Apple Researching Stylus Concepts with Optical Tracking and Haptic Feedback

While Steve Jobs famously panned the idea of a stylus for the iPhone at the device's unveiling in January 2007, Apple has continued researching ideas for stylus-based input, if only as part of continued reevaluation of how users interact with their devices and how technology will change those interactions over time. Toward that end, Unwired View highlights a pair of Apple patent applications filed in late 2010 and published today addressing optical and haptic stylus concepts.

Apple's idea for an optical stylus takes advantage of a tiny camera on the tip of the pen that would allow it to track patterns on a device's screen that are invisible to the user's eye. The stylus could also incorporate other sensors such as pressure sensors, accelerometers, and gyroscopes to help determine orientation and movement.

In some embodiments, a stylus is provided with an optical sensor, such as a camera, that is used in determining a location and movement of the stylus relative to a touch screen display of a computing device. It should be appreciated, however, that displays other than touch screens may be implemented in some embodiments. The optical stylus may be configured to transmit the location and movement to the computing device. In some embodiments, the optical stylus may be configured to process and/or filter the location and movement information prior to transmission, whereas in other embodiments, raw data may be transmitted.

apple optical stylus patent
Apple's generic iPhone stylus concept with enlarged view of encoding pattern for tracking movement

Alternatively, Apple suggests that it could incorporate haptic feedback to allow users to gain a tactile feel for the content on a device's screen via a stylus. Apple has researched haptics for quite some time, and the patent application published today describes how a haptic actuator embedded in the stylus could receive signals from a device to help users gain a tactile feel for the context of their onscreen input.

Generally, input devices do not provide haptic feedback to a user in response to interactions with the input device. The user can typically only feel the rigid surface of the touch screen, making it difficult to find icons, hyperlinks, text boxes, or other user-selectable input elements on the display. An input device capable of generating haptic feedback may help a user navigate content displayed on the display screen, and may further serve to enhance the content of various applications by creating a more appealing and realistic user interface. "Haptic feedback" may be any tactile feedback. Examples include forces, vibrations, and/or motions that may be sensed by the user.

apple haptic stylus
Apple's concept for stylus with haptic feedback

There has been essentially no evidence that Apple is seriously looking at incorporating a stylus into its products, but it remains clear that the company is thinking about how such pen-based input could be used in novel ways.

Tag: Patent

Top Rated Comments

ArcaneDevice Avatar
132 months ago
Research it all you want, please don't implement it.
Why not exactly?

If Apple wants to move everyone towards tablets and touchscreens then they will need a stylus. Just like the massive number of professionals Wacom has catered to for decades.

Ah, wait, I said professionals. Silly me.
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jasonxneo Avatar
132 months ago
The best stylus is your finger.
Yes i have to agree with you. However using your finger is not as accurate as a stylus imo. :)
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dangerous Theory Avatar
132 months ago
The best stylus is your finger.
Going to disagree here. Do you think the best pen is your finger dabbed in ink? If I want to write on a digital screen (no doubt this is where technology will take us), I want an accurate stylus that mimics a pen as close as possible. However, I don't get all this haptic feedback BS. If you're going the stylus route (as a very useful accessory) then focus on the pen-like experience, please, Apple!
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mrr Avatar
132 months ago
Please Apple bring on an option for a Stylus !

This can't happen a minute to soon.

Using your finger is like finger painting for a professional artist or designer. Graphics without a Wacom tablet is like gong back to kindergarden.

I am sure that Apple's patents are a way to get around all of Wacom's tablet patents.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Padraig Avatar
132 months ago
The best stylus is your finger.

This is kind of like saying the best cutlery is your hands. Sure they're okay for eating sandwiches etc. but you wouldn't want to use them to tuck into a risotto or a steak.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Padraig Avatar
132 months ago
If you see a stylus, they blew it.

