Android: A barren wasteland for pressure sensitive pen hardware and apps...

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by Shogmaster, Apr 2, 2016.

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  1. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Technically, all Wacom EMR pen can detect tilt. It's a hack, really. There is no dedicated sensor to detect tilt as with the Apple Pencil. You can basically determine tilt by measuring offset of the resonance coil in the pen. Wacom exposes this in their professional driver for the Intuos Pro and Cintiq lines to the apps. Wacom does not for Penabled/Feel drivers for tablet PCs.

    I guess in Android, that data is somehow exposed to the apps? Interesting revelation to me. Thanks for that.
     
  2. sonichedgehog360

    sonichedgehog360 AKA Hifihedgehog Senior Member

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    A family member just received the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet K1 featuring a rather unique and capable pressure sensitive penabled display and pen solution. Looks can be awfully deceiving: the SHIELD's stylus, the DirectStylus 2, used in tandem with the display is actually no conventional capacitive stylus. Despite my best efforts, the DirectStylus does not work on any other touch displays that I have access to (iPhone 6S, Surface 3, Galaxy S4), with all taps, swipes and strokes going completely undetected no matter how light or hard pressure is applied with it.

    Yet the DirectStylus works without a hitch on the SHIELD Tablet K1's 16:10 1200P display–and gracefully I might add. The tip tracking is fast and smooth allowing for straight, noise-free lines and curves. There is obviously some sort of undocumented or "top secret" technological hardware voodoo going on because the display immediately rejects my palm when the stylus is just inches away. Inexplicably, it also has pressure sensitivity, which, though clearly falling short of N-trig in granularity, is lightyears ahead of the Synaptics stiff ol' digital crayons of death.

    My hunch is the answer to the mystery of the pressure sensitive is in the oddly lobsided tip, perhaps specially designed to carry a resistance which is different enough from a human finger tip to be told apart by the display digitizer hardware. This tip's squishy design may also be custom engineered to dynamically change its resistance as more or less pressure is applied, resulting in thicker or narrower lines. As for the palm rejection, there may be a magnet located in the tip that is being used to signal to the device, via the display digitizer, that it should reject all other conventional capacitive input.

    Suffice it to say, if you are looking for an 8-inch notetaking device, give the NVIDIA SHIELD K1 tablet a serious look. With its zippy performance, clear, very loud stereo speaker system, and mini HDMI and micro SD expansion, the SHIELD is up to the task of most notetakers and amateur dabblers. Add the fact that it is purpose built to handle the grunt of gaming, currently the only 8-inch tablet on the market that is powerful enough to emulate Gamecube games at 60 frames per second, and you have the best combo of pocket-sized productivity and leisure at your fingertips.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  3. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I wasn't aware ArtRage for Android supported tilt on the pencil tool, but that's mainly because the Galaxy Gifts release doesn't do so. You'd think they'd have done so THERE of all places, since it's a freebie for Note 4 owners.

    I didn't feel like paying up the $5 on the Play Store release just to find out, especially seeing as I paid up $25 on Steam for ArtRage 4 some time ago and it's certainly a brush engine that wants a powerful CPU to not lag horrendously. Even then, I hardly touch it compared to Clip Studio Paint for Windows doodling since CSP handles touch navigation better (single-finger panning, for starters) and I'm just more used to its brush engine at this point, coming from a good year or two of SAI usage.

    Okay, now you got me REALLY curious. I had written off their DirectStylus tech as just another take on fat-nibbed capacitive stylus technology with software processing on the tablet side, but I figured that it might be worth a shot since my little bro needs a new tablet. His LG G Pad F7.0 somehow wound up with a busted LCD recently, with the front glass still intact. Dunno how the heck that happened.

    The SHIELD Tablet was the replacement I had considered, partly for the DirectStylus functionality if he wants to doodle (and if that's not enough, he can always fire up the T901 for good old Wacom EMR action), but also because it's a well-supported tablet (has an official Marshmallow update out now, probably has a good amount of custom ROM development too), has a microSD slot (Nexus tablets are a no-go for the lack thereof), and I just know he's gonna be playing loads of games on it. Might as well get him a tablet that doesn't totally suck at gaming performance and also doesn't force-close the bloody SETTINGS MENU on a whim like the G Pad F7 did. (1 GB of RAM on a Lollipop 5.0 device? WTF, LG?)
     
