Microsoft Made a Better Stylus That Knows How You're Holding It

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Intelligent processing and more sensitive capacitive displays have allowed our fingers to replace the stylus that was once required for using a touchscreen—but not completely. Drawing and other artistic apps still benefit from the precision of a stylus, and Microsoft Research has come up with a way to make a digital pen far more useful by making it aware of how you're holding it.

Working alongside other researchers from Cornell University and the University of Manitoba, the improved stylus the team developed was enhanced with a barrel capable of detecting multiple points of touch, and an internal motion sensor that can detect bumps and movements. By itself it's not particular groundbreaking, but with clever software it offers some wonderful functionality.

When painting and drawing on a touchscreen, knowing how the stylus is being held can allow an app to know when exactly to ignore accidental touches from the hand holding the pen. And the stylus can automatically change functionality depending on if it's being held like a pencil, a paintbrush, or even an airbrush. An app can even tell which hand is holding the stylus, and then only accept finger inputs and gestures from the user's other hand, facilitating additional functionality like zooming while they paint or sketch. Hopefully all these superpowers can come to a Surface Pro stylus near you. [Microsoft Research via Engadget]