Apple Invents Touch-Sensitive Stylus, Mobile That Knows Which Hand You're Using

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Apple has submitted a patent application for a next-generation stylus with a touch-sensitive body (via Apple Insider).

Details of the invention were published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today under the title "Stylus with touch sensor", describing an input device with an array of capacitive touch sensors along the instrument's body.

Stylus patent
The sensors determine the position of the user's fingers and this information can be interpreted as gestures to control aspects of the user interface on the display device.

In some versions, electrodes are installed around the body of the stylus to improve the accuracy of touch detection, including single- and multi-touch gestures.

Apple claims that the sensor design is such that it can detect when the user is rotating the stylus based on the location of two fingers. This data can then be used to perform functions like rotating a virtual object on the display, selecting a brush size in a drawing app, or changing a zoom level.

Stylus patent
Motion gestures are also described in the application. Running a finger up or down the stylus body could control UI window scrolling, for instance. Meanwhile, support for force gestures enables the user to, say, squeeze the stylus to invoke virtual buttons on screen, or increase drawing precision by tightening grip, for instance.

While Apple's idea for a touch-sensitive stylus is impressive in concept, in practice it would likely be a highly challenging technological undertaking, given the variability in the way users grip pens as well as differences in hand size. Whether Apple plans to use the invention in a future consumer product like the Apple Pencil remains to be seen.

Handedness detection patent
Another Apple patent application was also published on Thursday, called "Electronic devices with hand detection circuitry", which describes how special sensors on an iPhone-like device could distinguish between left- and right-handed use, or "handedness".

The ambidextrous invention details how motion sensors could be used to detect rotation and movement, and inform the position of virtual buttons and icons displayed on-screen to increase ease of reach.

The invention harks back to Apple's introduction of the Reachability feature for iPhones with 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screens, in which a double tap on the home button shifts the screen content downwards to bring it within thumb's reach.

Tag: patent

Top Rated Comments

dannyyankou Avatar
60 months ago
Cool, this would be a good upgrade to the Apple Pencil which had patents dating back to 2010 (just saying that in case people comment about Steve Jobs not wanting a stylus).
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This is the Apple that addressed the competition "Yuck"?

Comparing styluses from 2007 to today is silly. Smartphones with touchscreens back then required a stylus. The iPad Pro doesn't require a stylus but it's a fantastic tool for artists and designers.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
I7guy Avatar
60 months ago

This is the sort of competition that Jobs was deriding:



...you needed the telescopic toothpick because the icons on screen were too small for fingers - especially with the rubbish resistive touchscreen.

That said, I'm not sure what Jobs would have made of an Apple Pencil sticking at right angles out of an iPad to charge, with the cap and female-female lightning adapter long lost down the back of the sofa of time...

You mean for the 15 seconds you plug it in?
[doublepost=1466693662][/doublepost]

Why does Apple always overlook the simplest, most important points, before thy go off on bells and whistles? You know what happens when you use the back of a Microsoft Stylus? It erases. It also clips to the side of the tablet. And just having a simple button on the side would streamline so many tasks...

It's not as sexy, but I feel like Apple needs a dedicated division that focuses solely on getting the basic functionality right - streamlined, simple, beautiful, USEFUL. Then they can add superfluous complications all they want, so they can say it's more sophisticated than their competitors.

This wasn't an issue in the old days, because the people who made Apple products also used them, so they could see flaws in basic functionality.

The sp4 pencil is also not as good as the iPad Pro pencil.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
theluggage Avatar
60 months ago

This is the Apple that addressed the competition "Yuck"?

This is the sort of competition that Jobs was deriding:



...you needed the telescopic toothpick because the icons on screen were too small for fingers - especially with the rubbish resistive touchscreen.

That said, I'm not sure what Jobs would have made of an Apple Pencil sticking at right angles out of an iPad to charge, with the cap and female-female lightning adapter long lost down the back of the sofa of time...

Attachment Image
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iTom17 Avatar
60 months ago
Can't innovate anymore, my ass
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
I7guy Avatar
60 months ago

15 seconds only gives you 30 mins charge - what if you want to fully charge it and haven't got the fiddly adapter to use it with a lightning cable... or what if you're taking a break and want to top up your iPad at the same time?


Maybe - it terms of performance - but where's the traditional Apple attention to detail?

Plug on the end makes it hyper-vulnerable when plugged in (even 15 seconds is 15 seconds of an accident waiting to happen) and rules out an "eraser" function.
Cap to lose and f-f lightning adapter to lose (why couldn't the adapter built into the cap?)
Even the Apple-made cases don't seem to feature pen storage.
Oh, yes, and its round so it can roll off tables (e.g. when its been put down on a table because there was nowhere else to store it). Even a regular pen clip would (a) stop it rolling and (b) let you store it in a shirt/jacket pocket.
Why weren't the Pencil and Smart Connector designed to be compatible - directly or via an optional pen-holder - so you could store & charge?

It's 15 seconds for a 30 minute charge, and for that is pretty cool. Don't want to use the to use that port them don't. I see no down side or hyper vulnerability.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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