Apple has applied for patents on an advanced stylus, (yes, you heard right,) that will sense movement and provide feedback when it passes specific points on a screen.
The patents, which were announced yesterday by the US Patent & Trademark Office, were filed a few months after the original iPad launch in 2010 and show that Apple is considering potentially adding an iPen to it’s current range of accessories.
An Apple stylus would definitely be a change of direction for the Cupertino electronics giant. Apple’s former CEO Steve Jobs once said of such an accessory: “Who wants a stylus? You have to get them and put them away, you lose them, yuck! Nobody wants a stylus.”
Apple’s patents suggest that the stylus would be able to sense the amount of pressure the user is applying, as well as the angle the stylus is being held. The results could change what the touch screen is displaying to the user. The stylus would also be able to provide feedback to the user, such as vibration, “when the device is over, near or passes the boundary of a window or application.” Apple’s patent says this could be used to “emulate the sensation of moving a pen across a smooth surface while a lower frequency signal may emulate the feel of moving a pen across a rougher surface.”
The same patent shows a speaker embedded into the device that would play different noises, based on user actions. Apple says this could be used to “to simulate the sound of moving a pen or a paintbrush across a piece of paper or a canvas, with the speaker emitting different sounds for emulating a pen or a paintbrush.”
Apple’s second patent, published later the same day, shows a method of incorporating a camera in to a stylus as a means of establishing how the device is moving in relation to display of the touch screen device.
There are currently several styluses made for the iPad by 3rd parties. However, none have the type of functionality that is suggested in Apple’s patents.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note, an iPhone competitor, recently reintroduced the stylus into the smartphone market to mixed reviews.