Future Apple Pencil Could Have Sensor to Sample Colors From the Real World

Apple is exploring new Apple Pencil technology that could allow the device to sample colors from the real world to use in digital art, drawings, edits, and more, according to an Apple patent application published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office this week.

Apple Pencil Color Picker
Titled "Computer System With Color Sampling Stylus," the patent describes a computer stylus that "may have a color sensor."

The color sensor would be equipped with several photodetectors able to measure light for different color channels, which would let it detect and sample a color from a real world object, like a flower.

The stylus could also be equipped with a light to make it easier for the photodetectors to accurately determine a color, and the rest of the patent describes an Apple Pencil-like design with an elongated body, a tip, and an opposing end, with the tip able to work with a touch-sensitive display.

Apple says the color sensor functionality could be located at the end of the stylus, at the tip, or coupled to the tip through a light guide.

applepatentcolorsensor
With this kind of technology, ‌Apple Pencil‌ users would be able to do something like hold the ‌Apple Pencil‌ against an object in the real world, with the ‌Apple Pencil‌ reading the color. It could be used for photorealistic paintings or just sampling of unique colors from grass, plants, existing art, and so much more.

According to the patent, the stylus would detect the color and then put it in a color palette in a drawing program, where the color could be assigned to a brush. Apple also suggests that color sensor could perhaps be used for other purposes such as calibrating displays, calibrating printers, making health-related measurements, and identifying paint colors for home projects, which would make the ‌Apple Pencil‌ even more versatile.

Optical color sensors like this already exist and have been used in various ways. In fact, we've tested a simple, rudimentary optical color sensor in the Sphero Specdrums, a product meant to turn color into sound. This product includes a little finger ring that can be tapped against real world objects to make sounds based on the color it senses, but Apple's implementation would presumably be much more precise.

Apple patents all kinds of different technologies, some of which seem plausible to implement and others that are quite fantastical. There's never any guarantee that Apple's patents will be used for real products, and in fact, most patents are for technologies that never get released.

For that reason, there's no word on whether Apple actually plans to add a color sensor to the ‌Apple Pencil‌, or if this is simply an idea that's never going to make it out of the possibilities phase.

Top Rated Comments

SamGabbay Avatar
27 weeks ago
Now that's freaking awesome.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AngerDanger Avatar
27 weeks ago


can't wait to try it with a chameleon... ?

I can do you one better, mate…



Attachment Image
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AceFernalld Avatar
27 weeks ago


can't wait to try it with a chameleon... ?

Error 404: Color Not Found
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yaxomoxay Avatar
27 weeks ago
can't wait to try it with a chameleon... ?
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nfl46 Avatar
27 weeks ago
I gotta admit: that’s pretty cool.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Doctor Q Avatar
27 weeks ago
This feature could be especially helpful for color blind users like me. Since I can't identify most colors visually, I do a lot sampling/copying/pasting of colors, or looking them up and specifying them by their RGB values. Being able to grab a color and digitize it physically would be super useful.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iphone 5s black slate

Images of Unreleased iPhone 5s in Black and Slate Shared Online

Sunday January 17, 2021 9:47 am PST by
Twitter user @DongleBookPro has today shared images of a prototype iPhone 5s in an unreleased Black and Slate color. The iPhone 5s was launched in September 2013. The device featured Touch ID, a 64-bit processor, and a True Tone LED flash for the first time. Other new features included a five-element lens with an f/2.2 aperture, a 15 percent larger camera sensor, Burst Mode, and Slo-Mo...
iP12 charge airpods feature 2

Hidden iPhone 12 Hardware Feature Could Still be Unlocked

Thursday January 14, 2021 2:51 am PST by
All iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models purportedly have a hidden reverse wireless charging feature, according to an FCC filing. The feature has not yet been activated, but could yet be unlocked for an upcoming Apple accessory. The FCC filing suggests that iPhone 12 models contain the hardware for Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) to accessories: In addition to being able to be charged by a...
google maps detailed street level e1611052089473

Google Maps Gains Enhanced Street-Level Detail in Four Major Cities

Tuesday January 19, 2021 2:34 am PST by
Google Maps has quietly been updated to include significantly more detailed street-level information in a handful of key cities around the world. Upon zooming in, Google's maps for Central London, Tokyo, San Francisco, and New York now benefit from shapes and widths that match the scale of roads more accurately. Meanwhile, enhanced graphical representations of sidewalks, crosswalks,...
macbook pro flexgate

Apple Extends 13-Inch MacBook Pro Backlight Repair Program

Sunday January 17, 2021 10:31 am PST by
Apple this week extended its worldwide 13-inch MacBook Pro Display Backlight Service Program, authorizing coverage for eligible notebooks for up to five years after the original purchase date or up to three years after the start date of the program, whichever is longer. The previous cutoff was four years after the original purchase date. Apple launched the program on May 21, 2019 after...
lg wing

LG Considering Exit From Smartphone Business, Halts LCD Production for iPhone

Wednesday January 20, 2021 5:38 am PST by
LG is considering exiting the smartphone business entirely amid declining shipments and accrued losses of $4.5 billion over the past five years (via The Korea Herald). LG CEO Kwon Bong-Seok cautioned staff earlier today that the company is re-evaluating its presence in the smartphone industry: Since the competition in the global market for mobile devices is getting fiercer, it is about...
airpods max sim ejector

AirPods Max Headband Removable With Just a SIM Ejector Tool, Hinting at Interchangeable Headbands

Tuesday January 19, 2021 8:25 am PST by
It is possible to remove the headband of AirPods Max with just a standard SIM card ejector tool, hinting at the possibility of interchanging headbands to achieve a different colorway. Image via Prelook In December, MacRumors revealed the large variety of AirPods Max ear cushion color combinations when it became clear that they were magnetically attatched and available for sale separately....
macbook pro screensaver table

Some M1 Macs Affected By Fast User Switching Screensaver Bug

Monday January 18, 2021 1:57 am PST by
A growing number of user reports online suggest some of Apple's M1 Mac models are susceptible to a Fast User Switching bug that spontaneously activates the screensaver and leaves the user unable to dismiss it. In macOS Big Sur, Fast User Switching allows users to quickly switch between user accounts without having to completely log out. Based on posts in the MacRumors forums, Apple...
Top Stories 43 Feature

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro, and iPhone Rumors, Best of CES 2021

Saturday January 16, 2021 6:00 am PST by
This week was sure a busy one in the Apple world, with a flurry of announcements out of CES early in the week followed by a rash of Mac- and iPhone-related rumors later in the week. The new rumors this week included details on updated MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac Pro models, as well as a few other tidbits, so make sure to read on below to get caught up! Kuo: New MacBook Pro Models to...
shot on iphone 12 apple

Apple Highlights Photos Shot by iPhone 12 Users: Portraits, Cityscapes, and More

Tuesday January 19, 2021 6:05 am PST by
Apple today shared a gallery of photos shot by customers using the iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, with scenes including cityscapes, landscapes, portraits of people, and more at day and night. Shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by "NKCHU" in China (top) and shot on iPhone 12 Pro Max by Rohit Vohra in India (bottom) iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 models have a dual camera ...
Apple and Hyundai feature

Apple Car Production Again Linked to Kia Motor's US Plant in Georgia

Tuesday January 19, 2021 4:19 am PST by
Hyundai intends to transition the company's Apple Car involvement to its Kia brand as part of an internal arrangement that could see production move to the U.S., according to a new report today. On Sunday, Korea IT News reported that Apple and Hyundai are seeking a partnership agreement for the upcoming Apple Car by March, and that the electric vehicles could be made at a Georgia factory...