“Who Wants A Stylus?”
– Steve Jobs, MacWorld 2007
As it turns out, plenty of people do. Not for navigating around the user interface, mind you — Steve (et al.) was absolutely right about that. But for the artists of the world looking to use the iPhone or iPad as their newfangled portable glass canvas, the stylus wins over the finger any day.
And yet, the myriad iPad styluses floating about generally lack something that artists have come to expect of their digital pens: pressure sensitivity. Dubbing itself “the world’s first pressure sensitive stylus for iPad”, a successfully Kickstarted project called “jaja” looks to change that.
And for that last bit of bonus flare: they’re trying to do it all without using WiFi or Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. So how does it communicate with the iPad? Sound.
As you probably know, the world is just full of sounds that we can’t hear. Generally speaking, the human ear can hear sounds between 20 and 20,000 Hz. According to the guys behind jaja, the iPad’s mic can pick up frequencies well beyond that, giving them a bit of space on the high-end to pass signals as sound without driving everyone around you crazy. (But what about the dogs? Won’t someone think of the dogs?!)
In addition to pressure sensitivity, the jaja will also have two built-in buttons meant to be used as hotkeys (for switching brushes, for example, or one-click undo/redo functionality.)
Of course, any iPad app you’re hoping to use this with (beyond the basic, non-pressure-sensitive stylus functionality) will need to pack support for jaja’s in-progress SDK. Your favorite drawing apps probably aren’t currently using the microphone for anything right now, much less for parsing out high-pitched whining.
One thing I’m left curious about: what about ambient sound? Take airplanes, for example. Without reliance on WiFi/Bluetooth, it’s noted that the jaja can be used safely on a plane. But plane engines generate an absurd amount of sound — much of that in the higher ranges. Might that cause interference?
Whatever the case, the jaja is well past its original $25,000 goal on Kickstarter, so the odds of it making it to the real world are pretty solid. $40 gets you one of the first 500 jajas, 471 of which have already been snatched up.