NVIDIA Showing Off New “DirectStylus” Capabilities for Tegra 4 Tablets

by Bill Henry

As Computex’s doors swing open today, NVIDIA is demonstrating a new technology for Tegra 4-based tablets that lets a fine-tip passive stylus be used to draw lines of different width simply by varying the pressure applied by the user.

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang shows off DirectStylus.

The result is the first low-cost screen stylus that replicates the natural ease of writing – and erasing – directly on paper.

NVIDIA DirectStylus technology applies the image-processing power of Tegra 4’s GPU to analyze data from a standard touch sensor and recognize the difference between fine-tip stylus, finger, eraser and palm.

The result: Users can write on the screen using a simple passive pen and its opposite end can be used like an eraser, whose unique touch pattern can be differentiated from drawing strokes.

While passive styluses are available on the market, they generally have fat, 5mm tips that draw only one line width without the user selecting different stroke widths from a menu. These are of limited use, especially in Asian markets, where drawing characters requires line strokes of continually varying width.

Huang does something that he couldn't do with older tablet writing technology: writes his name.
Jen-Hsun easily writes his name using Chinese characters, thanks to NVIDIA’s new DirectStylus technology.

Active 1.5mm styluses on the market that are capable of making strokes of varying width typically require a dedicated digitizer and cost at least $20. In contrast, the DirectStylus solution is an inexpensive passive conductive stylus.

DirectStylus works in conjunction with Direct Touch 2.0 technology which supports up to 300 scans a second (five times the typical 60Hz touch scan rate) to capture more detailed movement of the stylus for smooth ink and fine tip movement.

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  • Frank Busborg

    Quite impressive and another selling point 😀


  • Sonal Pinto

    Damn! Impressive O_O … 

  • kenyee

    Doubt this anywhere as accurate as Wacom’s technology.  I’ve used a passive stylus on previous phones before and the accuracy was horrid…
    Looking forward to trying it though…

  • Xiaohui Tao

    Does your previous phone have passive stylus functionality? If not, it will be the case that it won’t working properly.

    This is totally a new technology and I can tell the accuracy is very good

  • Brian_Caulfield

    Let us know what you think when you do! 

  • Pablo

    Will it work in mobile browsers or only with a dedicated app?
    What devices has Tegra 4?

  • Alex Kukanin

    Nothing impressive at all. I can do that with my finger (some apps can detect the finger “pressure”) right now and without tegra. I’d rather see a regular English handwriting with this tech, but that is not possible, no doubt. Samsung Note forever!

  • fm123

    Because the Samsung includes a digitizer hardware (Wacom based) into the face for the touch input, the Tegra design doesn’t.  That’s the point, Tegra has a lower cost for this feature, no extra hardware needed.

  • Alex Kukanin

    You are being fooled by this misleading advertisement. The new Tegra feature can not match Samsung digitizer at all. It is only for line width control. You can not do any good handwriting, unless your handwriting is 7 letters per page (as on pictures above).

  • fm123

    Fooled by what?  He says he compares it to $20 aftermarket devices, not full Wacom devices.  No one else has shown this kind of technology (prototype version was shown), variable pressure without extra hardware.  In the video he draws fine lines in the center of the rectangle character at the bottom.  I mean, even with my finger I can draw English words on a small phone screen that Google Translate can convert, but the characters he drew need a stylus.


    Compare the cost.  A Galaxy Note 2 is about $650 versus a LG Optimus G Pro $550 (AT&T list pricing).  That’s $100 difference, the LG doesn’t have a digitizer stylus.  The newly announced Toshiba Tegra 4 tablets are also $100 more for the Wacom version.  Most people who would use this occasionally wouldn’t necessarily want to pay $100 more.

    How can it be a marketing gimmick, extra features for no extra cost?  How many people are using mobile devices in the Far East?  Lot and lots, and those characters need fine precision to look good.

  • ggbb1221


  • Alex Kukanin

    Fooled by the word “handwriting”. This technology does nothing to the English handwriting improvement. Thin lines are not tiny letters. Did you try Samsung Note after all? You’d see the difference at once.

  • EJ_Su

    Sounds to me like you already tried the Direct Stylus.
    I personally haven’t tried this Direct Stylus, but I am willing to try before I make any assumption. At least from what I am seeing in the video, it does what they say.

  • EJ_Su

    I am sorry, Wacom is NOT accurate. I own and have extensive use of 3 different models of Cintiq, 3 different OEM Penable TabletPC, and now Note I, Note II and Note 10.1, none of these I would classify as accurate, especially toward around the corner of the screens. 
    I did get used to it, but Wacom is far from accurate.

  • Alex Kukanin

    I did not (don’t even planning). The video and images revealing the truth.It’s a gimmick.

  • kenyee

    The Cintiq/Note far more accurate than a capacitive stylus (aka the ones you can buy for iPhones).  Those only have an accuracy of around 40 pixels IIRC, because they’re look like a finger to the phone.

  • EJ_Su

    I was not even comparing it to capacitive stylus.
    Cintiq or Penable pens even though the tips are as small as 1.5 mm, the on screen tip is registering away from the actual pen tip by as far as 4 mm if you have a larger screen such as Cintiq. That’s horribly inaccurate if you ask me.

    Now if I was to compare it to a capacitive stylus, capacitive screen captures all the pixels on the screen (your finger) and calculate the approximate center of that touch surface, it is somewhat accurate according to surface of the contact. So in effect, having a capacitive tip that can be narrowed down to 1.5 mm, we already know the tip will be registered only where it touches, so I would imagine (I wouldn’t know because I haven’t try it) that the accuracy would most likely better than Wacom, but on the other hand, what kind of pressure sensitivity can we get out of this? Would it work better than Wacom tech? That’s a different story.

  • kenyee

     capacitive tips can’t be narrowed down to 1.5mm…that was my point…

  • EJ_Su

    Your original post was Wacom is accurate which is not true.
    Whatever this technology is, it has to be capacitive, because no new screen hardware has been added.

  • Akvilibrium

    Когда в Украине появится и по какой цене!?

  • ZeeLobby

    Will the surface 2 use this?

  • Yuki Hokazono

     Please sell stylus pen and distribute directstylus application (driver) for android tablet that we cannot use stylus default.

  • murat dogusan

    what about no? buy a tegra 4 tablet if you want that.

  • http://www.jackimocalvetti.com Jack Calvett

    This technology is awesome but useless until you guys get it into larger tablets and get adobe and autodesk on board to support directstylus technology. I am still waiting to hear news about whats next for directstylus. A cintiq like device would be cool. Whats going on?