emr benefits m

How our pens work

Drawing, writing, and signing on your computer made easy

We all know what it's like to write on paper. It's easy, it's natural, and you've known how to do it since childhood. But while a simple piece of paper can automatically detect things like where you placed your pen and how hard you pressed down, recreating this digitally is far more complex.

This is How We Do It

By combining fine sensors, sophisticated algorithms and ultra-fast data transmissions, Wacom does just that, to deliver a digital pen experience that feels as intuitive and natural as writing, drawing, or signing on paper.

Our patented electro-magnetic resonance (EMR) technology allows our electronic pens to operate without cords or batteries.

How can an electronic pen operate without batteries or a power cord? It's like magic.

Our EMR technology switches back and forth between 2 operating modes many times per second. First, there is the power mode, which is where the sensor creates a magnetic field and sends out a frequency that is picked up by the pen. This transfers energy into the pen wirelessly, like how a tuning fork makes a piano wire move without touching it. Once the pen is energized, it redirects that energy though the pen circuitry as a radio frequency (RF) signal. At that point, the sensor stops sending, and switches over to listening mode. The sensor can then hear the pen that is located above the sensor. By measuring the signal strength at several points along the sensor, we can do the calculations on-the-fly to determine precisely where the pen is located, as well as when the pen tip is pressed down, and how hard it is pressed down.

Some of our pens even have side switches and an eraser that can be activated anytime the pen is near the sensor. The beauty of this technology is that the energy can pass through LCD displays and protective surfaces without the need for any external power sources. This means that no batteries to wear out, or power cables to twist and break.

This technology, combined with our attention to quality, results in the industry's best in accuracy and durability.

What this means for capturing signatures, is that we can place a tough glass surface on top of our displays, so that even after hundreds of thousands of signatures, our signature pads still look like new and operates flawlessly. Since there are no batteries in the pen or power cords connected to the pen that could twist and break, Wacom signature pads are maintenance free.

Using our interactive pen displays to draw diagrams, or write annotations is easy with a pen that works directly on the screen exactly as you would expect it to. Thanks your natural eye-hand coordination, you move the pen to the precise point you want it to be, and the cursor moves directly under it, even while the pen hovers over the surface. When you press the tip of the pen down on the screen, the computer recognizes this as a mouse click. A double tap of the pen is the same as a double click. When using an application that supports drawing tools, the Wacom pen allows you to draw exactly as you would on paper. Nothing could be easier to use. And since your eye guides the pen directly, operating your software with the pen is fast and easy.

We have been making electronic pen devices for a long time in an effort to make the digital world feel more like the real world. Once you pick up a Wacom pen, you'll feel it for yourself.

How does Wacom's EMR technology stack up against other types of pen input?

Many alternative pen technologies used in signature pads and pen displays, are based on finger touch technology. Touchscreen technologies such as resistive, capacitive, and optical are used for pen input devices, but they were designed for the human finger, so they have limitations when used to capture pen data.

Compare Wacom EMR versus:

Compare Wacom EMR versus resistive technology:

A resistive sensor consists of a sandwich of two conductive coated plastic films. This sandwich makes up the top layer on the signature pad or display. When you press down on the top surface with a finger or a pointed plastic stylus, the electrical resistance of the sandwich changes. The variation in distance between the two plastic layers allows for the detection of the pen location and pressure intensity.

EMR pen input from Wacom offer significant advantages over resistive technology:

  • More Robust: Resistive input devices require a flexible, plastic surface, which quickly becomes scratched, even with normal use. If the resistive surface is worn significantly, the device may cease to capture pen data. Wacom signature pads and pen displays with EMR technology utilize a hardened glass protective surface that is highly resistant to scratches, and the pen will continue to operate even if the surface area is damaged. This results in a very long, useful life, with a screen that is sharp, clear, and easy to read.
  • 100% Palm Rejection: Since resistive technologies respond to any form of pressure, the user can accidentally activate screen buttons or keys with the knuckles, fingers, or palm. Wacom EMR pen input reacts only to electrical signals from the pen, so no accidental activation is possible, so our pen technology inherently provides 100% palm rejection.
  • Better Accuracy: Resistive input technology provides much less resolution (number of datapoints collected per given distance). In addition, pressure sensitivity from a resistive touch sensor is not linear (the pressure readings in the center of the sensor are different than near the edges). Wacom EMR technology provides very high pen resolution (2540 lines per inch), and the pressure sensitivity curve is much more linear, meaning that pressure readings taken at all points on the surface are much more consistent compared to resistive technology. This results in a consistent capture of signature and pressure data that is much more representative of how a user really signs, draws, or writes.

Compare Wacom EMR versus capacitive technology:

A capacitive sensor measures the difference in capacitance when your finger or a special stylus presses on the surface. The materials used to measure the change in capacitance is usually a special, traces of a transparent, conductive coating that is applied to the surface. To add pen input to a capacitive touch screen, the tip of the pen needs to be made of a rubber-like material that behaves like a human finger in terms of capacitance. The large-tipped stylus products are commonly used with iPads and similar tablets. Another method for adding pen input to a capacitive screen, is to use a pen that has a cord attached to the chassis of the device to provide an electrical reference signal.

