Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) actually exists??

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by thatcomicsguy, Aug 30, 2020.

  1. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    I remember being pretty excited about the USI project back in... gawd, 2015, a time when there wasn't much available in the Tablet PC world beyond Wacom licensed equipment.

    A standard pen which would work on any touch screen? It seemed like an exciting idea. Many investors and collaborators joined the quest for a universal digital pen standard. And then...

    Nothing.

    Frankly, I thought it was dead. -Especially when Microsoft dumped Wacom and launched its own pen technology. And Wacom AES came out and didn't work very well. And Apple's version did work well, but only on their portable iOS (sans Photoshop and ClipStudio Paint).

    The promise of a universal pen which could work on any participating manufacturer's touch screen just seemed like a brilliant idea which had, with no fanfare at all, died on the vine.

    Well.., blow me down, but five years later, it seems that the initiative is back. It never fully went away and products are incoming for Chrome Books:

     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2020
  2. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Strange that the market for drawing/painting based artists where the future may lay is ChromeOS.

    If the accuracy and line quality is really good (he doesn't do a slow line test for jitter) you wonder why and how long Microsoft would keep putting jittery Ntrig into expensive Surface laptops and studios. Apple don't seem interested in adding sylus support to Macs and even then you'd have to sell a child to buy such an ARM iMac with a 21inch iPad screen.

    This could be good, in the same way that Android phones eventually outsold iPhones, hopefully cheaper (and accurate / reliable) USI screen chromebooks will be there for artists working on a budget.
     
  3. crazycat

    crazycat Scribbler - Standard Member

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    Let's add "any touchscreen that is USI certified" at the end. At this point, "USI" is just another kind of pen digitizer like "Wacom AES", "Ntrig" or "Wacom EMR". The only difference is it's much less known (and probably less expensive) than the others. Still it's not being widely adopted so it can't actually get to be a standard (USI might be cheaper but still cost more than not adding pen support at all). As long as touchscreen manufacturer are not treating pen support as an universal standard feature, USI will not float.

    From what I observed, pen quality on tablet PC is Wacom EMR= Apple Pencil > Wacom AES > Ntrig > USI. USI mainly use panel from Goodix and some lesser known brands which is in the bottom of the barrel. My previous experience with Goodix hasn't been pretty.

    As for Chromebook, I have seen many Chromebook by Samsung and other brand with Wacom EMR recently. In fact there is more EMR device in Chromebook than Windows tablet coming out recently ( if we skip all the "professional" 3000$+ devices). Some devices actually have spec that can run Windows easily but with either locked bootloader or Windows incompatible BIOS. Mean while there is hardly any EMR Windows device that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.
     
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  4. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yeah, the quality of the drawing experience is the question.

    I just posted the item because I was frankly surprised to see that USI was still around after all this time.

    Back in the year when it was announced, USI offered the promise of water in a dry landscape. Today, there are so many options as to render it, not entirely irrelevant, but far less compelling.

    Still, good luck to them, I say! I'd love to try one out. But like you point out, with Wacom EMR already widely available in the Chrome ecosystem, one must wonder at the move. (My guess is that it offers a cheaper manufacturing alternative to a Wacom license and removes the question of future availability for their platform. -The same reasons, presumably, that Microsoft developed their own pen even at the detriment of product quality.)
     
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  5. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    If you look at the Acer Spin 13 thread, one guy was talking about last year's EMR chromebook with Windows installed over it. This year's device has AES but the same trick can be done to the Acer Spin 11 too - that's still EMR.

    My suspicion is even the Wacom EMR equipped chromebook devices will work with USI.
     
  6. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    [​IMG]
     
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  7. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    USI pens are projected capacitive type like AES, MPP and Apple Pencil. No way they will work on EMR digitizer boards.
     
  8. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    One good thing the EU did was force phone makers "voluntarily" to go from 30+different methods of charging down to 3. This year, they are going to take on Apple or they won't be allowed to sell Apple phones across Europe if they don't agree the single charger standard.

    I know the name Goodix is a poor example for digitisers in the USI sphere but we're talking about an eventual huge market of chromebooks for education and beyond - laptop makers will want to sell, digitiser manufacturers will want their products in those laptops and "Waltop" - the company who makes the stylus in the video aren't going to just make pens. In 2017, half of all laptops shipped into schools were chromebooks and that proportion has grown - the future users are being brought up on Google powered devices across the US and Europe.

    Ah, I'm not electrical engineer enough to argue the case where you couldn't combine or "layer" the technology but it was a thought - when Wacom / Synaptics / Intel / Atmel etc agreed the USI standard I couldn't see the sense in education oriented EMR chrome devices becoming obsolete bricks when USI pens finally started coming out.
     
  9. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    The only thing USI has going for it is low cost due to lack of licensing fees. Right now, it's the choice for OEMs that wants to go even lower cost than low end MPP digitizers. So you see them a mostly in 3rd party Chromebooks where cost is very sensitive.

    For Lenovo currently for example, the digitizer hierarchy goes like this from most expensive to cheapest:

    - High end to mid range (Thinkpads and Ideapad Yogas ~ $1000 average): Wacom AES
    - Lower mid range: (WoA yoga 2 in 1 C640 ~ $600): MPP
    - Low end (Chromebook Duet ~ $300): USI
     
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