Apple wins 'iPen' patent for a smarter stylus

It's all about orientation: the technology would let a stylus mimic differences in line direction and size you see in real life when writing with the tip or side of a pencil.

Apple/USPTO

Apple has won another patent related to a so-called "iPen" stylus that goes beyond simply drawing on a touch display.

The US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday awarded Apple a patent dubbed "Stylus orientation detection," which centers around the "orientation of a stylus relative to a contacting surface."

The patent, which was earlier discovered by Patently Apple, envisions a device that comes with an orientation sensor that can determine the direction and type of scribble on a screen. Based on that, the device produces a line design that would mimic such an orientation in real life. So, if a person draws straight-on, the pen's drawing will look different than if they were using the side of the pen's tip.

Apple has been working on iPen designs for years. In 2012, in fact, the company filed for a patent on the feedback users would feel when using the device. Yet, some people might find it ironic that Apple is thinking about a stylus. The company's co-founder Steve Jobs decried the use of the stylus for mobile devices, saying on several occasions that there was little value in such a device. Perhaps Apple has changed its tune on the topic.

The USPTO awarded Apple several other patents on Tuesday as well, including one that describes a solar-powered lid for a portable computer , such as Apple's MacBook. As always, there's no guarantee these patents will lead to actual products.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments