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Adobe Getting Into Hardware, Introduces a Cloud-Connected Pen Stylus and Ruler for Mobile Devices

05.7.13 @ 9:34PM Tags : , , , ,

adobe_mighty_stylus_napoleon_rulerAdobe had quite a bit to talk about at their conference yesterday. Besides announcing that they were ending Creative Suite and making it a Creative Cloud-only option, they also talked about a few hardware projects they’ve been working on: Mighty, a new cloud-connected pen stylus, and Napoleon, a ruler — both made specifically for mobile devices. While the hardware itself may not be all that innovative, the way it interacts with the devices takes mobile creations to a whole different level. Check out the introduction video below from Michael Gough, Adobe’s VP of Product Experience:

While these aren’t actually being released anytime soon, I would expect to see much more from Adobe regarding hardware down the road. I think both of these have tons of potential, and we’re likely to see versions from many different manufacturers — ideally doing more than pen and paper ever could. They also announced what they are calling Project Context, which is going to be helpful for editorial and publishing (you know, kind of like the site you’re reading right now).

Here is Adobe on Context:

When combined with InDesign and the Digital Publishing Suite, Context creates an ideal editorial and publishing environment for Wired and other publishers. Context offers a powerful and intuitive way to grab assets from just about anywhere, and to collaboratively organize and eventually even edit and publish them. These exploratory projects stand a much better chance of becoming real shipping products when we work with a customer to build them. We have the good fortune to be working with WIRED to build out the first version of Context as a system to support the editorial and layout process for their magazine.


I think there may be a bright future for these kinds of smart devices that really bridge the gap between physical and digital assets. These sorts of drawing tools look to be helpful for those of us who are less artistically inclined, especially if we’re working on something like storyboarding or pre-visualization. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how they implement the cloud-based connectivity, as that could open up quite a few possibilities for connecting your mobile work to your desktop work.

What do you guys think about the stylus and ruler? Do you see these having applications in your own work? How about Project Context? Let us know what you think below.

Adobe XD explores the analog future – Adobe

[via The Verge]

Disclosure: Adobe is a nofilmschool advertiser.


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  • I like it. The only problem I seem to see is the latency when you draw. There seems to be like a half second delay between when draw and actually see the line appear. The lack of instant visual feedback kinda annoys me.

  • Only issue I’m seeing with it is that it doesn’t seem as responsive as I’d like to commit to buying.

  • Soooooo….. They created a stylus that uses the same poorly designed tip as 95% of styluses out there that doesn’t let you see where you’re really drawing because it’s the size of a child’s dull crayon, and they made a ruler that lets you trace a line or an arc using your inaccurate stylus but uses proximity snapping to -actually- do the drawing. Got it. Oh and some cloud based clip-art. Almost forgot that.

    Here’s a tip Adobe, Adonit makes a far superior and more natural feeling stylus that uses a clear tip for accurate drawing WITHOUT software aids. Your software as demonstrated is laggier than anything people will pay $10 for on the iOS app store because things like Procreate exist and have useable performance. Oh and cloud clip-art isn’t that big of a deal. Like. Ever. Even if it’s “your very own”.

    Admittedly, the ruler is a decent idea but like everything Adobe if it has to live in their ecosystem they can GTFO at least for me. So a $30 stylus (or a $90 version if you want pressure sensitivity) and a $10 piece of software and you have 75% of what they demonstrated. Let’s see how much they think chumps are willing to pay….

    • Oh and I should add, another $5 gets you Penultimate where you can take all your notes and automatically have them synch to Evernote “in the cloud” because there’s a very real difference between drawing apps and note taking apps. Is Adobe making the next Penultimate killer? Will their no-doubt pricey pen work well with existing software or lose all its functionality outside Adobe’s stuff and be an overpriced $10 stylus? What’s that Lassie, “I’m smoking heroin if I think that’ll happen?” Sounds about right.

  • So is there going to be a monthly fee to use the hardware? Maybe if you don’t pay they change the passcode and you can’t log into your own device?

    • LOL. I’m sure they’ll make everything monthly fee-based and once you stop paying they lock the doors, turn off the lines, and act like they’ve never heard of you or your data.

      • I’m quite tired of the videos that feel they have to start with the most common myths about creative cloud. Though comments like that make me understand that, yes. People still believe these myths.

        Yes you can sync with CC. But the synching part makes sure that the materials synched are stored on the local devices. The only thing that dissapears when you stop paying is the synching. THE FILES ARE STILL ON YOUR DRIVE.

        Same thing with the apps. The apps stop working but everything that you have made with the apps are still there… again. The files are still on your drive. No need to worry.

        Ok, they stopped with the perpetual licenses. But I would rather pay a small amount every month and stay up to date than to pay 10 grand and then have to work with outdated software for 2-3 years because I haven’t the money for the 18 month upgrade.

        Yes, when I pay 49.99 bucks per month I’m stacking up to the usual yearly fee for an upgrade. But not really.

        • If you actually do the math the Cloud costs WAY more… I was updating my Production Premium every other version and that came out to about $16 a month as opposed to $50… Staying “up to date” is over-rated. Most of the features Adobe adds are gimmicks. They haven’t added anything I really actually NEED since switching over to 64-bit in CS5.

          And before you talk about how you get everything in the Master Collection, let me tell you I don’t want all that crap. I’m not a web designer. I don’t need anything but production premium.

          And the idea that if I stop paying them I won’t have anything to open my old projects, well that makes me sick.

          CC was designed for stupid suckers who look at everything based on monthly expenses rather than the big picture. Those are the idiots that end up paying $30,000 for a $20,000 car because they don’t understand interest rates and are looking at whether they can afford the monthly payment or not… Only this is worse because your paying $30,000 for a $20,000 car and then when you stop paying they repossess it…

  • I’ve actually been in development for the last 2 months with a tallented app developer and also a manufacturer of a very good stylus for the iPad, creating something that is VERY similar to this! Looks like we better hurry ;) Eek!

  • Nice ruler, ttablet response is still slow though

  • Pencil pusher on 05.8.13 @ 2:00AM

    I’m quickly becoming a fan of the Adobe Cloud. No complaints there. But show me one person who uses a regular pen like that. Nobody. It’s the inherent flaw of the touch capacitive stylus model. If you want me to buy a pen, let me rest my palm on the surface like I’ve done for the last 1,000 years. (Okay, for me, the last 35 years).

    • +1 for palm on the surface

    • Indeed! I can’t believe the presentator didn’t make a single reference to the fact he was holding the pen in the air.

      • I’ve been story boarding with a pressure sensitive stylus (and even creating vector artwork to then later import into AE for McGrath work) for some time now and I can honestly say that after a day you totally get into using some of the better apps out there. And as far as resting your palm on the screen goes – you can use the hand glider which is a $20 glove which covers just your little finger and ring finger. In fact, just get a lightweight glove and cut some fingers off :) You would be surprised at the advantages using your iPad can be for this kind of thing when you get used to it. My recommendations are the TenOne stylus which has amazing pressure sensitivity but a bit of chinky nip (which they tell me they are working on smaller replacements for as they are magnetic and interchangeable) and for the app Sketchclub is AMAZING! Give it a try you might like it :)

  • I like the ideas at play here, like using data syncing over the internet to copy and paste drawings or how the ruler projects guide tools onto the drawing space, but there are still a few usability issues that might arise in using this system.

    First, the latency looks to be frustratingly poor — if one can’t see exactly what they’ve drawn as they’re drawing it, it creates quite a disconnect for the user. Slow latency is fine for slower, casual applications, but when you want to have as much precision as possible, especially when you’re already stuck drawing on slippery glass, it can be hard to be satisfied with lag. Writing of precision, the tip of the stylus not only looks enormous for fine line work, but seems to flex and bend like some form of cushioned rubber bumper. Such frictional feel could be useful for painting-like applications, but for situations where one wants to draw fine pencil-like lines it seems less so. Finally, not being able to rest one’s hand on the drawing surface for fear of triggering a touch screen action may be uncomfortable for many illustrators familiar with most other drawing systems.

    Wacom tablets are obviously the gold standard to aim for here. What brand recognition Adobe has in the realm of image editing, Wacom mirrors in the realm of stylus-based input to personal computers. A potential cool product idea might be some form of cover or case over top the iPad’s screen that would make it specifically compatible with a Wacom-style stylus while enabling one to rest their hand on the surface. With a slim form factor, such a product could retain the portability factor of Adobe’s system while improving usability.

    • I’ve had Wacom tablets for more than 5 years and they’re the loveliest thing (scanners became obsolete for me pretty much at the moment tried a tablet for the first time) and seeing as this doesnt come close to a Cintiq screen (prices aside) then it’s not really worth it. At least until palm resting and lag are solved.

  • Casey Orion on 05.8.13 @ 8:06AM

    One thing I really like is the idea of carrying you adobe identity in the pen rather than the operating device. Provided they maintain solid security it could actually become a very handy thing if they apply it to desktop applications as well. If you work in multiple locations you don’t have to take your entire machine just your pen. It would essentially be a useful ilok

  • He had me until “ideating”.


  • I have that technology right now. It’s called an Adonit Jot Touch. Pressure sensitivity in sketchbook pro on my iPad, palm rejection, and a thin tip (has a clear flat disk that you can see through)- not super cheap, it was ninety dollars, but it does what this guy claims Context will do. And no latency.

  • I’m run away from A to D not for this… useless slave-pen.

  • wow, I really think this is innovative and it will be very useful for people who work in the architecture and design. Brilliant idea.

  • This looks just like features already available on the Samsung Galaxy Note tablet, only with a much finer nib. Drawing on the Note is incredibly natural and accurate, with great pressure sensitivity and instant response. I’m always surprised how people overlook the Galaxy Note. It’s really unmatched in terms of value and quality for design and all sorts of graphic work.