Nvidia shows off software-based pressure-sensitive display

It seems that you will no longer need a specialized stylus like the Galaxy Note 2's S Pen to etch out a sketch on your smartphone.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low
Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang writes his name in Mandarin. John Chan/CNET

TAIPEI -- Are you someone who loves drawing on a smartphone but bemoans the fact that you need a Galaxy Note 2 to get the precise strokes required for your masterpiece?

Well, the good news is that during a demonstration at the Computex electronics show in Taiwan, Nvidia's CEO Jen-Hsun Huang showed off a software-based pressure sensitive display powered by the company's Tegra 4 chipset, and he was using a normal nondigitizer stylus to draw on it.

The trick behind the tech lies in Nvidia's Prism display, introduced with the Tegra 3. Prism basically reads the screen and optimizes pixels and brightness to save battery life. For the Tegra 4, Nvidia uses the same technique to detect how an ordinary capacitive stylus interacts with the screen.

The software is able to sense how much the stylus' head is pressing down on the display at the point of writing and adjusts the stroke sizes accordingly. Huang also flipped the stylus around to erase what he wrote, and because the stylus had a specific thickness at that end, the display was able to "know" that it needed to be erasing.

Nvidia also said that the software will be made available to all Tegra 4 devices -- this means you don't need the Wacom-powered S Pen or similar styli for drawing.

John Chan contributed to the report.