The Switch is a fantastic little gaming machine, but it’s not built for the same kind of touch input as, say, an iPad Pro. Its plastic screen can handle multitouch, and that’s about it. But one inspired developer is hoping to expand its capabilities with an odd add-on: a stylus that plugs into the headphone jack.
Why? To add pressure sensitivity and use the Switch as a drawing tablet. Colors! is a simple drawing tool available for the Nintendo DS, PS Vita, iOS and Android, but naturally it’d be even better if you could use it with a pressure-sensitive stylus, as seen on high-end drawing tablets from Wacom and others. The creators of the app have started a Kickstarter campaign to make their next version, Colors Live, and its conceptual stylus, into a reality.
It works like this: the SonarPen stylus includes a tiny speaker on the tip that emits sounds above the range of human hearing. When the tip is depressed, the sound is dampened, as detected by a microphone also built into the stylus. This change in sound level, as well as data like pressing the selection button on the stylus, is relayed back to the game via the headphone/microphone jack.
It’s a unique way to expand the Switch’s functionality. That said, I’m not completely sold on it—I’ve seen similar sound-based touchscreen tools, and been less than impressed with their accuracy and precision.
The Kickstarter campaign is live now and funded, with a digital version of the Colors Live app for Switch and the standard SonarPen costing a hair over $41. More expensive bundles include color options for the stylus and access to the beta. The app is expected to be available in August.