updated 08:06 am EDT, Thu May 24, 2012
Apple files for optical stylus patent
In a surprise, an Apple patent application for an optical stylus has turned up on the USPTO website. Steve Jobs had derided the stylus as an input method for the iPhone and the iPad once famously saying that 'If you need a stylus, you've already failed.' However, Jobs was well known for throwing the opposition a curve ball from time to time speaking out against an idea, only to have been developing a concept behind the scenes. One example was when he said that consumers liked having a separate iPod while also carrying their phone, only to reveal the ultimate convergence device in the iPhone a couple of years later.
Until the emergence of this patent application, it has been widely believed that Apple would never deliver its own purpose-made stylus for its iOS devices. Third-party styli have sold quite well for the iPad, with a number of vendors offering different solutions. However, none of these work as well as the S Pen Samsung co-developed with Wacom for its Galaxy Note 5.3 (also due to make an appearance on the Galaxy Note 10.1). Further, the success of the Galaxy Tab 5.3, which has shipped 5 million units in its first five months on the market has captured wide-spread attention.
The Apple patent application describes a stylus that incorporates image capture along with an on-board image processor, while also capable of sensing pressure. It would include an accelerometer and an antenna to help relay the relative position of the stylus in relation to the device. Also included is haptic feedback to help the user sense how much pressure they are applying. Apple is also well-known to file patents for products, or technologies, that may never see the light of day. However, creative professionals, and other users would probably welcome an Apple stylus if it was released. The aftermarket stylus ecosystem the iPad and the iPhone, along with an interesting stylus project at Kickstarter and the forthcoming Adonit Jot Touch suggests that the demand is indeed there. [via Engadget]