An ultrasonic stylus from Texas Instruments

Android Central at Mobile World Congress

At Mobile World Congress 2012, Texas Instruments was demonstrating a stylus that communicates its distance from a tablet over ultrasonic frequencies. The tablet in this demo has a microphone in each of its four corners, which can pinpoint exactly where the stylus is pointing at the screen, even if you're not touching it. Of course, the stylus also works perfectly well along the two standard planes, but it's particularly cool when you pull back and the model correspondingly zooms out. 

It's easy to imagine plenty of far-out use cases for a stylus that can positioned in 3D space. Anyone doing architectural work would have a much easier time navigating digital models, for instance. Maybe artists could start taking up digital sculpture, or maybe it could enable some Wii-style kinetic games on tablets, I don't know. At the very least businesspeople and teachers will have a great way of demonstrating and interacting with 3D objects.

The big focus of TI's presence at Mobile World Congress 2012 was their new OMAP 5-class chips, which run on Cortex A15 processors (as opposed to A9s) and is their foray into 28 nm manufacturing, but there's little new there - as far as end users are concerned, it's the same stuff as OMAP 4, only faster.

For now, this ultrasonic stylus is just a tech demo, and TI still has to get a manufacturer on the hook to actually use this product, but their spokesperson estimates that it would only take a quarter or two to see it in market once an agreement was reached. What do you guys think of this use case? After spending a healthy amount of time with the Samsung Galaxy Note, I was a little dubious about the future of the stylus, but with stuff like this showing up, it's clear that there are still a lot of unexplored use cases. 


Reader comments

Texas Instruments shows off ultrasonic stylus that can work in three dimensions


People come with the 10 best stylus....

8 fingers and two opposable thumbs!

A stulus is nothing more than an expensive item that will eventually fall out of the phone/tablet!

I'm sorry but people have stopped writing and painting with their fingers a long time ago. Sure kids might like to paint with their hands but artists need a more precise tool. I do art for a living and using your fingers to do real work just doesn't cut it.

This is precisely the only reason why i haven't bought an android tablet "usually at 599/499, as oppose to a wacom enabled tabletpc thats about the same price.
I haven't gotten the tabletpc, due to its heavy weight, and super battery drains, but now I'm glad i waited since this is what i've been waiting for, since the HTC flyer which never really exited me, due to being a non wacom certified device.

The most asinine comment I've ever read. So just because YOU don't use a stylus means there is no use for one. And fall out? Really? Have you ever even seen a tablet with a pen? The thing gets locked in there tight assuming the manufacturer did their job.

Fingers are NOT the best stylus. How about coming up with something original instead of stealing a line from Steve Jobs. Who probably stole it from someone else after he called them a joke then a week later says it like he came up with it all on his own.

It's asshattery when somebody knocks a product because THEY wouldn't use it. My girlfriend is a graphic artist who needs a stylus to draw on her Waacom tab. I'd love to see Wii-like games with stylus integration, and actually have a watered down mobile Adobe CS suite on a tablet. Great for spur of the moment ideas and fixes.