Universal Stylus Initiative 1.0 is here, but devices won’t be until 2018

Have you used a stylus lately? If so, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced Sudden Stylus Separation Syndrome – a sudden panic caused by worry that you’ve lost your stylus. It’s not like any old stylus will work with your device. You need that one. And a replacement probably costs around $100.

The Universal Stylus Initiative hopes to fix that. A collaboration of more than 30 global companies — including prominent names like Intel, Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sharp, Synaptics, and Wacom – USI is perhaps best thought of as USB for the stylus. Its goal is to make any stylus work with any USI-enabled device without prior setup or special drivers.

USI has been in development for some time, and Digital Trends reported on it from the Intel Developer Forum, where the basics were laid out. The technology relies on adding the USI specification to a device’s touch controller. Once added, it enables wireless communication over a very short range – a few millimeters, at most.

This two-way communication lets the device and the stylus talk, and it works a lot like Wi-Fi. The pair aren’t constantly connected, but instead send bursts of information so quick they seem continuous. Using this strategy is important, because it enables the connection of up to six styluses at once, and also allows the devices to switch frequencies if a particular frequency doesn’t work well.

Another major feature of USI is the space it reserves for custom commands. Any stylus adhering to the specification can use this space to execute code that enables whatever special features the builder desires. The specifics may require installation of extra drivers, depending on the feature, as the reserved space is limited. But it should, generally speaking, allow some cross-device compatibility of buttons, special functions, and other features that could be found on a stylus.

While Thursday marks the announcement of USI 1.0, it doesn’t come alongside launch products. It will take some time for the first version of the standard to find its way into retail products, as device manufacturers must make devices and styluses that work with it. Alex Erdman, an engineer at Intel working on USI, told us we’ll probably have to wait until 2018 before we see devices that incorporate the standard.

That’s a bit of a wait, and it’s unfortunate. Until then, we’re stuck buying expensive, device-specific styluses. When USI does come around, though, it may lead to far greater competition as manufacturers start to build styluses that are not just great for their device, but great at everything.

Product Review

It's so fast it has a clip-on fan. But the Asus ROG phone isn't just for gamers

Is a gaming smartphone only something a mobile gamer should consider buying? In the case of the Asus ROG Phone, the good news is the device is so capable, and a genuinely impressive all-rounder, that everyone should take a closer look…
Emerging Tech

Of all the vape pens in the world, these 5 are the best

Vaping concentrates has become significantly more popular, especially among those that use cannabis for medicinal purposes. But don’t use just any vape pen: we found these five devices to be our favorites in 2018.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.

Tesla brings track mode to Model 3 Performance

The new Track Mode introduced for the Tesla 3 Performance model adds stability to the drive while you're behind the wheel and is specifically designed for driving on closed track courses.

Turn your iPad into a display for your new Mac Mini with this workaround

The folks at Luna Display have figured out a workaround which lets you get the best of both worlds and use Wi-Fi and an adapter in order to turn your iPad into a display for the 2018 Mac Mini.

Latest SMS breach could allow hackers access to your online accounts

A new security breach that exposed more than 26 million text messages could be a huge nightmare for users relying on two-factor authentication. Many of the SMS on the database contained security codes and account reset links.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mail client goes freemium with the introduction of ads

Microsoft Windows Insiders are finding a nasty surprise inside the Mail app on the latest Windows 10 preview build in the form of banner ads. These ads will appear in the Mail app regardless of the webmail service you use.

All the best Apple MacBook deals for Black Friday 2018

Shoppers looking for a new Apple laptop could find huge savings on a new MacBook come Black Friday. Retailers are offering discounts as much as $650 on select MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models this holiday season.

Apple discontinues AirPort Extreme, Time Capsule as it exits Wi-Fi router business

Apple is now officially no longer in the router business. The company had already stopped selling the AirPort Express, and now its retail stores and websites have stopped offering the AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule.

Secure your Excel documents with a password by following these quick steps

Excel documents are used by people and businesses all over the world. Given how often they contain sensitive information, it makes sense to keep them from the wrong eyes. Thankfully, it's easy to secure them with a password.

Lost your router? Here's how to find its IP address to help track it down

Changing the login information for your router isn't always easy, that's why so many have that little card on the back. But in order to use it, you need to know where to go. Here's how to find the IP address of your router.

PDF to JPG conversion is quick and easy using these simple methods

Converting file formats can be an absolute pain, but it doesn't have to be. We've put together a comprehensive guide on how to convert a PDF to JPG, no matter which operating system you're running.

Crypto hangover could take blame for Nvidia’s potential GeForce RTX 2060 delay

Nvidia's delay in announcing a ship date for its GeForce RTX 2060 GPU could be due to a burst in the cryptocurrency mining bubble. Executives blamed the crypto hangover for an oversupply of inventory on existing GTX 1060 cards,

Save $900 on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and more with Lenovo’s Cyber Monday sales

In the latest set of holiday sales, Lenovo is heavily discounting its fifth-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon and other popular Windows laptops and 2-in-1s for the holiday shopping season.