While the Apple Pencil is designed as a sketching tool for creative professionals, MacRumors reader Simon Gladman has created three Swift demo apps that show the accessory being used for three unconventional purposes -- as a weight scale, controlled synthesizer and 3D controller for image editing.

PencilScale


PencilScale, based on Goodman's Plum-O-Meter, is an experimental app that uses a homemade harness to turn the Apple Pencil into an electronic scale that is highly sensitive, but not incredibly accurate.

The experiment works by subtracting the touch's force from a base weight, which is "set as the current touch force when the 'zero' button is pressed," and multiplying it by 140 for a very rough weight in grams.

PencilSynth


PencilSynth is an AudioKit-powered synthesizer that can be controlled by the Apple Pencil depending on its orientation and position.

  • Apple Pencil's horizontal position on the screen controls frequency

  • Apple Pencil's vertical position on the screen controls the modulating multiplier

  • Apple Pencil's altitude angle controls the carrier multiplier

  • Apple Pencil's azimuth angle controls the modulation index

PencilController


PencilController is an experimental image processing app that uses the Apple Pencil as a controller for the fine setting of parameters on Core Image filters.

The demo has three image filtering modes:

  • Hue/Saturation - Apple Pencil's azimuth angle controls hue and its altitude angle controls the saturation

  • Brightness/Contrast - Apple Pencil's altitude angle along North/South controls contrast and the angle along West/East controls brightness

  • Gamma/Exposure - Apple Pencil's altitude angle along North/South controls exposure and the angle along West/East controls gamma

Gladman explains that "the app uses a spring loaded pattern, so the user needs to hold down one of the mode keys in the bottom left of the screen to stay in the filtering mode."

The source code for all three projects is available on GitHub.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Buyer's Guide: iPad Pro (Buy Now)
Related Forum: iPad Accessories

Top Rated Comments

FlexMonkey Avatar
113 months ago
I know this is sounds cool. But come on guys I'm tired of hearing this non-sense use of technology. There is abviously a much better device for such thing and it doesn't cost a lot of money to have one. I'm talking about the scale and somebody did it on iPhone 6S 3D Touch too. It's because you can it doesn't mean you have too.
Hi!

I'm actually the same guy that did the "Plum-O-Meter" for weighing things on an iPhone :)

Of course there are better devices, but I'm interested in experimenting, tinkering and playing then seeing what results. Actually, using the Pencil as a controller works really well for the fine adjustments in the image processing app and the fact the it has five degrees of freedom makes it a unique input device for the audio app.

Without some left field thinking, we'd all be using abacuses!

Cheers!

Simon
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Waxhead138 Avatar
113 months ago
Aren't the phrases "Highly Sensitive" and "Not Incredibly Accurate" a bad combination under pretty much any circumstance?

.....As a side note, those two phrases remind me of almost every girlfriend I've ever had, the first phrase typically causing the second.... ;)
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
teslo Avatar
113 months ago
I know this is sounds cool. But come on guys I'm tired of hearing this non-sense use of technology. There is abviously a much better device for such thing and it doesn't cost a lot of money to have one. I'm talking about the scale and somebody did it on iPhone 6S 3D Touch too. It's because you can it doesn't mean you have too.
yeah, why would anyone ever want to do things?

i, for one, am witnessing exactly what i'd hope would start happening upon the release of a new device: tinkering, feedback, and constructive criticism. i'm sorry you're tired, i hear energy drinks are all the rage nowadays.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Makosuke Avatar
113 months ago
Aren't the phrases "Highly Sensitive" and "Not Incredibly Accurate" a bad combination under pretty much any circumstance?
Nope, from a scientific terminology perspective, that actually makes perfect sense.

Accuracy, scientifically speaking, is how close to the real value a measurement will produce.

Precision (aka sensitivity) is how small of a quantity you can measure, accurately or otherwise.

And repeatability is how close to the same value taking the same measurement at two different times will produce, accurately, precisely, or otherwise.

So: An accurate scale will tell you something weighs 502 grams when it weighs 502 grams. A precise scale will tell you that something weighs 498.93 grams, although it might actually weigh 502.00 grams if the scale is not also accurate. And a repeatable (and precise) scale will tell you that something weighs 498.93 grams every time you weigh it, although if it's not also accurate it might really weigh 502 grams.

This particular "scale", silly or otherwise, will give you a lot of digits of precision on the weight measurement, so it's quite precise. It however isn't calibrated at all, so the accuracy is bad. No idea whether it's repeatable or not.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nagromme Avatar
113 months ago
Think what you could do with 3 pencils! You could control that synthesizer with one, and jam the other 2 in your ears until the racket stops.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
joueboy Avatar
113 months ago
I know this is sounds cool. But come on guys I'm tired of hearing this non-sense use of technology. There is abviously a much better device for such thing and it doesn't cost a lot of money to have one. I'm talking about the scale and somebody did it on iPhone 6S 3D Touch too. It's because you can it doesn't mean you have too.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iPhone 15 Pro Cameras

iPhone 17 Pro Max Will Be First Model to Feature Three 48MP Cameras

Thursday July 11, 2024 12:20 am PDT by
Next year's iPhone 17 Pro Max will feature an upgraded 48-megapixel Tetraprism camera for enhanced photo quality and zoom functionality, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his n-iphone-tetraprism-upgrade-ca62dd37e364">latest investor note published to Medium, Kuo said the key specification change would be a 1/2.6" 48MP CIS sensor, up from the 1/3.1" 12MP sensor expected to be used...
iPhone 16 Pro Front Update Blue

iPhone 16 Pro Rumored to Support 40W Fast Charging and 20W MagSafe

Wednesday July 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will support 40W wired fast charging and 20W MagSafe charging, claims a rumor currently swirling around China. Right now, iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models are capable of up to 27W peak charging speeds with an appropriate USB-C power adapter, while official MagSafe chargers from Apple and authorized third parties can wirelessly charge...
AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

Apple Releases New AirPods Pro 2 Beta Firmware With Support for iOS 18 Features

Tuesday July 9, 2024 11:46 am PDT by
Apple today released a second beta firmware for the AirPods Pro 2, including both the Lightning and USB-C versions. The updated firmware has a build number 7A5244b and it is available to developers at the current time. This is the second firmware update that Apple has released since announcing new AirPods Pro 2 features in June. There are several new features that are coming to the AirPods...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID

iPhone 16 Models Rumored to Have Face ID-Related Design Changes

Tuesday July 9, 2024 9:15 am PDT by
iPhone 16 models coming later this year could have some Face ID-related "design changes," supply chain publication DigiTimes said this week. The original source of this information is British newspaper The Telegraph, which six weeks ago reported that Face ID component supplier Coherent was considering selling or repurposing a manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, a small town in...
orka desktop

MacStadium Releases Free Orka Desktop macOS Virtualization Software

Wednesday July 10, 2024 6:55 am PDT by
Mac cloud services provider MacStadium today unveiled Orka Desktop, a free virtualization tool that allows Mac users to create and manage macOS virtual machines locally via an easy-to-use admin panel. Orka users can create or download custom macOS images locally for their own personal use, or to collaborate with team members using a familiar workflow, versioning, audit, and review controls....