Bringing The Power of AnyPen to Android

Guest blog by Jeff Meredith, Vice President and General Manager, Tablets, Mobile Business Group.

At CES, we debuted the YOGA Tablet 2 with Windows featuring AnyPen Technology. Long name, but the product was a hit. What makes it particularly interesting besides the different modes of the tablet is the ability to write literally with any pen, or pencil, or even as we discovered, organic edibles like a carrot. We introduced this technology first on the 8-in Windows tablet, and it makes complete sense for users who need a better way to write and use Office documents to work on a small, compact tablet.

Now at Mobile World Congress, we’re demonstrating how this technology works now on Android. We got a lot of feedback after CES about putting it on Android. While we aren’t announcing it on a particular product just yet, we are showing off this technology. Think about it. No matter the operating system, there are times when a pen just works better. Drawing a picture. Taking notes with Evernote. Creating a mindmap to brainstorm or organize your thoughts. Even editing photos and using apps that rely on writing.

So what did we do under the hood to make it work?
Let’s start behind the touch display glass. Behind it there are two layers of film that act like a coordinate system tracking the location of your finger. Think of it like plotting points using an X and Y-axis, similar to what we learned in school. Most tablets are great at registering where your finger is placed on the screen, but in general, they lack the ability to register smaller objects like a pen or stylus. Tablets are tuned to recognize a finger's contact with the display, meaning smaller objects geet picked up as noise.

With AnyPen, we’ve solved the noise problem and improved how the display film registers signals from both larger objects like finger tips, as well as smaller objects like a pen. On the film layer, the channel inputs have been organized in a pattern that can now recognize the use of inputs as small as 1mm. So that means where you could previously only use it with your fingers, now you can use a variety of objects as input methods.

This is only step one. The noise problem I mentioned earlier still exists. Imagine trying to write on the display and the tablet gets confused every time your hand accidentally touches it. The solution must feel natural.

To solve this, we incorporated a specialized IC (integrated circuit) capable of receiving all channel inputs. Then it quickly determines which is the input and which is actually noise. By doing this, we can now process in real-time, delivering a more natural experience to users. We’re continuing to improve this technology to bring it to new platforms in the future.

So the obvious questions are when will you sell Android with AnyPen? And which products will you put it on? Right now, we’re just demoing the technology on Android, but stay tuned for more on this story. We’ve started with an 8-in screen on the YOGA Tablet 2 running Windows since it’s in between smartphones and PCs at a size where you would benefit from using a stylus. But, I want to hear what you think. Would you use a pen to do email on your phone? Or should we look at bigger screen tablets and/or PCs? Send me your votes and comments.

Pen Gets Better with WRITEit
Let’s switch gears back to Windows 8.1. If you came to CES, you may have heard about WRITEit. It’s a software application we created in-house to better the handwriting experience on any, not just Lenovo, Windows 8 touch screen and pen-enabled laptops, desktops and tablets. We set out to have WRITEit do three things: let users write directly into text fields, work across multiple types of devices and give real-time feedback and auto-correction. 

I’m pleased to report the beta for WRITEit on ThinkPad laptops that use pen is now live and we’re signing up users here for the beta on capacitive devices like our YOGA Tablet 2 with AnyPen.

WRITEit lets you write nearly anywhere. No more having to use the Windows IME to input text into designated handwriting boxes within apps. Now you can write your input directly into nearly any field that accepts typed input, and we think this makes handwriting a much more natural and ubiquitous means of input. I’ve been testing it for months, and I can tell you I use it most for initiating web searches and responding to emails in Outlook. There’s no lag time, and it has auto correction to help catch typos. 

Here's a video demo of what we're showing folks at Mobile World Congress this week. Take a look and let us know what you think!