It looks like Apple plans to reimagine the capabilities of the stylus.
The company filed a patent for a stylus that works on any surface, not just touch-sensitive displays. It looks like it could even allow users to draw in midair.
The application describes a pen that’s capable of being monitored by a force sensor located in the tip of the stylus. The pen can also be tracked using built-in motion and orientation sensors, a camera and an “electromagnetic or sound-based triangulation scheme”. Essentially, it sounds like future Apple devices could feature multiple sensors to allow them to track the company’s new stylus in 3D space.
According to the filing, the pen is capable of drawing 3D text and drawings as well, allowing it to act like a 3D doodler of sorts. The patent was originally filed back in July 2016, but was just published in late January, which isn’t unusual in the patent space.
The Apple Pencil, the company’s current stylus, only works with various iterations of the iPad Pro, including the most recently released 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Samsung also offers the S Pen with its Galaxy Note and Microsoft sells the Surface Pen for its various Surface devices, including even the pricey Surface Studio.
It’s interesting that this patent looks at the concept of a stylus from a three dimensional perspective. While I’ve never found much use for a stylus given my lack of artistic ability, I can see designers finding the ability to create an object in midair very useful.
Of course, going hands-on with the concept could tell a different story, especially since the tactile sensation of drawing or creating a design is gone when you aren’t actually creating on a physical surface.
As always, it’s important to note that just because a patent has been filed and published, it doesn’t mean that an actual product will stem from it.