Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Human Interface Device

I’ve been studying Human Interface Devices (HID) lately and getting to know their features and benefits. [As an FYI, in an Ultra Mobile PC the most significant HID is the Touch Screen.] So in getting to know HID better I have managed to also understand it, and it appears there are some real benefits that I felt were worth mentioning as they are not entirely obvious:
  • Better ink - w/o the HID driver the pen looks like a mouse and data is sampled 30 times second, a HID compliant driver will allow data to be collected at roughly 100 samples per second. To clarify this a little you might consider a HID-less device sort of having a sticky cursor. It tends to sit on, or on top of, wherever you leave it.
  • With the HID driver the cursor gets a little spring in its step and tends to float away from an object in a parallel direction. It does not pull away but if you could disect a Touch Screen you could almost picture a cursor floating above Windows (with a HID Driver) and sitting right on top of Windows (without a HID Driver). Whilst this is not like an Electro Magnetic (EM) enabled Tablet PC (with Active Digitizer) - as there is no hover coordinate - it does have some distinct benefits.
  • For one the Tablet Input Panel (TIP) tends to float near the text input boxes, and, secondly the cursor will hover over a hyperlink or button without inherently pressing it.
  • Another benefit of having a HID Driver on you UMPC is the additional data that is collected by the Touch Controller. The Touchscreen is connected to the Motherboard of a computer via a Touch Controller (and subsequently communicates to the Operating System via a Driver). So if you take into account that an EM Active Digitizer will record pressure sensitivity and cursor jumping. It is hard to imagine this possible on a touchscreen but with a properly installed HID Compliant Driver it is.

Microsoft provides a document for OEMs that stipulates “actual” usages that need to be present in HID. Lets take a look at some of them:

  • In an Active Digitizer the HID will communicate X and Y coordinates, Tip switch (pen movements) and In-range (the Hover). As an option (to the OEM) it can also communicate Pressure, Tilt, Invert and receive information from a Barrel button (button on pen).
  • In a Touch Screen enabled device the HID will communicate X and Y coordinates, Tip switch (pen movements) and In-range too. The last one, In-range, I guess is the most crucial for us UMPC lovers. It is the piece of information that defines a usable experience, versus a barely tolerable one.

So in writing this post I want to give you some food for thought around why we keep bring HID up all the time. It is one of those acronyms that sounds uberly geekish and absurdly nerd-ish however it is also something that we should demand from our manufacturers. With HID Drivers a UMPC can start to imitate an EM enabled Tablet, without it your pen and touch experience is quite literally stuck! So when I hear about new touch screen devices like The Shift or others, all I am suggesting is that you ask the manufacturer: "to show you the HID Driver?!?!"

For more information on HID go here, or visit here.


CTitanic said...

I actually was expeting you to tell us what to do to get the HID in our Q1s. I know that microsoft is actually using their Generic HID Driver. But what to do to have that driver installed correctly. That´s the Question. If we unintall touchkit Vista recognize the screen as a mouse not has a touchscreen so there is something that MS changed in somewhere to change that.

I contacted eGalax and they are working in a USB Touch Screen Driver. I even tested a beta version of it but they still have problem with the screen calibration in that driver.

Elo said...

This is a great post Hugo. It does clear up things a bit.

It also reminds me why I love active digitizers so much... Hear that HTC ?

Hugo Ortega said...

Hi Frank,

I think you want this so badly that you fail to read between the lines. I can't tell you how, when or where to get the HID Driver. All I can do is post "warm fuzzy" scenarios involving the HID.

I'm doing all I can to get you guys info. Be patient, you will get your HID.

Hugo Ortega said...

Hi Elo,

Thanks again for a great comment. I think you understood that EM Active Digitzers are still the best input method for pen.

Stay well!

HTC, I'm not sure what it will come with other than they have stated Touch Screen. (That doesn't mean it won't have an EM too)

JKK said...

htc shift is not a tablet pc... it's umpc. So no active digitizer...

umpc users want to use fingers, not special pens.

It will be soft touchscreen like all new umpc.

And i really hope that tablet guys don't influence oems to make bad calls like amtek with the t700.

t770 is now soft touch, like most users want.

Jim C (fomer anonymous asking about Q!P review) said...

In reference to JKK comments--can you have a "soft" touch umpc that has a HID driver? Then I assume writing would be pretty good as long as you keep the hand off the screen and you would have the TIP advantages Hugo mentioned. Have I got this figured correctly? I hope so because that gives me some hopes that the upcoming soft touch vista UMPCS will give a pretty good writing experience if you can learn to keep hands off screen while writing. I want a umpc and a note taking machine!!!

So does the Q1P with vista preinstalled have the HID and is my statement above true of it? Wondering minds want to know.

And I am ready to ask about these new umpcs--do you have HID drivers--problem is that I don't know to whom I address such questions!!

You're the best at explaining this stuff to non-techies (just tech user lovers) like me, I appreciate the information, Hugo.

Hugo Ortega said...


Great to see you join in again. Shift is UMPC but they are all what I define as a "Tablet" form-factor. So with your comment all I can suggest is that the war of Active/Touch continues.

Nonetheless, I will always push to keep the focus on the Pen (there is only so much finger pushing you need to do before it makes sense to write again). UMPC - as you define - is the perfect pen and paper replacement and I can't think of the last time I wanted to navigate paper with my finger. LOL. My Ideal is both, similar to the X61 Lenovo, but with a lighter weighter "touch" than that.