  4. AveSharia

    AveSharia Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I figured it was worth the $5 since I've been painting on my Note5 pretty much every day, and I've never used a device with tilt; but to be honest, I'm not sure what kind of a tilt response I'm looking for. ArtRage doesn't seem to respond at all to tilt- it does "rotate" some brush heads in the direction of your stroke, but that's regardless of how the stylus is tilted.
     
  5. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Going by how ArtRage 4 behaves on Windows, the two brushes most likely to show it are the pencil and the palette knife with "Lock Rotation" checked. Most others just follow the stroke direction if they're flat, including the palette knife if you don't check that box. (Needless to say, I didn't see said checkbox in the Galaxy Gifts-published Android release.)

    If you've seen all those videos of the iPad Pro's Pencil in action, then you'll know more or less what to look for out of ArtRage's pencil tool, different app aside. Should be like a fine point when the pen's near-vertical, but progress into a flatter, less outright opaque brush when tilted noticeably, as if you're shading with the side/flat of the graphite tip of a pencil.

    Clover Paint can set brush direction to tilt, but you can also set other parameters that could be influenced by pressure to tilt as well, like size. It's remarkably flexible like Clip Studio Paint in that regard.
     
  6. AveSharia

    AveSharia Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Yeah, it's not in the paid release either, apparently. At least with the pencil tool I can see the difference, but it is super subtle compared to the Apple Pencil demo! I can't make heads or tails of what the effect is supposed to be with the palette knife.

    Nevertheless, I will be sketching with it for a few days to see if it grows on me.

    That... is definitely a daunting UI lol. Added it to my wish list- $5 is enough for today!
     
  7. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    The palette knife doesn't draw anything by itself. You're supposed to use it in conjunction with the paint tube to spread the paint around. ArtRage actually simulates the volume of paint on the canvas, which may not be immediately apparent since it's a 2D display and all. (This is also probably why it's so CPU-intensive.)

    And yeah, Clover Paint looks intimidating at first, especially because the UI is a tad Engrishy, but trust me when I say that I've seen nothing else on Android with the sheer UI and brush engine versatility of Clover Paint. It's worth the money, and functionally, I'd say it has pretty much everything Paint Tool SAI does and then some, except for vector layers if you like to use those for inking.
     
  8. AveSharia

    AveSharia Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I guess the confusing thing to me is that the palette knife does draw by itself if you increase its loading, but not in any way that I find useful, or resembling the way a palette knife would leave paint on canvas.

    I did stumble upon the paint tube + knife combo when messing around last night; but thank you for the tip nonetheless!
     
  9. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I haven't looked into the API that Clover Paint uses for its pen input, but it's quite telling that the supposed "Cintiq-only" option also works on the Note 4 and 5 without needing any sort of drastic rewrite. That's a good sign.

    Though as for Wacom exposing that value in the driver for the Note 4/5, but NOT every other Penabled/UD board firmware... yeah, I'm calling market segmentation there.

    By the way, I just stumbled upon something important in the CM wiki:
    https://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/w/Doc:_porting_intro
    "The manufacturer or vendor of any device using Android will minimally need to make the source code available for all GPL components upon request, including (and especially) the kernel. You definitely want to request a copy of the kernel source and keep it handy."

    Maybe we CAN get Wacom to divulge their particular kernel source code for the CCH if they don't want any trouble with GPL violations. Even if the pen digitizer and mode switch drivers are binary blobs, it'd be a long shot easier than trying to redo all that from scratch with Tegra 4 kernel sources lifted from any other device.

    Shog, you got any ideas as to who we can poke at Wacom for a CCH kernel source request? This is a critical first step if we're gonna get these things on something newer than Jelly Bean and still have them usable as Cintiq monitors.
     
  10. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    The most technical oriented person that I know at Wacom is Joe Sliger, but his role changed few years ago to more PR role. I don't know if he is even still at Wacom... The rest of my contact list is sales and product design. I can try to reach out to Joe again.
     
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