The Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) – to date – is the only open standard active stylus solution available for Chromebooks that allows a single stylus to be used on multiple touch-enabled devices. We have seen this technology emerge from humble beginnings, where pens needed a AAAA alkaline batteries and had side buttons to more modern versions like the Penoval USI702 which charges via usb-c port and includes a tail eraser. Also, let’s not forget that Ufro pen that picks colors from real-world objects and lets you use them digitally.
Today, the Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) marked a new milestone by unveiling the 2.0 version of their popular stylus specification. Version 2.0 brings several new features that Chromebook stylus manufacturers can opt to include in their devices, such as:
- NFC wireless charging capability
- Support for in-cell display panels
- Expanded tilt functionality
- Upgraded color pallet from 256 to over 16 million colors
The NFC wireless charging feature is based on the Near Field Communication (NFC) Wireless Charging Specification (WLC 2.0) which allows charging of low-power devices at a power transfer rate of up to one watt by enabling a single antenna to manage both communications and charging. Meanwhile, the in-cell touch sensors promise to “greatly expand the types and number of products USI 2.0 can be used with.” Benny Zhang, General Manager of Lenovo’s Chromebook Business Unit, had this to say of the new development:
It’s a great opportunity to work with USI and Google on the latest USI 2.0 protocol for a new Lenovo pen. It’s a feature Lenovo Chromebook users always tell us they love, and we’re excited about the new benefits it will bring them.
Those who have an artistic side should be very excited to hear that the new specification also expanded the existing tilt functionality and upgraded the color pallet from 256 to over 16 million colors, creating what USI promises will be “one of the most natural, true to life inking experiences available“.
It will be interesting to see the new styluses that hit the market next. This new version is sure to raise the bar and produce pens that will deliver a consistent and improved Chromebook writing and drawing experience. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled and report any new developments on this front.