When you think of Apple, you probably think of fancy technology. But you might also think innovation and creativity. Those two things together are what brings you that incredible technology. Which is why, it’s not surprising at all, that Apple has filed a patent for the next iteration of their Pencil stylus. But it’s not your typical pencil. In fact, the company is describing it as an input device that doesn’t need to make contact with a touchscreen, or any surface for that matter. Think pointing your finger in the air and writing. Crazy, huh?
You’re not wrong. If this becomes a thing, you could be using that stylus to write, sketch and draw in the air. The idea is to use motion and orientation sensors to track the path of the stylus as you draw, so there’s no need for a solid surface. How does it work exactly? Essentially, camera sensors mounted on top of a laptop or other device, which would then record the scribbles. This is all tracked through space.
The application title, “Content Creation Using Electronic Input Device on Non-Electronic Surfaces,” suggests that the same motion-tracking technology could be deployed to enable users to write on normal paper as well. I reiterate my earlier point of how crazy this sounds. Long gone are the days of having to use a pencil. In fact, I had to fill out a paper form this morning using a pen and I kept checking my watch to see what year it was. It was a brutal process and an extreme waste of time. It took so much longer to fill out a paper form, compared to how quickly I can input some information online. I’ve lost my ability to write by hand, essentially. Plus, I had to make sure that my calculations were correct. Again – what year is it?
But this stylus idea is insane, in my opinion. Especially when we start to apply it to paper. I can understand the concept of transferring information onto some kind of device. To me, that makes sense. But I can’t wrap my brain around the ability to have the stylus write on paper for you. Another alternative input method mentioned by Apple engineers in the patent would be to use a force-sensitive nib at the tip of the stylus to record strokes and taps. The freedom of being able to move the pen around in 3D space would let users work on 3D designs as well as 2D drawings and sketches, suggests the documentation.
The application shows the stylus being used to input shapes, 3D objects, and even handwritten notes into a laptop, so this is potentially a device with a lot of different capabilities. Feedback could even be passed back to the stylus in the form of buzzes or LED lights, based on the patent application Apple has filed.This is just an application at this point, so this might not be the final product. That said, it would give Apple a way to push past its competitors I a new way. Microsoft has their Surface Pen, and Samsung has their S Pen (mostly for use with the note). Which means, Apple needs to come up with something truly innovative. A regular stylus is great, but pushing the envelope a bit will certainly give Apple an edge.