Magnetic Pen For Smartphones: KAIST
July 25, 2013

New Magnetic Pen For Smartphones Developed

[ Watch the Video: MagPen Enhances Pen Interaction On Smartphones ]

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have developed a new pen to extend existing features on smartphones.

The MagPen is a magnetically driven pen interface that works both on and around tablets and smartphones that have magnetometers embedded in them. The team came up with a technology that enabled an input tool for mobile devices such as the capacitive stylus pen to interact more sensitively and effectively with a devices' touch screen.

The magnetic pen utilizes the magnetometers in smartphones, enabling it to sense and analyze the magnetic field produced by a permanent magnet embedded in a standard captive stylus pen.

"Our technology is eco-friendly and very affordable because we are able to improve the expressiveness of the stylus pen without requiring additional hardware beyond those already installed on the current mobile devices," said Sungjae Hwang, a Ph.D. student who is advised by Professor Kwang-yun Wohn of the Graduate School of Culture Technology (GSCT). "The technology allows smartphone users to enjoy added convenience while no wastes generated."

The MagPen is able to detect the direction at which a stylus pen is pointing; can select colors by dragging the pen across bezels; identify pens with different magnetic properties; recognize pen-spinning gestures; and estimate the finger pressure applied. The device also is able to recognize gestures and techniques such as tilting, hovering and varying pressures.

"It's quite remarkable to see that the MagPen can understand spinning motion. It's like the pen changes its living environment from two dimensions to three dimensions. This is the most creative characteristic of our technology," added Hwang, who developed the pen in collaboration with Myung-Wook Ahn, a master's student at the GSCT of KAIST, and Andrea Bianchi, a professor at Sungkyunkwan University.

The research team will be presenting a paper on the MagPen technology next month at the 15th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services in Germany. The team will also be conducting other projects to develop different types of magnetic gadgets that include the Magnetic Marionette, which is a cover for a smartphone that allows for augmented interactions.

Hwang and colleagues' initial research was first presented at the International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces organized by the Association for Computing Machinery last March.