While modern smartphones can be operated by touch only, styluses certainly have not disappeared. An accurate stylus is actually a must when high precision is required. California-based company Atmel has unveiled a new addition to its touch interface solutions in the form of the maXStylus active stylus for Android 4.0 and Windows 8. It features a 1mm stylus tip, and simultaneous finger and stylus operation.

With maXStylus, users can easily perform touch gestures (e.g. pinch to zoom) with one hand, while writing or drawing with the stylus held in the other hand. This is possible due to multiSense functionality via a single indium tin oxide (ITO) sensor. Basically, it's one sensor detecting both finger and stylus touches, instead of the two sensors that would be required by today's traditional solutions.

Graphic and web designers will certainly benefit from a precise stylus, especially given the recent introduction of Adobe Touch Apps for tablets. maXStylus can also be used to enter equations (generally difficult to type), make handwriting notes, or enter Asian characters.

Other features of the maXStylus technology include:

  • palm rejection - users can comfortably rest their palms on the screen when using the stylus without erroneous touches
  • 1 mm tip diameter and accuracy of +/- 0.25 mm imitate the precision of a real pen tip
  • 140Hz frame rate - accurate writing recognition and capturing of fast gestures (e.g. taps, double taps)
  • high resolution allows users to work with small fonts, write Asian characters, capture minute movements of the stylus
  • pressure sensing with 256 pressure levels improves handwriting and drawing
  • single ITO sensor simplifies system design and lowers its total cost
  • handsets and tablets supported - cross-platform compatibility of the stylus is achievable

According to Atmel, maXStylus and accompanying technologies are compatible with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and the upcoming Windows 8. Samples of maXStylus are currently being sent to company's partners, while first implementations of the touch/stylus input system are expected to appear by early 2012.

See Atmel's video below presenting the maXStylus in action: