In a move that has long been rumoured, Microsoft has announced today on the Surface Blog that they have acquired the digital pen technology from N-Trig Ltd. This is the pen technology that they have employed in the Surface Pro 3, and now the Surface 3.

With Windows 10, pen input is getting even more useful, so this move makes a lot of sense.

One of the nice parts about the N-Trig technology is that the entire product stack required is much thinner, and there is no need for a deep level digitizer under the display, so the pen feels more like it is writing directly on the display.

At CES, I had a chance to visit with N-Trig and they have a lot of interesting pens coming to market, all with different tip feels and ergonomics. They even had a pen with a supercapcitor rather than a battery, which will give you a month’s charge on the pen in five seconds of charging.

Microsoft has been key to show off uses of the pen during the Build conference this week, and there are a lot of apps which make use of inking including the Staff Pad app that they showed which can be used by music writers to compose music. The other obvious ones are apps like One Note, where you can quickly jot down notes or drawings. Microsoft’s Fresh Paint also is fantastic with the pen, and my six year old daughter has been loving that app.

Details of the sale were not made public at this time.

Source: Surface Blog



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  • zodiacsoulmate - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    so... wacom is still the best right? Reply
  • kyuu - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    N-trig on the Surface is really quite competitive. Better in some respects, really. Reply
  • npz - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    N-trig is probably fine for most people, however there are scenarios where people prefer Wacom like pressure sensitivity (1024 - 2056 vs 256 in N-trig) or tilt sensitvity for high end Wacom. It should be noted that Wacom has two different technologies now, EMR and AES, with AES using a battery like all its competitors.

    N-trig still suffers from this problem that Wacom does not:
  • npz - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    But Wacom EMR as implemented in computing tablets has other issues like loosing some accuracy near the edges of the screen, fixed with AES... but AES has less hover distance. So it's all a compromise. I *think* they get around issues with EMR in their own products by extending the digitizer layer further out beyond the screen for the new Cintiques and the drawing area for the drawing tablets. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Saturday, May 2, 2015 - link

    Is it 'REALLY' 1024 vs 256. Have a search and you might find that it's not. Reply
  • npz - Saturday, May 2, 2015 - link

    Yes it is really. It's also the reason why the initial activation force of N-trig is higher. You have to press harder to register a stroke. This difference has already been measured. On Wacom, you can lightly brush the pen and it'll still register a very light stroke. Reply
  • lilmoe - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    That's a very good move. I can only see it getting better in the future with Microsoft's support. What I also like to see is the 1ms touch lag they're researching. Would be great for further enhancing the touch experience.
    Also, Samsung's Air View would also be very useful for standard touch on Windows 10 tablets for hover feedback.
  • WorldWithoutMadness - Friday, May 1, 2015 - link

    Well this is actually old news from early Feb but this is the official statement from MSFT.
    Wacom also had released Wacom AES which reported better stylus experience than n-trig in Toshiba Encore 2 Write.
    Worst is nobody wants to use n-trig except Microsoft as there are a lot of competitions in active stylus solution.
  • damianrobertjones - Saturday, May 2, 2015 - link

    You do not and NEVER will speak for everyone. On the Tablet PC Review forums they're actually quite happy with N-Trig. Why do people keep on repeating the same things over and over like it'll always be true? Reply
  • meacupla - Monday, May 4, 2015 - link

    I'm happy with whatever MS used in the original surface pro.

    Then again, I don't use it often, since most of the time it's used as a laptop with mouse.

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