In computing, a stylus (or stylus pen) is a small pen-shaped instrument whose tip position on a touchscreen can be detected by the screen. It is used to draw, or make selections by tapping, on devices with touchscreens such as computers, mobile devices (smartphones and personal digital assistants), game consoles, and graphics tablets. While touchscreens can usually be operated with a fingertip, a stylus provides more accurate and controllable input. The stylus (or fingertip) has the same function as a mouse or trackpad as a pointing device; its use is commonly called pen computing.
Graphics tablets use a stylus containing circuitry, which may be battery-powered or operate passively by inductance, to allow multi-function buttons on the barrel of the pen or stylus to transmit user instructions to the tablet. Most tablets detect varying degrees of pressure sensitivity, e.g., for use in a drawing program to vary line thickness or color density.
Beyond the side of the input mechanism, there has been a need for the physical output of the stylus. Recently, new pen-based interfaces have been proposed to simulate the realistic physical sensations on digital surfaces (e.g., tablet computer, smartphone etc.) to allow users to feel as if they feel like analog-pen writing, for instance, RealPen Project.
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