Apple Paintbrush? ...and the evolution of digitizer tech

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Marty, Apr 26, 2019.

  1. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    A few of you may remember when I lamented that interesting directions in pen digitizer tech, like pen haptics, were being left totally unexplored by the tablet industry.

    Well Apple just came out with an interesting patent for digital brush input:

    (Tablet-News)
    [​IMG]

    This is on a whole new level compared previous attempts, like the Sensu Brush (which was surprisingly well received, as people found the physical feel of brush hairs more natural than hard nibs) because it uses active signaling to the digitizer:

    "...with flexible contact members. Each of them is able to independently flex relative to the other members and generate a special touch sensitivity-based feedback response, based on a change of flexure in the contact members."

    So once again, I find myself perplexed as to why established players in the industry are leaving so many interesting modes of digital input simply unexplored and stagnant, while a relatively new entrant like Apple, is the only one who seems interested in pushing the technology forward.

    In particular for Wacom, who has long-marketed their hardware for artists, not once in decades has branched out from the basic design of its EMR pens. And Microsoft, even after adding a custom digitizer controller and low-level API, still somehow falls short of the 1st-gen Apple Pencil in AES performance.

    At the rate things are looking, will Apple truly be savior of pen computing? I'm bewildered and yet...somewhat hopeful. :) (though dreading that soul-sucking switch to iOS, if this is right)
     
  2. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    The rather innocuous drawing reminds me very much of the simple patent they took out for a stylus in 2011 (which became Apple Pencil) at the time Steve Jobs refusal to have a stylus ruled policy.

    This article reflects my thinking at the time when the author says

    I thought then "interesting but nothing will come of it...."

    Because as an innovative digital interface company, you get lazy when Artists have spent the last 20 years rubbishing anything that is not Wacom. As a technology company, you get lazy when you are pretty much certain your audience is unwilling to accept any alternatives and when they do come out - you hear the universal "ah, but you can't make professional art with it" or "ah but it doesn't feel like a Wacom."

    For me, I will say "interesting but nothing will come of it...." hoping to be proven badly wrong again. One of my last remaining doubts about jumping fully into Apple is understanding the mechanics of how iOS runs 6GB Ram maximum but can open 4K video or whether opening (in future) a huge Photoshop file on a 4GB machine means something is being lost somewhere or not.
     
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  3. Marty

    Marty Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Nice link! Very impressive that it was only a 4-year gap between that patent and the release of the IPP in 2015.

    Compare that with Wacom's patent filings which seems to be an exercise in how many different ways you can describe the same invention. :p

    I'm very impressed at how Apple, in such a short period, has galvanized the tablet art industry, rapidly iterating Pencil/IPP, and pushing software developers to re-invent their applications for smooth, unhindered workflows.

    If this momentum continues, I see the Paintbrush as definitely more than just a pipe dream. :thumbsup:
     
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  4. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Having just looked at a wide variety of commercial alternatives to the Sensu Brush that are right now available on Amazon, I can see that Apple may take the step of developing a true pressure sensitive version simply because market demand is there.

    It's probably also a combination of the market for a brush stylus being established and Apple liking to be in as much control of the peripherals you connect to your iPad.
    My suspicion is that PC peripherals would soon start to appear if Apple begins to recapture the creative artist market - I don't mean the area of the hyper-realistic concept art market where the belief "only Wacom tools can create art" but painters, cartoonists, magazine and newspaper illustrators etc etc. My other suspicion is that if Adobe (remember Adobe software still starts up faster and works slightly better on Macs) were to support this new tool in the upcoming iPad version - we would rapidly see an Apple paintbrush on the market.
    My reading of that goes back to the long relationship between Adobe and Apple - which was expressed publicly when Adobe were so upset that Apple were killing off Flash Player support on Apple devices.
     
  5. YVerloc

    YVerloc Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Anyone remember the prototype/concept brush that was shown many years ago that had fibre-optic bristles? The brush had ‘color sampling’ option that would use the bristles as a fiver-bundle camera and make a coloured brush image from the samples. You could sample from real world surfaces or from the screen.
     
  6. YVerloc

    YVerloc Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Found it. It was called I/O brush. Looks like it was a hollow circle of bristles with a camera in the middle, not fibre optic bristles like I thought.

    Typical university tech though. “well, i’ve got my PhD now so goodluckeveryonebyeeeeeeeeeee....”
     
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  7. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I do, we had a talk and video demonstration at my old University.
    It reminded me of the clone stamp tool in Photoshop but if you look at the video - the "stylus" or shaving brush actually seems to have barrel rotation and it works in the video. This won't be popular around here but the barrel rotation looked like it worked properly (even 15 years later rotating the stylus has no impact in a lot of tools)

    I've actually seen a lot of these types of demonstrations when at Uni - a lot of them (I wish) should have reached the market but some companies buy tech (patents) and just sit on them.
     
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