Macktion at CES 2015 Article 1: N-trig


DF News Team
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May 16, 2012
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Not all of the fun parts of CES happen on the showroom floor. Very often, the appointments take us into the hospitality suites, and we get to see a different side of the show. Products that are about ready to launch, and some that are still years away from implementation (often with an NDA attached).

That was the case with N-Trig. Perhaps you recall that their pens are paired with the Surface Pro 3 (a role it took away from Wacom which was in the Surface 2). And as you learn about the advantages that their pens have, its easy to see why.

When the Tablet Form-factor was still in its infancy, there was a debate between resistive and capacitive. Should we use styluses or our fingers? As we know, we opted for our fingers, but for quite some time, that meant no styluses. No convenient way to draw. As time went by, we started to emulate our own fingers with capacitive styli. But the precision was just not there.

Eventually, active digitizers (a technology that had not been a part of the tablet world since the convertible tablets that I used to use in undergrad) had figured out their design issues sufficiently to be implemented in Tablets.
Still though, things like extra layers for sensing, requiring large bezels for the sensors to be housed, and so on, have made these tough to implement.

Addressing these concerns seemed to be the chief components of N-trig's design. smaller layers, for decreased parallax, and therefore greater precision with your pen. More sensors for better interpretation of your movements. And significantly better refresh rates. The precision is very close to pen on paper. It is probably one of the first to really feel like it could replace pen and paper, or even pencil on paper. One of our group was an Artist, mostly dealing in Graphite and Airbrushing, and she was quite impressed with the art applications.

What I can say is that N-Trig has a LOT of things going for it, and while I just don't have enough video to make a cogent presentation, I have to admit that I was rather impressed with the precision: What would have appeared as a smooth line under most drawing programs and capacitive styli was a very fine, and very subtly dimpled line. And I must stress that I was almost shocked with how much useful information the stylus was able to display. I believe the number that was thrown around is that it interprets 3 thousand points of data per second about your stroke to make the most accurate registration of your line.
So far N-trig has won over several industry giants, and it looks like some of the future design choices will keep the momentum going well into 2015. Keep your eyes open for things such as replaceable tips with variable hardness (coming very soon) as well as message redacted a very short while after that. Its going to be a fun year.

*Please don't be concerned, the "message redacted" was just a little joke.*