Universal Stylus Initiative launches to create a specification for an active stylus

The USI is working to develop and promote an industry specification for a cross-system active stylus.

Prominent OEMs, stylus and touch controller manufacturers have announced the launch of Universal Stylus Initiative (USI), a new organization formed to develop and promote an industry specification for an active stylus.


Atmel is joined by a number of founding members including Intel, Lenovo, Sharp, Synaptics, Dell, among several other major names in the industry. USI technology looks to enable interoperable communication between an active stylus and touch-enabled devices, such as smartphones, tablets and computing and entertainment platforms from numerous manufacturers, allowing consumers to seamlessly write or draw on different devices with one high-quality stylus that delivers a realistic pen-on-paper experience. The group expects to publish the initial version of the USI specification in the third quarter of 2015.

“This will be a game changer,” Patrick Hanley, Atmel Product Marketing Manager, tweeted.

This specification will make it possible for manufacturers to design products to a single standard, rather than the variety of proprietary approaches now in use, and it will be compatible with current notebook computer operating system requirements. USI seeks to provide a consistent user experience while increasing the availability and consumer appeal of the active stylus, through providing industry-wide interoperability and adding functions and features not supported by current styluses.

As a leading provider of touch solutions, we identified a need to develop a standardized specification for an active stylus across multiple platforms,” added Stan Swearingen, Atmel SVP, CTO and GM of Touch Business Unit. “As a founding member of Universal Stylus Initiative, we partnered with 11 other companies to define and drive a ubiquitous standard across platforms with capacitive touchscreens. We are excited to launch this new initiative and standardized specification, and believe it will drive more active styluses into the market, creating an evolution of touchscreen devices into content creation devices.”


Features of the USI specification include the method by which the stylus communicates with content creation devices and provides additional information such as stylus pressure levels, button presses, erasing, and other features. Through the same sensor that one’s finger uses to command a device, the stylus communicates via different frequencies to perform the action of writing — writing with up to 2048 different levels of pressure to give the pen-on-paper experience and render thinner or thicker lines in note-taking, painting and doodling, just like an ink pen.

“The market has sorely been needing a universal communication standard for active stylus,” explained Jon Peddie of Jon Peddie Research. “To date the market has been limited by proprietary touch controller-stylus solutions, which limits OEM choices and cost reductions. With the USI specification released, we expect that the capacitive active stylus market will grow from 100 million units in 2015 to 300 million units in 2018, opening up new markets such as smartphones and all-in-one PCs.”

Want to learn more? Head over to USI’s official website here.

2 thoughts on “Universal Stylus Initiative launches to create a specification for an active stylus

  1. Pingback: the Universal Stylus Initiative - SMART News

  2. Pingback: What led to the Universal Stylus Initiative | Amazon Discounts

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