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Embedded magnetometers enable mobile device stylus

Posted: 26 Jul 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:magnetometers? smartphone? tablets?

Graduate student Sungjae Hwang of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) developed a magnetically-driven pen interface for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets so long as they have embedded magnetometers.

Almost all mobile devices today provide location-based services, and magnetometers are incorporated in the integrated circuits of smartphones or tablet PCs, functioning as compasses. Taking advantage of built-in magnetometers, Hwang's team came up with a technology that enabled an input tool for mobile devices such as a capacitive stylus pen to interact more sensitively and effectively with the devices' touch screen.

The 'MagPen' utilises magnetometers embedded in smartphones, thus there is no need to build an additional sensing panel for a touchscreen as well as circuits, communication modules, or batteries for the pen. With an application installed on smartphones, it senses and analyses the magnetic field produced by a permanent magnet embedded in a standard capacitive stylus pen.

Bezel dragging and spinning a stylus pen to select the thickness of the lines

Figure 1: Bezel dragging and spinning a stylus pen to select the thickness of the lines.

The MagPen detects the direction at which a stylus pen is pointing; selects colours by dragging the pen across smartphone bezel; identifies pens with different magnetic properties; recognises pen-spinning gestures; and estimates the finger pressure applied to the pen.

Notably, with its spinning motion, the MagPen expands the scope of input gestures recognised by a stylus pen beyond its existing vocabularies of gestures and techniques such as titling, hovering, and varying pressures. The tip of the pen switches from a pointer to an eraser and vice versa when spinning and it can also choose the thickness of the lines drawn on a screen by spinning.

Hwang created the MagPen in collaboration with Myung-Wook Ahn and Andrea Bianchi under advisory Professor Kwang-yun Wohn of the Graduate School of Culture Technology (GSCT) at KAIST.

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