It’s been a bit since we last talked about Chromebooks and the addition of stylus inputs. You can read here about what we found back this summer in regards to ‘Kevin’ having a confirmed stylus input.
It looks like other boards/devices will be getting in on the stylus action as new types of Wacom syluses/digitizers are being added in the Chromium repositories.
While there are no specific devices being referenced in this commit, we can see that Wacom’s secondary stylus-optimized screen is being added to the Wacom firmware for Chrome OS.
A quick bit of searching quickly shows that Wacom’s older tech for stylus input is EMR (electromagnetic resonance). It has worked very well for Wacom for many years. EMR has a few inherent flaws; one being a bit of stagnation as they own the majority of the world’s marketshare. Secondly, the technology has inherent issues with the edges of the screen and supporting larger screen sizes.
It’s upside is a big one, though: no need for a powered stylus.
N-trig, by contrast, uses AES (active electrostatic solution) and is utilized in devices like the Surface Pro 3. AES, by contrast, is much more accurate on screen from edge to edge and requires an active, or powered, stylus.
An active stylus is powered by a battery and tends to be larger than a passive stylus, making storage a bit of an issue.
It seems Wacom has taken note of N-trig’s successes and now has a competing technology using AES as well. This is what we are seeing added to the Wacom firmware for Chrome OS.
We tend to assume ‘Kevin’ will include EMR tech as we have clearly seen evidence that the pen will be stowable in the device itself. Powered styli aren’t exactly easy to put into a thin device.
So, with Kevin firmly in the EMR corner, we have to wonder what devices will be using the AES standard instead. At this point, we don’t really know, but you can bet we have our eye on this.
Regardless, it is exciting to see more devices slated to come with broad and differing stylus inputs. We have to assume that an upcoming update to Chrome OS will include these stylus input updates and we can only speculate as to how this input type will be used down the road with Chrome OS.