On Tuesday startup FiftyThree released a piece of hardware called Pencil, an iPad stylus, as a companion to the company's application, Paper. The real news, though, is that this is not your cousin's stylus and it's nothing like using your finger. By Tuesday morning raves were pouring in from numerous techie sites saying that Pencil is a new chapter in working with tablet and tool, and there is no looking back.
John Ikeda, one of the designers, emphasized that the Pencil was much more than an alternative finger. Pencil is to be used, well, as a pencil. No special buttons to press. You use one side of the Pencil to draw. You simply flip it to use the other side to erase, or to white out design elements in a painting, like making white dots, or whatever you need to do when using a real eraser.
Sensitive electronics components enable Pencil to do its tasks and it is also tooled with Bluetooth. The engineering team crafted a device that also features palm rejection. This is a technology that "ignores" a resting palm on the surface. The user's actions with Pencil remain in control with no external interruptions from the action of the palm.
Overall, kitted out with smart electronics, and used in conjunction with Paper, Pencil is not passive. While Pencil along with Paper on an iPad leverages the Pencil's smart capabilities, Pencil can also be used as a passive stylus with any app.
Strokes, Blends, Angles
Writing and drawing are actions that are fun for casual users but are serious support tools for engineers, academics, scientists, and marketing/advertising creatives. FiftyThree aims to tap into this market, with solutions for writing and drawing. The side of the top can deliver broader strokes, and the fingers can become additional tools for creating a liquefying, blending effect as well. The device is sensitive to how hard you press down or what angle you use for drawing nuances.
No matter what stage we advance to in a digital age, there remains a fundamental need for a utensil in hand for writing, drawing, sketching, doodling, and just plain thinking. FiftyThree CEO Georg Petschnigg and team say the Pencil supports thinking with your hands.
The lithium-polymer battery will last a month under normal use and can be recharged on any USB port in under 90 minutes. The device comes in a walnut outer shell for $59.95 or a graphite version for $49.95, and it goes on sale today from the company Web site. (continued...)