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The ultimate in drawing

Hiroshi Munakata
Product Engineering Department

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What is the Intuos series?

The Intuos series consists of the Intuos Pro, which is a model change from the Intuos 5, and the Intuos, which is a model change from the previous pen tablet, the Bamboo. With the Intuos Pro designed for professional use and the Intuos intended for lighter use, we consider this Intuos product line to be aimed at people who want quality in their graphics. I have been working on the development of the hardware for these pen tablets (specifically, the tablet display) ever since I joined the company in 2000.

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Intuos and me

The first generation Intuos was released just before I joined Wacom. I had been interested in drawing and graphics since my school days and had also used pen tablets. However, I never imagined that I would later join Wacom and be involved in the development of pen tablets and this latest Intuos, the Intuos Pro.

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Changes and evolution leading up to Intuos Pro

If you look at the history of this Intuos Pro, you will see that it represents a significant change on its predecessors. Not only has its appearance changed, but the functions and capabilities have also changed quite a lot. The biggest change is the improvement of the pen pressure sensitivity. The pressure sensitivity of the first generation Intuos was 1024, but this was doubled to 2048 in Intuos4 and beyond. The ability to read changes in pen pressure with twice the sensitivity allowed us to take the pen tip's power of expression to a completely different level.

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Intuos requirements

The Intuos series had to deliver more than just a different pen pressure sensitivity. The evolution from Intuos4 to Intuos5 and then on to Intuos Pro had to support changes in the world of graphics, changes in technology and changes in what was expected of the Intuos brand. To put in bluntly, the level of graphics was improving on an annual basis, so we had to be continually raising the bar in terms of our targets. We are continually striving to improve the tactile writing sensation of the Intuos products, their ease of use over long periods and their operability. However, that process was never smooth.

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The hidden side of evolution

The improvement of pen table performance requires a change in something that is not visible to users. For example, if you want to double the pen pressure sensitivity, you need to double the amount of data that is being handled. However, increasing the amount of data being handled also increases the processing time. And increased processing time will have a negative impact on the tactile writing experience, which is obviously unacceptable. The current IC chip would be unable to quickly process increased data. This means that we have to start to develop the IC chip from scratch.

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Performance and space

Speaking of invisible things, the fight for space is also tough. Space inside the Intuos tablets is limited, especially in the small and medium sizes. The electronic circuit that drives the high performance has to be embedded into this small space. The designers and structural engineers try to find a balance between design, performance and cost, as they trade millimeters of space with each other. It is a territorial battle and also an enjoyable puzzle. However, it is also extremely hard work.

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Expressing yourself on a tablet terminal

Pen products, such as the Intuos Creative Stylus that enables pen pressure sensitivity on an iPad, are based on various technologies. The most difficult part was probably the tip of the pen. In order to create a tablet pen tip that delivered an excellent drawing experience and that could also withstand the rigors of daily writing, we needed to select materials that were both durable and sensitive. The final product was created after we had investigated each and every aspect of the pen tip, including its softness, thickness and design.

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Developers take pleasure from creators' works

Developers naturally take great pleasure in seeing the works that have been made using products that we have developed. It makes us really happy. My pleasure would be doubled if I could actually see the place where these works are being made using Intuos Pro. The fact that creators are making fantastic works with tools that we have developed is really hugely encouraging for us. I feel happy that I put the effort in, that my efforts have been rewarded and that I managed to create this sort of tool.

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In pursuit of the ultimate tactile drawing sensation

Our challenge for the future is to achieve a tactile drawing sensation with the pen tablet that replicates the feeling of drawing on paper.It is impossible to quantify the ease of drawing or the tactile drawing experience, because they appear to be influenced by subtle sensatory factors. We hope that Intuos Pro can bring this pursuit of the ultimate drawing experience even closer to digital realization.

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