Great comment.

Elo said...


Of course touch is what a lot of us want. But you cant substitute AD, its really the best pen input and quite frankly, pen is too important to be so quickly discarded as unnecessary.

Moreover, I don't know what the trouble is with AD in an UMPC like you make it sound. It IS possible to have both like the Lenovo devices have demonstrated.

Jim C said...

Hugo---here is a piece of info I got on TufTab and differences within HID drivers. The pres of Tabletkiosk sent it based on an inquiry. Love to see what you make of it:

"The eo TufTab v7112XT does have HID drivers, however the sampling rate needs to be reduced to 10ms (the minimum) to achieve optimum handwriting experience. This will give you an experience better then the eo i72XX series but not as good as the eo v7110 series. This unit has been designed for more direct finger touch input in control system applications, then in pure tablet PC applications."

I am certainly of your mind on the necessity of the pen on a umpc and the 7inchers being the perfecdt notetaking machine. So, sorry to be thick, but what is JKK talking about with "AD" and the pen. I don't know what AD is.

Hugo Ortega said...

Cheers Elo, I'm afraid I'm with you on this (what's the big deal). I need AD (Active Digitizer) and Soft Touch. That's my point.

Hi Jim C,

Thanks for your suport, enthusiasm and thoughts. I am a strong believer that this blog is essential to your growth and I welcome the opportunity to share in that.

AD, is Active Digitzer, and it relates to the Electro Magnetic boards shipped inside traditional Tablet PC. The benefit of these devices is that they allow much nicer sampling rates (crisper handwriting) and a hover coordinate (X,Y and Z). The Z coordinate sits about an inch off the screen and allows users to navigate without using touching the screen.

The Touch Screen has massive benefits for navigation but is very poor for the input of pen. HID, I'm afraid I have to tell you, does not address this. HID only allows for some extra information to be captures like Tip switch (i.e. pen movements). It is almost silly to mention this becasue it is not a floating coordinate like the Z coordinate on a Hover but is does allow software developers to better utilize the cursor.

A samsung Q1P with HID and Vista properly installed (like mine) does not allow you to lean on the glass an write. The Tablet Kiosk comment properly outlines this by letting you knwo that a HID is available but it does not substantially improve the Pen experiene, only marginally. The way I've been addressing the issue is this: "if you need to use the pen for handwriting then you need to get an EM AD Tablet or at least a UMPC that has a heavier weighted touch screen (and HID). If you want to purely navigate with the finger and eliminate the pen from your life (like JKK) then get a lighter weighted Touch Screen (and HID).

The point is that the HID is the magic that makes the cursor aware it is moving around on a Human Interface Device (HID). With the HID Driver the cursor will not be so stubborn, for e.eg on HID-less device, if I close a Window and there is a second Windo open underneath the one I jsut closed, then the cursor might even clost the second Window. This is becasue there is nothing telling it that pressure has moved away from it (the cursor). With HID Driver installed the cursor would know that the finger has left the screen and that it is only the one Window you wanted to close. This to me is the point of HID and HID-less. There are massive implications to productivity.

How's that!!! [Hugo]

Anonymous said...

Hugo, I think this ultimately gets down to what do you want and what will you pay. I don't expect my Q1p to act like tablet that costs 2 or 3 times as much. These are first generation machines that offer a lot of value for the money though. I've been through the same process with Apple Newtons starting with a Model 100 up through a 2100. Were they perfect, no, but they did allow me to do things that I needed to do efficiently and quickly. Bring us some more UMPC successes as you so enjoyably do. Go Gators

Charlie Thomas

Hugo Ortega said...

Cheers Charlie,
Great comment. Hopefully you see we are on the same page - it's horses for courses really. Where I am wanting this to go is )don't lose the pen) and (keep light weighted touch). Is that so hard! LOL.

WRT to more successes I guess I keep forgetting people think I have an "S" embossed on my chest...I'll be right back with more successes soon. Ooops. :-)

uczmeg said...

How is it that I can lean on the screen of my Fujitsu P1510 but not on my Q1?

The P1510 only has a touch screen not an AD.

Is it just good drivers? I have to admit I was very impressed when I found this out!

Jim C said...

So if I want a 7 inch UMPC with good writing performance---including both present units and announced units---the only ones that are possible or envisioned right now are the R2H and V7110 and none with Vista (and the good handwriting recong features).

Thanks for the info, Hugo.

Geez--seems like someone besides me would want to good notetaking umpc with Vista on it.

Hugo Ortega said...


Great comment. It tells me that my message is getting heard. The truth behind this whole dilemma is not the HID as much as it is the HID + the Touch Screen. You see, not all Touch Screens are the same. Your P1510, and P1610, run a specifically heavy weigted Touch screen that favors the pen. If you look at the comment below yours (Jim C) he is alsi getting the picture. If you favour Pen then you need to be also willing to get to know the HID and Touchscreen features and benefits. In this market V7110 and R2H.

The HID Driver actually assists the lighter weighted touchscreens more so than the heavier weighted ones. In your case on the P1510 it is the combination of both that makes it rock for pen and (but sucks for finger). :-)

Great job Team UberTablet!

Hugo Ortega said...

Hi Jim C,

You're doing great mate! Well done. I meant to link to this video in my last comment but it sounds like you already saw it. I can't wait to read HimC.blogspot.com!

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