Microsoft addresses Surface Pen accuracy with latest patent application

Microsoft Press Photo of Surface Pen
Microsoft Image Gallery/Microsoft

Later versions of the Surface Pen could feature an increased accuracy in the doodles and scribbles they produce. According to Windows Latest, Microsoft has filed a patent application that proposes the use of an “active stylus motion vector” to improve the accuracy of its flagship stylus.

The patent application was filed in May 2017 and was published on February 12, 2019. In the application, Microsoft described the usual performance “trade-off” that occurs between accuracy and speed:

“A touch sensor may increase stylus location accuracy by spending more time in a touch frame on sensing stylus location. However, increased scanning durations can reduce update frequency and introduce latency in interactions between the stylus and the touch sensor. This may degrade the user experience by causing apparent delays between stylus inputs and resultant outputs — e.g., display of graphical content on a display device operatively coupled to the touch sensor. On the other hand, while desirable from a speed standpoint, reduced scan duration can diminish location accuracy.”

In essence, if the technology company tried to improve the accuracy of the Surface Pen by giving the touch sensor “more time in a touch frame” to sense the stylus’ location (called scan duration), it might also sacrifice the overall speed of the stylus, resulting in a noticeable lag between the user’s doodled input and when the doodle actually appears on the screen. And if Microsoft chose to decrease the scan duration to avoid that lag, the speed might increase, but the accuracy would decrease.

To address the above trade-off dilemma, the patent application went on to propose the use of an active stylus motion vector. Microsoft explained that this new method would allow the touch sensor to determine a motion vector for the stylus, enabling it to predict the “future location of the stylus.”

And so, since the motion vector would allow the touch sensor to just focus on the predicted movements of the stylus, the touch sensor can still accurately sense Surface Pen’s location without increasing its scan duration time. Basically, Microsoft’s proposed active stylus motion vector method should enhance its stylus’ accuracy without slowing its speed.

While the patent application’s proposed use of the active stylus motion vector isn’t guaranteed for future versions of the Surface Pen, it’s still good to see Microsoft’s research headed in what looks like the right direction for its Surface line of products.

Photography

Sweet 16: Wacom’s Cintiq 16 pen display makes retouching photos a breeze

Wacom’s Cintiq pen displays are usually reserved for the pros (or wealthy enthusiasts), but the new Cintiq 16 brings screen and stylus editing to an approachable price. Does it cut too much to get there?
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Product Review

You won't buy Microsoft's Surface Hub 2S, but it could still change your life

The Microsoft Surface Hub 2S wants to change the way you collaborate at work. That’s a lofty goal most devices fail to achieve, but the unique Hub 2S could be an exception. And trust us – you’re going to want it.
Computing

Former student uses USB Killer device to fry $58,000 worth of college’s PCs

A former student used a USB Killer device to short circuit more than $58,000 of computers at a private New York college earlier this year. The student pled guilty to the charges and sentencing is scheduled to begin in August.
Computing

AMD Ryzen CPU prices get slashed ahead of Ryzen 3000 release

AMD's Ryzen CPUs have had their prices slashed as we edge towards the release of their third generation. Whether you're a gamer or someone who needs multi-threaded performance, there's a deal for everyone with some heavy discounts to take…
Computing

The number pad on HP’s Chromebook 15 makes spreadsheet work a breeze

HP's Chromebook 15 comes with a 15.6-inch display, a metal keyboard deck with full-size keys, and a dedicated number pad, making it the second Chromebook model, following Acer's Chromebook 715, to be suited for spreadsheet work.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.
Computing

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.
Gaming

Transform into the ultimate leader with our tips and tricks for Civilization 6

Civilization VI offers both series veterans and total newcomers a lot to chew on from the get-go. Here are some essential starting tips to help you master the game's many intricacies.
Computing

AMD’s 2020 Ryzen CPUs could have a big boost in power efficiency

The sequel to AMD's Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 CPUs is slated for a 2020 release and when it arrives, could leverage the new Zen 3 architecture to deliver impressive gains to performance and power efficiency.
Computing

The iPhone’s Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts could land on Macs this year

For its desktop computers, it appears that Apple may continue to draw from the iPhone for inspiration. iOS 12 features, like Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts, are believed to be making their way to MacOS this year at WWDC in June.