EMR pen input from Wacom offer significant advantages over capacitive technology:

  • Fine tip pen: Wacom EMR pen technology features pen nibs that are very thin, to most closely approximate the writing and signing behavior of an ink pen. Most capacitive pens use a thick, wide pen tip that is distracting to the user, as it does not feel like a real ink pen.
  • 100% palm rejection. Since capacitive input is a touch technology, users can accidentally click on buttons and keys on the touchscreen. Wacom EMR technology eliminates this risk completely, as only input from the pen is recognized by the sensor in the Wacom product.
  • Better Accuracy: Resistive input technology provides much less resolution (number of datapoints collected per given distance). In addition, pressure sensitivity from a resistive touch sensor is not linear (the pressure readings in the center of the sensor are different than near the edges). Wacom EMR technology provides very high pen resolution (2540 lines per inch), and the pressure sensitivity curve is much more linear, meaning that pressure readings taken at all points on the surface are much more consistent compared to resistive technology. This results in a consistent capture of signature and pressure data that is much more representative of how a user really signs, draws, or writes.
  • Wireless: Capacitive devices which use cords to distinguish pen input from finger input rely on this electrical connection. If this wire twists and breaks, then the pen will not function and the device is compromised in the field. Additionally, to prevent cords from breaking, they are often very stiff and thick, which interferes with the natural signing or drawing process. Wacom EMR pens do not suffer from these shortcomings, and the lightweight, flexible, nylon pen tether prevents pen loss and does not interfere with the freedom-of-movement of the user. Since no electrical signals pass through the Wacom tether, the pen and device will continue to operate normally even if you cut the tether completely. This results in a very durable solution.

Compare Wacom EMR versus electro-magnetic technology:

Some manufacturers of pen input devices use electro-magnetic technology which allows them to use a protective glass surface. However, most of these pen devices require a dedicated power source for their pen. The two choices available for powering the pen are batteries or power cords.

  • Wireless: If an electro-magnetic pen wire twists and breaks, then the pen will not function and the device is compromised in the field. Additionally, to prevent cords from breaking, they are often very stiff and thick, which interferes with the natural signing or drawing process. Wacom EMR pens do not suffer from these shortcomings, and the lightweight, flexible, nylon pen tether prevents pen loss and does not interfere with the freedom-of-movement of the user. Since no electrical signals pass through the Wacom tether, the pen and device will continue to operate normally even if you cut the tether completely. This results in a very durable solution.
  • Battery-free: Wacom EMR pens never need batteries, as they are powered wirelessly from the magnetic field generated by the sensor. This means that a Wacom EMR pen will not be subject to downtime in the field, or require costly consumables to manage. The Wacom EMR pen is truly maintenance fee.

Compare Wacom EMR versus Optical technology:

Many pen displays on the market utilize a pen and touch technology that utilizes infra-red light as the input method. This is typically implemented with light sources and mirrors around the edges of the screen that flood the surface with infra-red light, which is invisible to the human eye. When a finger or a stylus object breaks the plane of infra-red light, optical sensors recognize this dark spot, or shadow in the light field, and that data is used to provide input data. This works well for a touch screen, but the size of the stylus tip needs to be quite large in order to create a shadow large enough to be sensed. So some manufacturers add an electronic light source to the pen itself, and by switching from finger mode to pen mode, the pen light is recognized as the sole light source, and the position is calculated.

  • Fine tip pen: Wacom EMR pen technology features pen nibs that are very thin, to most closely approximate the writing and signing behavior of an ink pen. Many optical pens use a thick, wide pen tip that is distracting to the user, as it does not feel like a real ink pen.
  • 100% palm rejection. Since optical input is a touch technology, users can accidentally click on buttons and keys on the touchscreen. Wacom EMR technology eliminates this risk completely, as only input from the pen is recognized by the sensor in the Wacom product.
  • Wireless: If a powered, optical pen wire twists and breaks, then the pen will not function and the device is compromised in the field. Additionally, to prevent cords from breaking, they are often very stiff and thick, which interferes with the natural signing or drawing process. Wacom EMR pens do not suffer from these shortcomings, and the lightweight, flexible, nylon pen tether prevents pen loss and does not interfere with the freedom-of-movement of the user. Since no electrical signals pass through the Wacom tether, the pen and device will continue to operate normally even if you cut the tether completely. This results in a very durable solution.
  • Flat Bezel: Since an optical display must provide a light source and reflective mirrors over the surface of the screen, the plastic bezel that surrounds the screen must be raised, which looks like a framed picture. A raised bezel is not comfortable for the users and it may be difficult to operate the optical pen along the edges or in the corners. Wacom EMR technology embeds the sensor underneath of the LCD display, so this allows our signature pads and pen displays to have a flat front bezel that is both smooth for comfort, and flat for ease-of-use

How can we
help you?


  • Why Electronic Handwritten Signature

    Learn more

  • Downloads

    For product data sheets and the latest drivers for your Wacom signature pad, click below.

    Downloads

  • Contact Us

    Learn more

Back to top
A+ A-