Steve said a lot of things and then proceeded to do the exact opposite. I always find it funny when people quote him like it was gospel.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

widgets ios 16 feature

Gurman: iPhone 14 Pro to Feature Always-On Display Showing iOS 16's New Lock Screen Widgets

Sunday June 26, 2022 7:36 am PDT by
iPhone 14 Pro models are widely expected to feature always-on displays that allow users to view glanceable information without having to tap to wake the screen. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg, Mark Gurman said the feature will include support for iOS 16's new Lock screen widgets for weather, fitness, and more. "Like the Apple Watch, the iPhone 14 Pro will be...
maxresdefault

M2 13-Inch MacBook Pro With 256GB SSD Appears Slower Than Equivalent M1 in Real-World Speed Tests

Monday June 27, 2022 1:57 pm PDT by
Benchmark testing has indicated that the 256GB variant of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with M2 chip offers slower SSD performance than its M1 equivalent, and now real-world stress testing by YouTuber Max Yuryev of Max Tech suggests that the 256GB SSD in the 13-inch MacBook Pro is also underperforming in day-to day-usage. The M2 MacBook Pro with 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM was slower than the M1 MacBook ...
13 inch macbook pro m2 mock feature 2

Base 13-Inch MacBook Pro With M2 Chip Has Significantly Slower SSD Speeds

Sunday June 26, 2022 2:52 pm PDT by
Following the launch of Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Pro with the M2 chip, it has been discovered that the $1,299 base model with 256GB of storage has significantly slower SSD read/write speeds compared to the equivalent previous-generation model. YouTube channels such as Max Tech and Created Tech tested the 256GB model with Blackmagic's Disk Speed Test app and found that the SSD's read and...
m2 mac mini screen feature

Gurman: Apple Planning M2 Pro Mac Mini, New Apple TV With A14 Chip, Revamped HomePod With S8 Chip, and More

Sunday June 26, 2022 6:31 am PDT by
In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter for Bloomberg, Mark Gurman outlined additional M2 Macs on Apple's product roadmap, including new Mac mini models with M2 and M2 Pro chips, new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips, and a new Mac Pro tower with M2 Ultra and "M2 Extreme" chips. Following the M2 series of Macs, Gurman said the first M3 series of...
M2 Pro and Max Feature

Apple's Upcoming M2 Pro Chip for High-End MacBook Pro and Mac Mini Will Reportedly Be 3nm

Monday June 27, 2022 7:31 am PDT by
TSMC will manufacture Apple's upcoming "M2 Pro" and "M3" chips based on its 3nm process, according to Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes. "Apple reportedly has booked TSMC capacity for its upcoming 3nm M3 and M2 Pro processors," said DigiTimes, in a report focused on competition between chipmakers like TSMC and Samsung to secure 3nm chip orders. As expected, the report said TSMC will...
iPhone 11 Pro vs iPhone 14 Pro

iPhone 11 Pro vs. 14 Pro: New Features to Expect if You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday June 27, 2022 11:22 am PDT by
With many customers choosing to upgrade their iPhone every two or three years nowadays, there are lots of iPhone 11 Pro users who might be interested in upgrading to the iPhone 14 Pro later this year. Those people are in for a treat, as three years of iPhone generations equals a long list of new features and changes to look forward to. Below, we've put together a list of new features and...
tesla carplay hack

Tesla Apple CarPlay Hack Updated to Work With Any Tesla Model

Monday June 27, 2022 3:38 am PDT by
Polish developer Michał Gapiński has released a new and improved version of his "Tesla Android Project" which brings Apple's CarPlay experience to more Tesla vehicles than ever before. According to Gapiński, version 2022.25.1 provides "100% functional CarPlay integration for any Tesla," and comes with several new features and bug fixes. The project now supports DRM video playback so that...
2022 back to school apple

Apple Launches 2022 Back to School Offer: Up to $150 Gift Card With Mac or iPad

Friday June 24, 2022 5:08 am PDT by
Apple today launched its annual "Back to School" promotion for college/university students in the United States and Canada. This year's promotion offers a free Apple gift card with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad, rather than free AirPods like last year. Apple is also offering students 20% off AppleCare+ plans during the promotion. Apple is offering a $150 gift card with the purchase ...