During the late Steve Jobs’ time, the CEO and the company were quite popular for their derision of the stylus, as the input stick was back then. Fast-forward to today, not only has Apple bet on the accessory for two of its iPads, it has been toying with ideas to improve the stick to go beyond their limitations. Or particularly the Apple Pencil‘s limitations. The USPTO just published a patent Apple filed back in December 2014 for a stylus that had sensors and electrodes to enable the it to gather touch gestures to be interpreted by the OS or software into appropriate actions.
The stylus depicted in the patent almost looks like a crude Pencil, except for markings showing where the stylus’ electrodes are located. We can imagine those won’t look to conspicuous in a possible final product, considering Apple’s design tastes. The presence of those electrodes, however, are critical as it allows the stylus to gather different types of touches, or even the orientation of the stylus itself, into UI actions.
For example, “sliding” a the fore finger up or down the shaft of the stylus could be interpreted as a scrolling action. Rotating the barrel of the stylus could similarly rotate an on-screen object. A single tap on the stylus’ body could be single tap or click while pressing two fingers could be mapped to a long press and hold or other gestures.
Of course, it is simply a patent and, given Apple has filed for it long before the Apple Pencil came out, it is clear that the company wasn’t able to execute on it yet. However, it does present an interesting future for the stylus and could address one of the criticisms for the device, at least for artists. The Apple Pencil is bereft of any button or alternate method of input, something that styluses from Wacom have. A touch-enabled Pencil would actually turn the tables and would make available more actions and options than any physical button can provide.
VIA: Apple Insider