming they kept the $15 price point) who want a better sketching tool, but aren't serious digital artists. For those people, I suspect that a BT based stylus would offer a greater range of pressure detection and would be worth the money.

    Good information in your post though... hopefully Apple listens and offers an API for raw touchscreen sensor data.
  17. macrumors regular


    I agree that a BT pen would probably be able to give more pressure information than capacitance could. And to be sure, I would pay for it. :D And with a bluetooth pen maybe it might be possible to implement more than pressure sensitivity; maybe tilt, rotation and bearing. Or maybe I'm getting ahead way of myself. :p

    PCClone: Make sure to update us on your progress!
  18. macrumors member


    Wacom iPad

    As a graphic designer, I have to say I'm very interested in an App that could work in conjunction with a Stylus type pen for sketching/drawing.

    All those working on such a device - keep up the good work. :D Wacom included.
  19. macrumors 6502

    What Ten One says about this

    I mailed Ten One about a sharper / Bluetooth stylus a few days ago and here's their response:

    Thanks for writing. I'm glad the Sketch is working out for you. At this point, we are limited by what touch screens can do. Apple's are set to recognize input from fingers, so a stylus must be roughly the size of a fingertip. It's certainly an area undergoing much development, and we hope to work with display-makers to create a stylus with a finer point.

    As for pressure sensitivity, Apple does not currently allow developers direct access to the multitouch hardware on the iPad, iPh and iPt, so the Sketch is unable to utilize this feature. Pressure sensitivity is something that would have to come from the App, not the stylus.

  20. macrumors 68000



    Ah, that explains why they're all so blunt.
  21. macrumors regular


    ... I guess we're not seeing a pressure sensitive bluetooth stylus from them, then. Although I don't think they're understanding the idea of a bluetooth stylus. The pressure sensitivity DOESN'T require direct access to the multitouch hardware. If the stylus itself measures pressure, then it can send that information to apps that can use it. It seems kind of like a, "DUH." :rolleyes: Although, I'm not a dev so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

    They keep saying on their site that they have something coming for the iPad. I thought they would unveil it when the iPad became available. Nope. They need to just come out with it already, because they're in for a wave of disappointment if they come out with something stupid like an iPad case that holds a Pogo stylus. Who knows, maybe they're waiting for OS 4.0.
  22. macrumors newbie


    I've been doing a lot of research on this and did some experimentation after viewing the various "Do it yourself" stylus videos on YouTube.

    The touchscreen on the iPhone/iPad works by sensing electrical impulses from your finger. If you were to take a piece of plastic and attempt to use it as a stylus, it wouldn't work because there is no electrical impulse.

    However, metal does work because it is conducting electricity from your hand. If you take a pencil and completely wrap it in aluminum foil using the eraser end as a stylus, it works. I also tried the blunt end of a metal Xacto knife and that worked. Both of these were crude.

    I don't have a Pogo Stylus yet but am willing to bet it's a thin metal tube with a tip consisting of a foam-like material that is able to conduct electricity.

    It's probably true that the sensing technology in the screen itself is not accurate enough to sense a thin stylus, and it is highly probable that it can't recognize pressure sensitivity.

    Seeing how revolutionary the iPad could be for artists, I would hope that Apple and third party developers are already working on a way to get an advanced stylus working via Bluetooth. You may not be able to solve the size problem but the pressure of the pen could be handled via software.
  23. macrumors regular


    Steve Jobs has been pretty anti-stylus since the Newton flop, so I wouldn't hold my breath for Apple to provide anything of the sort. Nor would I expect Wacom to step up; that company is notorious for lack of innovation in its products.

    Ten One Design (the makers of the Pogo) have already created a desktop app that recognizes capacitive pressure, it's called Inklet. But since Apple won't let developers access raw touchscreen information, a similar app for iPad is impossible for now. It looks like a bluetooth pen is the only hope.
  24. macrumors regular

    I think Job's anti-stylus stance was aimed at primary input, which I'd agree with him on. 95% of the time a finger is accurate enough, and more convenient.

    It's pretty clear that if iPad is going to have a life as a Wacom alternative, then a stylus will be needed and Apple is going to have to open up the APIs necessary to make it happen, and I can't imagine any reason they wouldn't. Apple has been slowly opening up the hardware to developers; things were pretty locked down for 2.0, and 3.0 opened things up significantly [Camera, Dock connector]. With the OS 4.0 preview tomorrow, lets hope that they announce some extended Bluetooth and screen APIs to make a more functional stylus a reality.
  25. macrumors member

    This is as close as you can get to a stylus right now.


    I got it to draw on my iPhone 3G, but it's probably better on an iPad screen.

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