The digital pen has evolved over the years of its existence, starting with just a plastic tip at one end, to almost become a traditional ballpoint pen.
The technology behind these pens is almost identical to normal touch screens, where electrical charges run across the surface and then the software calculates what it should look like. Precisely today we will be talking about how a digital light pen works.
We will comment not only on its components and operation but also on the types of digital pens that exist and their particularities.
Types of digital pens What is the difference between the stylus and a capacitive pen?
Digital light pens, also known as styluses, are an accessory that is used to write on a tablet, smartphone or computer with a touch screen so that both the stroke and the gesture can be seen reflected on that screen since they also act as pointers instead of our fingers.
But, before talking about how styluses work, it is worth differentiating them from other types of digital pens. Well, although they are mentioned as synonyms, a stylus is not the same as a capacitive pencil. Their differences are that a capacitive pen is considered an active stylus, while the light pen can be described as passive:
Active or stylus pens are battery-powered and send electrical signals through their styluses, making it easy to control where you are on the tablet or what is being written on it.
Capacitive or passive pen
Passive pens, on the other hand, do not need any power at all. Its “needles” are not made of metal like those of an active pen, but instead, use the electrostatic fields that surround your screen and even depend on direct contact with this same medium, to function properly.
Until now, most ink-emulating digital pens have used this passive approach, as they do not require any batteries and also have a higher degree of accuracy when it comes to registering the position of the pen on the digital media.
So how does the digital pen know where to point? Very simple: the electrodes at each corner send signals to an integrated circuit that calculates the x/y coordinates based on how close each corner is to the ground. The screen then shows what has been written instantly.
What is an active digitizer pen for?
Active pens are necessary in many cases, as they can do more than emulate ink on a screen. They were originally designed so that users could take notes by hand instead of typing them on their tablets, using special software later developed by companies like Wacom.
One company that has created one of these types of pens is Samsung with its S-pen, which works with many models of the brand, including the Galaxy Note series and almost all Galaxy Tab models.
The real advantage of active pens is that they can give you extra features that you can’t get with a simple stylus, like the ability to create pressure-sensitive strokes, for example, or even create shortcuts to apps and touch device functionality. .
The S-Pen, to continue with the example, has 4,096 different levels of pressure sensitivity and is capable of detecting both vertical and horizontal tilt angles, allowing you to emulate any type of the desired stroke without having to change the angle on the fly. the one being used. It also allows you to use its buttons to take photos, screenshots, navigate, etc.
How are touch pens made?
Digital pens consist of a stylus with a built-in battery and an extra circuit board attached to the end that has some kind of special contact. This part is usually removable, allowing you to put in different tips if needed.
The tip itself consists of two parts: one part that sends your hand signal as you write, and one that touches the screen. Each contact point contains a coil of wire embedded in a stylus body made of plastic, rubber, or metal, depending on your design.
How do battery-free touch pens work?
Battery-free or passive styluses work by changing their electrical properties, to send out different signals when they come into contact with different surfaces. This is achieved with a circuit board at the end of the stylus that sends out an alternating current.
This current creates a magnetic field, which varies depending on the proximity to another object (in this case, the screen of your tablet or smartphone). As you can see, each contact point will have a unique sign indicating where it is and what stroke you are making.
How long is the tip of a digital pen?
Not a few stylus users wonder when to change the tip of a digital pen? And the truth is that the tip of these can last a long time, depending on how well you take care of it. If the pen is not dropped or over-pressed, you can expect a tip life of up to two years.
Now that you know how a digital stylus works, we invite you to continue learning more about the characteristics of the models available on the market and their potential for different purposes.