Small: The Next Big Thing in Styluses

| Analysis

LAS VEGAS - The stylus market for the iPad is a hotbed of activity with new designs and features rolling out almost daily. The latest feature looks to be small, at least in the case of Adonit, and the Jot Script is a taste of exactly where the company's product line is headed.

Small stylus tips are about to be a big thingSmall stylus tips are about to be a big thing

The Jot Script is a new stylus from Adonit that looks more like a ball point pen than a touch accessory for your iPad. It sports a 1.9 mm tip -- smaller than the minimum 4 mm the iPad normally supports -- that works with any app thanks to the company's PixelPoint technology. The result is a stylus that looks like it belongs on a pad of paper instead of an Apple tablet.

The technology lets Adonit use a much smaller tip compared to other styluses. So small, in fact, that it really does look like a traditional pen. It's small size makes for such a big difference compared to the company's other products, so The Mac Observer asked Adonit's Rafael Gomez at CES 2014 what that meant for the rest of their product lineup.

"This is the future," he said. "All of our styluses will get redesigned to use the smaller tips."

By shrinking the tip down, users get something that feels more like the pens they used before iPads were a thing, and they can see more of their screen when they write or draw. The end result is a stylus that better emulates traditional writing instead of simulating like most styluses do now.

It also shows the next phase in stylus development. First, we had simple styluses that did nothing more than simulate our finger tip, then we moved on to pressure sensitivity. Next comes the size reduction phase as companies find ways to pack the same technology into less bulky designs, and to move stylus tips below the iPad's 4 mm limit.

Adonit is there now with its Jot Script, and other companies such as Cregle are going small, too. Expect to see more of the same from other developers in the coming months.

We're on the verge of another change in the stylus world that has the potential to be far more radical than shrinking tips thanks to the innovation that's coming from teamups like Adobe and Adonit. Adobe showed off its Mighty stylus and Napoleon ruler concepts several months ago and has since teamed up with Adonit to make its concept a reality.

The idea behind Mighty is to take the stylus form factor and turn in into something that's more than just an analog for a pencil. The Mighty does that by becoming a tool that communicates with multiple devices, sharing image elements and other graphics so you can jump between your iPads, or to your iPhone, and take just the image parts you need along for the ride.

Adobe and Adonit aren't saying when Mighty will ship, but based on what TMO is hearing you shouldn't expect to see one in the flesh for at least several more months. As more developers start thinking outside the traditional stylus box, we'll get to see other interesting ideas come to life, too. Until then, expect your styluses to get smaller -- it's the next big thing.

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1 Comments

John Dingler, artist

Yes, the hamhock-like tips of old were deal-breakers for me. With these pen tip sizes, I will not be reluctant to do stuff with my iPad at the local coffee shop.

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